Exhaust Systems, Parts and Repair

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Frequently asked questions
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What does a car's exhaust do?

Your Exhaust System performs 4 tasks: it reduces noise, it diverts waste gases away from driver and passengers, it improves performance and it reduces fuel consumption. The Catalytic Converter removes harmful gases such as Carbon Monoxide, and noise is reduced by the Silencer (or 'muffler'.) Finally on Diesel cars, a 'Diesel Particulate Filter' (or DPF) captures tiny soot particles before they leave the exhaust pipe.
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How does a car's exhaust work?

Without an exhaust system, the first thing you would notice is the noise - which would be many times greater. Your engine is also designed to run with an exhaust's 'backpressure' on gases leaving the engine. Removing the backpressure reduces performance and burns more fuel. Finally your car would emit dangerous levels of waste gas without one.
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Why do car exhausts rust?

The exhaust rusts for a couple of reasons: first, it is exposed to water, debris, salt and damage from materials thrown up from the road. Second, the exhaust undergoes extremes of heat and cold, as well as internal water vapour (a byproduct of internal combustion), all of which speed up the rusting process.
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What does blue, white or black exhaust smoke mean?
It's useful to know your exhaust smoke colours! Black smoke means your engine is burning fuel inefficiently, creating soot, pointing towards a tuning, ignition or air/fuel mixture issue. Blue smoke means that oil is getting beyond where it should be in your engine and actually mixing with fuel and being burnt, probably because of worn valve stem seals or piston rings. White smoke indicates that coolant is entering the engine's cylinders, most likely due to a cracked or warped head gasket.
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How much does an Exhaust System cost?
Good news - exhaust systems can often be bought and replaced in sections, meaning a cost-effective repair can be under £100. Typical full replacement costs are £150-£200.
+How long does a car exhaust last?
A good quality non-stainless steel exhaust should last 5-6 years, and a stainless steel system could last 10 years. Note that life expectancy is hugely affected by driving conditions. Lots of short journeys cause moisture to build up in the system (because it doesn't get hot enough to burn it off), increasing the likelihood of rust. Lots of motorway miles has the opposite effect.
Hopefully our FAQ section has answered some of the questions you may have about exhaust systems. However, if you would like more information, we have the produced the following guide and video to help you understand the subject in greater detail.

An exhaust system has the primary function of guiding fumes away from a controlled combustion section of an engine.

The exhaust system on a car is carefully designed so the fumes omitted from the engine can be safely transported away from passengers in the car.

It is essential that an exhaust system is not damaged as leakage could pose serious danger to those inside the vehicle. Hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides could seep into a car if the exhaust is damaged. These gases are also extremely hot and would cause serious damage if they were to come into contact with a passenger.

The piping in an exhaust system must be heat resistant due to the high temperatures of these compounds and if the exhausts integrity is compromised, anything close to the damaged area will be exposed to potential harm.

The exhaust system is made up of a several parts, all of which could cause potential issues if damaged.

Though you only see the tail pipe from the outside of the car, the exhaust system is a large system.

The exhaust ensures fumes are transported from the engine all the way to the tailpipe at the back of the car. The gas flows down from the engine to the flange and onto the catalytic converter, it then travels on to the muffler and resonance chamber before going to the resonator and finally out through the tailpipe.

All of these parts have distinctive functions with piping connecting them along the bottom of the car.

Each section of the system has to be completely airtight and functioning properly to ensure the gases are released into the outside environment safely.

Because there are several components of the exhaust system and because it usually stretches the full length of the car, the range in costs can vary.

Depending on the area, part and extent of the damage, you are likely to pay different prices. Some repairs may only consist of sealing a small leak whereas others may need replacing entire pipes or elements.

But how would you know if you need your exhaust fixing?

A common symptom for a damaged exhaust is a loud roaring noise being emitted from your vehicle. This noise would indicate that you have a problem with the silencer part of the system. A common issue with silencers is corrosion by acidic moisture which is caused by a build-up of the damaging substance.

If a part of the system has cracked or a hole has appeared, you will be able to hear a hissing noise and a chugging sound could mean there is a blockage in the system.

If you hear rattling beneath your car it could mean that your exhaust has become misaligned and if you can hear a loud metallic vibration it usually means that something is hitting the exhaust pipe. It could also mean a clamp, mounting or support bracket is loose.

Hangers and brackets are essential for holding the system in place so if these parts become damaged there is a significant risk that the rest of the system will suffer damage as a result.

If you are able to get underneath your car, it is always the best way to check for signs of damage.

One of the most common issues associated with exhausts is rust build up, however this can often be a minor issue as some pealing of metal is not a huge issue.

If there is a build-up of rust on any part of the system, use a tool such as a screwdriver to see how strong the area feels, if the integrity is solid then the part won’t need replacing however if the metal feels weak when some pressure is applied, its time you get the part removed and a new one installed.

Finding a mechanic you can trust to do a good job and charge a fair price is not always easy. However that process is much simpler when using WhoCanFixMyCar.com.

We work with a network of 8,500 mechanics and garages across the UK so we can find competitive exhaust repair deals for you.

To find the best exhaust service available in follow these steps;

  • Enter your car registration number
  • Give us a few details about your car and your requirements
  • We’ll send you a great selection of quotes from mechanics and garages in your area

    You can then compare the quotes and read reviews from previous customers to find the best exhaust deal in your area, before booking the exhaust repair online.
  • Debs from Foxley Garage explains the Exhausts system