Finding and Fixing Exhaust Leaks
Symptoms of Exhaust Leaks
Whether you have a full aftermarket exhaust system or an OEM setup, no-one wants a leaking exhaust. A damaged exhasut can cause rough idling, loud noise, and sluggish engine performance. Some symptoms that your pipes may not be properly sealed include smelling or seeing exhaust or gas as you drive your car. In the case of a larger leak you may see large amounts of exhaust smoke bellowing from the engine bay or the sides of your vehicle. Big leaks, before the car's mufflers and catalytic converters, can make your cars engine deafening loud.
Setup to Finding Exhaust Leaks
Once you have determined that you have an exhaust leak, the next step is finding it. A cold day works best because the exhaust will look like steam. First, get your work area setup. Park your car outside. Exhaust gas contains carbon monoxide and other pollutants that are bad for you, so you don't want to do this check in a garage. Next, jack up the car and support it with properly with jack stands. If you don't have jack stands, you may still be able to find the leak with the car on the ground depending on your vehicle. Once the car is setup, let it cool down and gather any tools you may need. You really want the exhaust to cool down before you do your check because small leaks may be temporarily sealed by the expansion of steel as it heats up. To preform the inspection you will need a cloth rag, a pair of gloves, a flashlight, a screwdriver, and a mechanic's stethoscope or a vinyl tube.
Finding Your Leak
To find your unwanted opening, first, start your car or truck. Then, have a friend lightly cap off your tailpipe with the rag or plug it yourself and quickly start your leak inspection. You don't want the car to stall, but just cap the tailpipe enough to force more exhaust out the leaky area. If the car does stall, then you may not have an exhaust flaw. By this point, you should be able to see even a small leak. Revving your engine can increase the volume of the gas escaping from the hole and makes it easier to find. If you don't see any exhaust escaping, then use your mechanic's stethoscope or PVC tube to listen up and down the length of your exhaust. On older cars, leaks can arise from pipes that have rusted through, manifolds that have cracked, or the area where the tailpipe goes over the rear axle assembly. If you find a suspicious rusty spot, lightly tap on it with a screwdriver- if it goes through you have a hole in your piping. Leaks between components are also common as well and tend to come from broken exhaust gaskets or loose bolts. If this procedure was successful, you will have determined if your exhaust has a leak and where it is coming from.
Fixing Exhaust Leaks
Now that you have found the leaky portion of your exhaust, you need to fix it. If the trouble is a disintegrated gasket, then simply replace it. However, if you have a cracked manifold, a hole in a pipe, or a broken muffler then you will need to repair or replace the damaged component. You have a few options for repairing your exhaust. If the damage is minimal and the majority of the piece is in good condition, then you can have it repaired by a muffler shop. Another option is replacing the offending piece with an OEM replacement. Sometimes this is a good option, but other times it makes sense to treat this as an opportunity to upgrade to a performance aftermarket part. Not only will you gain horsepower and torque, but most parts are made of stainless steel or have high-tech coatings to prevent corrosion. Shop4exhaust caries a variety of aftermarket replacement parts such as cat-backs, headers, midpipes, catalytic converters, and fabrication components.