Understanding your Car's Exhaust System for Effective Maintenance

Posted on: 29 October 2015

Many motorists are unaware of the complexity of their car's exhaust system, thinking it merely consists of the muffler and tailpipe. Exhaust systems in a vehicle are elaborate, composed of everything from simple clamps and pipes to complex sensors and computers.

Proper functioning of all these components is essential not only for environmental preservation but also to keep vehicle users safe and healthy. Below is a discussion of the most important components in your exhaust system and how you can keep them performing optimally:

1. The exhaust manifold

The exhaust manifold is directly attached to your engine, and it is an outlet for all gases produced from the latter, directing them towards your exhaust pipes. These gases include carbon monoxide, which is toxic and can cause dizziness, headaches, drowsiness and nausea when inhaled, finally culminating in death.

As such, you want to keep carbon monoxide and similar toxic gases from getting into the passenger compartment. For this, ensure that all connections between the engine and manifold have gaskets to seal them. In addition, your mechanic should regularly inspect them for loosening or cracking.

The mechanic should also confirm that exhaust pipes are not cracked, dented, rusted or otherwise damaged, allowing dangerous gases to pass into the passenger compartment.

2. The catalytic converter

The catalytic converter converts some of dangerous gases produced from the engine to harmless carbon dioxide and water vapour, reducing the volume of harmful gas emissions into the environment.

While the catalytic converter needs no maintenance per se, it does wear out and needs replacement. You should conduct regular emissions inspections; if you fail, this could be a sign that your catalytic converter is due for replacement.

3. Muffler

This is a more noticeable part of the exhaust system, and its job is to absorb or dampen noise produced by the engine. In fact, you can customize the kind of sound your vehicle produces by installing a customized muffler, getting anything from deathly silence to attention grabbing rumbles.

Back to maintenance, the muffler is also prone to rust and corrosion as well as damage by rocks and other loose debris on the road. Leaking mufflers should be replaced immediately, since exhaust gases are intended to exit from the tailpipe, not the muffler.

4. Oxygen sensors

Every exhaust pipe has one or more oxygen sensors. These sensors monitor the oxygen content of exhaust gases, which provides information used to optimize your fuel-to-air mixing inside the engine. In turn, your engine will run more efficiently, so your fuel can go a longer distance.

5. The tailpipe

Finally, the tailpipe serves as the outlet for exhaust gases into the atmosphere. It can also get rusty and/or damaged by debris, therefore you should inspect it from time to time. Read your owner's manual to find out the recommended durations in between exhaust inspections, and follow them to have a healthier, more efficient car.

If you notice any problems with your exhaust system, take your car into an auto shop like F J Muffler Centre.