Have you been hearing some strange sounds coming from underneath the hood of your car? Or are you seeing or smelling gas coming out of your car?
There are several different signs of an exhaust leak that you need to be aware of and which you cannot afford to ignore.
An exhaust system leak occurs when gases produced from combustion in your car’s engine leak out before they get to your tailpipe. This can be a serious problem for a few different reasons.
In the first place, breathing exhaust fumes is very bad for your health. Secondly, it can be very bad for the environment. Exhaust fumes need to pass through a catalytic converter to remove pollutants.
Lastly, an exhaust system leak can cause your car to consume fuel at a higher or lower rate. This may impair your car’s functionality.
So, now you know why an exhaust leak is dangerous, let’s look at how to spot it!
1. Strange Smell
One of the more common ways we recognize exhaust system leaks is by a strange smell in the car. If there is a leak in one of the exhaust system parts, the gas can travel up into the cab of the car itself.
This will usually be a rotten smell, but can also smell of smoke or fuel.
If you are noticing these smells in your car it could be carbon monoxide leaking from the car exhaust system. It’s important to recognize this because carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious threat to your health.
The most common side effects are dizziness, a headache, nausea, or shortness of breath. But too much exposure can actually be fatal.
So, if you are feeling strange and are noticing a strange smell, don’t ignore it because you may need an exhaust system repair!
2. Unusual Engine Noises (Especially When Accelerating)
This is one of the most common signs of an exhaust leak. Often, we don’t think of the exhaust system if we hear strange noises because we think it’s the engine itself or the transmission.
One of the main functions of a car exhaust system is to make the engine quieter. So, if you notice that your engine is sounding louder, it is worth getting your exhaust system checked before anything else.
You might also hear a rattling sound. This could be because the muffler or exhaust pipes have been knocked loose and are rattling against the underside of your car. But it might also mean that escaping gas is causing the system to move.
The other sound you need to listen out for is a chugging noise. This can either be caused by a leak or a clag in your exhaust system, both of which need to be fixed. Sometimes the catalytic converter will become clogged, which can impair its function.
This is going to be one of the more obvious signs of an exhaust leak. But it can also be confused with other engine issues such as dirty oil.
If you are noticing components like your gear shift or glove box rattling excessively, this could be a sign to get your system checked.
However, the most common place where you will notice the vibrations is in your gas pedal. This is the most direct link between you and your engine and exhaust system.
You could even use your exhaust system to get an upgrade to higher quality components. Performance exhaust systems like AWE Exhaust offer much better performance than stick parts.
They can make your car run more smoothly, cut down on pollution, and make your engine sound a whole lot better.
4. Change in Fuel Efficiency
This is not something people think of very frequently, but it’s an important indication of an exhaust leak.
When combustion gases are released, they can interfere with the sensors your engine uses to moderate its fuel consumption. You might notice your car is chewing through fuel at a much higher rate.
You should notice this if you use your car the same amount from week to week. If you find yourself heading to the gas station more often than usual, think about a possible exhaust leak.
On the other hand, the gases may be making your car consume less fuel. This might sound good, but it can really decrease the performance of your car.
5. Check Engine Light
There are several different reasons why the check engine light may come on. Sometimes, it is just because a sensor is broken and there is not actually an issue with the engine.
However, if the check engine light does come on you should keep in mind that it is a real issue, even if you think your car is running smoothly.
Sometimes you won’t notice a leak in your exhaust system for any of the other reasons. The changes may just be too small to notice, or they may occur very gradually. So, if your car is speaking to you directly, take the time to listen.
If the check engine light comes on and doesn’t go away immediately, you should get your exhaust system (and the engine itself) checked. You don’t want to be breathing in fumes, harming the environment, or allowing your car to damage itself more.
Keep a Lookout for Signs of an Exhaust Leak
You should now have a good idea of what an exhaust leak is and why it is such an important thing to watch out for. Not only can an exhaust leak be harmful to your car and its functionality, but it can also be bad for your personal health and the environment.
The different signs of an exhaust leak can sometimes be hard to notice. Sometimes, also, you won’t even think about your exhaust system, even if you do think there is a problem.
So, the main thing to take away is that you need to be vigilant. Take note of all of the sounds and vibrations you notice when you drive. If you do think you notice a change – and you might even question yourself about this – make sure you act.
If an exhaust leak is not treated quickly, the effects can accelerate!
If you’ve found this article useful, check out some of our other great articles on how to be in tune with your car.