A healthy exhaust system keeps your car running quietly, providing a pleasant ride for you and everyone else you pass on the road. Your car’s exhaust system also routes fumes from your engine away from the cabin, ensuring that you aren’t inhaling noxious chemicals as you drive. Finally, your exhaust system helps to optimize your fuel efficiency and to reduce your car’s emissions — both of which are beneficial to the environment.
If your exhaust system needs attention, it won’t be shy about telling you. There will be many signs that trouble is brewing. Ignoring these signs will allow the problem to intensify to the point that you are facing very heft repair bills.
Here are some of the top signs that you may need to repair your exhaust system:
When your exhaust system starts to malfunction, you’ll hear noises coming from the engine or the muffler. The sound may start as a low rumble, but it will gradually become louder. Over time, your car may sound like a Harley Davidson when it starts up.
While some people may like this noise — many think it makes the car sound more powerful — it is actually a sign of a serious problem. You could have a bad catalytic converter or an exhaust leak.
Your car won’t always make a lot of noise when the exhaust system is going bad. Sometimes, the car will just make a lot of vibrations while you are driving. You’ll feel the vibrations under your feet and under your hands on the steering wheel.
Typically, vibrations are caused by a leak in the exhaust. Not only are vibrations a sign that you need to have your car repaired, but they are also a safety issue. You won’t have as much control over the steering wheel if it is vibrating.
Lower Fuel Efficiency
Many factors influence your fuel efficiency, such as the health of your tires, the cleanliness of your fuel system, and the way you drive. Problems with your exhaust system can also cause your mpgs to drop.
If you notice that you are filling up more often, take your car to the mechanic to have a look at your exhaust system. An exhaust leak can cause your engine to run hotter, which will reduce your fuel efficiency.
When the exhaust system breaks down, it no longer channels fumes away from the cabin. Instead, the fumes blow into the cabin where you and your passengers are sitting. You’ll start to notice strange smells. The odors can smell faintly of gas, oil, or chemicals burning.
These odors aren’t just an inconvenience. These odors can be hazardous to your health. If you leave your exhaust system unattended, you could be marinating in noxious fumes for months. Imagine what that’s doing to your body.
Smoke Coming from the Tail Pipe
Your muffler is an important part of your exhaust system. Smoke coming out of your muffler can also be one of the first signs that there is a problem with the exhaust.
If you see white smoke coming out of your tail pipe, there could be water mixing into the combustion cycle or mixing with exhaust fumes. If you see blue smoke, motor oil could be in the mix. Black smoke is a sign that there is too much fuel in the combustion cycle, which is referred to as “running rich.”
You may not notice smoke coming out of your tail pipe right away since it will be trailing behind you in the wind. Pay attention when you start your car up in your garage, and ask friends or family who drive behind you to let you know if they see anything strange.
Rattling at Stops
Your car can make all kinds of noises when the exhaust system is having problems. In addition to vibrations or low rumbling, you might also hear rattling in your engine when you come to a stop sign or red light. The catalytic converter could be having problems, causing the rattling noise.
Your car might also hesitate or “chug” when you attempt to accelerate from the stop. The problem isn’t with your engine, but rather your exhaust system.
There are many other signs that your exhaust system could be having problems, such as feeling drowsy while you are driving or seeing the “Check engine” light on your dashboard.
Never dismiss or ignore these signs. The longer you wait to have the issue investigated, the worse the problem can become. You will be putting you and your passengers in danger, and you will be jeopardizing your vehicle. You’ll either shorten the life of your car or you’ll end up with some massive repair bills. Being proactive can save you a lot of heartache.