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5 Most Common Exhaust System Issues & Symptoms

Educational  ·  July 21, 2020

5 Most Common Exhaust System Issues & Symptoms

Of all the many parts found in modern combustion-engine vehicles, the exhaust system is often the most overlooked car part. The truth is that it plays a crucial role in the proper functioning of these vehicles. This article will look at 5 of the most common exhaust system issues and how to spot them early.

The Importance of the Exhaust System

When the combustion process takes place inside an engine, it produces toxic exhaust fumes and lots of noise as a result. Both these byproducts can't just be released out into the open. Fumes and gases that escape into the passenger cabin can be toxic to the passengers, and the noise will be a significant problem for everyone around. These things are so problematic that there are laws enforced to restrict them.

And this is where an exhaust system comes into play. An automotive exhaust system provides a clear way for exhaust fumes to be removed from a vehicle while also reducing the noise it produces. As in any other car system, some common exhaust system problems can occur from time to time. Given the critical role that the system plays, these problems shouldn't be taken lightly once you've noticed them.

Typical Exhaust System Issues and Symptoms

Firstly, let's identify some of your car's common exhaust problems

1. Rust

Over time, rust becomes a problem not only to a car’s exhaust parts but all auto parts in general. When it comes to your exhaust system, however, this problem might happen sooner depending on your driving conditions. The reason for this is that a significant portion of an automotive exhaust system is located under the car, exposed to the elements. These parts come into contact with water and corrosive debris quite a lot, and depending on your local climate, possibly snow. 

There's a silver lining here, though. Rust is a problem that you can prevent. One of the simplest methods you can do at home is to periodically spray off the bottom of your car, including the exhaust system. What this does is remove any corrosive debris on the exhaust that you may have picked up along the way.

Rust can be a significant problem because it eventually leads to holes forming along the exhaust system. Holes will then cause leaks.

2. Leaks

Several different reasons can cause leaks in your exhaust system. As mentioned earlier, rust can be a part of the problem. Rocks and other debris that you drive over can also hit the exhaust system and cause holes to appear.

Leaks in an automotive exhaust system are a hazardous problem. Firstly, a leaky exhaust system can cause intense shaking, particularly in the steering wheel and the gas pedal. These kinds of shaking or vibrations are dangerous as they make it difficult to drive correctly.

Worse than that, leaks can also cause exhaust fumes, especially carbon monoxide, to find their way into the passenger cabin. These gases are toxic and could lead to seizures or even death.

3. Blocked Catalytic Converter

In an automotive exhaust system, there's a part called a catalytic converter. Its job is simple: convert toxic exhaust gases into less harmful fumes. The potential problem here is that this converter may eventually get blocked. As you might imagine, if this happens, exhaust gases will have a tough time flowing through the system and exiting the tailpipe.

This might lead to strong smells leaking into the car's cabin. Usually, the odour is described as that of a rotten egg. But this isn't the only symptom of a blocked catalytic converter. Even your car's performance will be affected by this, and it won't be able to produce as much power as it should.

4. Loose Brackets or Mounts

The exhaust system is held in place with the use of brackets and mounts. As time goes on, these parts can also become rusted and loose. Thankfully, this particular problem is quite easy to notice. 

If your exhaust mounts ever come loose, you'll hear a lot of rattling and other loud noises coming from underneath your car. In a worst-case scenario, the exhaust may fall to the ground and what you get is a damaged exhaust. If this happens while you're driving, the damage could be quite extensive as you drag the exhaust along the road.

5. Problematic Exhaust Manifold Gasket

Remember: your car's exhaust system runs along the entire length of your vehicle, from the engine all the way to the tailpipe. The part of the system that's attached to the engine's cylinders is called the manifold. The joint between the manifold and the cylinder needs to be sealed tightly using a gasket so that none of the exhaust gas from the chamber leaks out.

Unfortunately, that gasket may wear out eventually. If it does, you'll notice a tapping or hissing sound coming from around the engine area, especially when you start the car or accelerate.

What To Do About Exhaust System Issues

If you ever notice exhaust issue symptoms or suspect a problematic exhaust system, it's best to drive to your trusted workshop or mechanic immediately. Automotive exhaust system issues aren't the kind that you can ignore in the hopes that they'll go away by themselves.

When you take the car to the workshop, the mechanic will inspect your exhaust system thoroughly and systematically, giving you peace of mind that they'll find whatever's causing the issue.

By getting a professional to look at the problem early, you'll potentially save lots of money by avoiding more significant repairs in the future. More importantly, you'll be keeping yourself and your passengers safe by ensuring that toxic exhaust fumes are exiting the vehicle rather than entering the cabin.

If your mechanic finds out an exhaust system issue, requiring some replacement parts, please feel free to request parts from Instead of searching auto parts yourself, do it the easy way by filling out a request form here, then wait for sellers to contact you with their best price. 

By Ray Hasbollah

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