Quick Tips for Troubleshooting a Car's Exhaust System

Posted on: 12 February 2016

Your car's exhaust system may be more important to the vehicle's overall condition than you realize. The muffler and all the other parts of the exhaust don't just keep the car's engine quiet, but they also help to regulate the amount of oxygen that is in the engine as it runs. Too much or too little oxygen can mean causing the engine to work harder than it should. The exhaust system also pulls emissions away from the cab of the car, keeping you breathing healthy. Note a few quick tips for troubleshooting some common problems with your car's exhaust system.

1. Hissing or whistling from the tailpipe

Many car owners know to listen for a loud grumbling sound when their car needs a new muffler or exhaust system, but you might also hear a hissing or whistling from the tailpipe. This typically means that there is a blockage in the exhaust system, and the engine is not exhaling or letting out emissions as it should. You might check if there is something in the very edge of the tailpipe but if you don't see the blockage, have a mechanic check the pipes under the car.

2. Buzzing or rattling

Rattling can be caused by a number of loose parts along the exhaust system or even elsewhere in your car, but very often a buzzing or rattling sound can be the heat shield of the exhaust coming loose. This heat shield is meant to protect the underside of the car from the heat of the exhaust as it moves its way through the pipes and muffler under the car. Rust can cause the heat shield to come loose so that it buzzes and rattles and especially as your car accelerates and more exhaust is moving through the system.

3. Poor gas mileage

Poor gas mileage is often a symptom of a problem with the car's exhaust system. When there is a hole in the exhaust system, this can let out too much air from the engine so that it needs to work harder to maintain the firing of the pistons. In turn, you may see your gas mileage drop and you need to fill up at the pumps more often. A plugged catalytic converter can also interfere with the mixture of fuel and oxygen, so that an engine needs to harder to run. When you notice this drop in gas mileage in your car, have the exhaust system checked.