Signs you need a new exhaust

Your car’s exhaust works hard to protect all of us from harmful fumes and emissions, but it does even more, including controlling noise, improving engine performance and increasing fuel efficiency.

Every car exhaust works hard, and after thousands of miles on the road may need some repairs or to be replaced.

Here are some of the warning signs your exhaust is on the way out, and what you can do about it.

How does the exhaust system work?

There are several parts to the exhaust system, linking the box at the back of the car to the engine, including

  • The manifold
  • Catalytic converter
  • Sensors
  • Silencer
  • Exhaust pipe

Every part of the exhaust system must function properly for it to work perfectly. A failure in any component can cause the whole system to fail.

But how does it work? When you’re driving the exhaust system’s manifold collects harmful gases produced when the engine burns fuel and carries them to the catalytic converter. The catalytic converter removes any environmental nasties from the fumes, including carbon monoxide and hydrogen.

The gas is then pushed through a silencer that reduces noise levels, before being pushed out of the tailpipe.

Modern, fuel-injected cars have sophisticated sensors that measure the ratio of oxygen to harmful gases at the tailpipe. This information is fed back to your car’s computer and relayed to you if there’s a problem.

How long should an exhaust last?

Your exhaust system should last for thousands of miles, but exactly how long depends on your driving style, how many miles you drive and your vehicle make and model.

Modern car exhausts are typically made from either chrome or stainless steel and should last for the lifetime of the car (unless they’re damaged). High-quality, non-stainless steel exhausts should last for around five years.

3 warning signs that you might need a new exhaust

1. Engine noise getting louder: Is engine noise getting louder? The exhaust silencer reduces the rumbling noises produced by the engine and can deteriorate over time or become damaged. Over time, the engine noise will become louder inside the car, and outside it too. If you’re hearing a rattling sound, your catalytic convertor could be loose or need to be repaired. Catalytic converters are fragile and can crack or split from driving over obstacles on the road (or off it), including speed bumps, uneven roads and rocky roads.

2. Rust and damage: Your exhaust deals with hot fumes each time you drive and can become rusted or corroded. When your car isn’t running, check the exhaust for any wear, tear or damage. If you spot anything, it could be time to have it checked out

3. Filling up more often: If you find you’re filling up more often, it could be your exhaust system that’s the problem. A leaky exhaust will affect its ability to transport fumes, leaving your engine to operate at a higher temperature. The hotter the engine, the less efficient it is, and the more fuel it will burn.

How can I spot any issues with my exhaust?

These warning signs are pretty obvious and evident, but even experienced drivers have been known to drive with an exhaust that’s on its way out.

Regular car servicing and maintenance can prevent damage to the exhaust system. Our trained technicians will check your exhaust as part of every service and let you know if they spot anything serious.

Get a Free Exhaust Check at a Halfords garage

If you think there’s a problem with your exhaust system, but don’t know what to do, Halfords can help. We offer all customers a Free Exhaust Check, where our engineering experts will check out the condition of your exhaust and identify any faults and fixes. If work needs doing, we’ll provide a no-obligation quote to put it right.

Book Your Free Exhaust Check

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