Exhaust system problems have a tendency to sneak up on drivers. It’s because the system is entirely hidden from view—it starts under the hood, extends the length of your vehicle’s undercarriage and ends with the tailpipe, the only part that’s actually visible. It’s easy to see if your tailpipe is belching black smoke or hear a guttural roar when you hit the gas, but aside from that, people generally have very little knowledge about a bad exhaust system.
It’s not until they roll into a Conway, AR repair shop that people are surprised to learn their exhaust system is shot. Kaput. Ready to fall off! It’s why we recommend paying a little more attention to this important system and seeking service early.
Like all things with your car, proactive maintenance is the best way to preserve function and prevent headaches. Here are some of the most common types of issues with exhaust systems and how to recognize the signs before they become severe:
- Rust: Rust is cancer for your exhaust system, and eventually it’ll eat holes in critical parts like your exhaust pipe or catalytic converter. It stems from moisture in the exhaust system and often requires complete part replacement.
- Oxygen sensor malfunction: If your check engine light keeps flashing on and off, it’s likely the oxygen sensor malfunctioning. This leads to an imbalance of fuel and air in the engine and reduced performance. It’s an easy problem to fix.
- Exhaust leaks: Holes in your exhaust pipe cause emissions to escape before they pass through the catalytic converter, which can lead toxic fumes to accumulate in your cabin. Holes can be patched, but an inspection is required to locate them.
- Vibrations: Steering wheel shaking? A loose exhaust system might have a lot to do with it. Having your exhaust system inspected and secured to the undercarriage can cut down on vibrations and prevent unnecessary wear to other under-car systems.
- Loud noise: Loud noises are a hallmark of a bad exhaust system. If your sedan sounds like a racecar coming off the line, have your exhaust system inspected. Chances are, there are holes to patch and parts to secure.
- Smoke and vapor: Gray or blue smoke is a bad sign and means you’re burning oil somewhere. Black smoke indicates a fuel mixture that’s too rich (fuel injector problem). White smoke means coolant is being burned (cracked gasket). If there’s no smoke but water is dripping from your tailpipe or being vaporized into the air, it can indicate a compromised area in the exhaust system.
- Muffler clogs: No, no one put a potato in your muffler as a joke! The blockage was likely caused by bumpy road conditions that rattled internal parts loose. Overly muddy conditions can also cause muffler blockages.
These are all types of issues with exhaust systems that are easy to spot—warning signs you can observe and call your local Conway, AR auto repair shop about. The next time you start your car and go out for a leisurely drive, make sure these issues aren’t present. If they are, it’s best to catch them and fix them before they get worse.