What is a car exhaust?
A car exhaust system is a series of pipes leading from a car’s engine to an open tailpipe at the rear of a car from which engine exhaust fumes emanate. Connecting the pipes are components that each serve a different purpose: an exhaust manifold, a catalytic converter, a resonator, and a silencer.
Why is a car exhaust important?
Car exhausts are important because engines pollute the environment. Each cylinder in a car’s engine emits harmful fumes, such as carbon monoxide, in the process of generating the energy needed to power the car. These fumes need to be collected and treated before they are released into the environment. Collection is performed by the exhaust manifold, which directs the fumes into a single pipe to the catalytic converter, which contains a catalyst, such as platinum, palladium and rhodium, that converts the fumes into less dangerous ones through an oxidation process. Engines are also very loud, so these fumes then enter the resonator, which eliminates the resulting buzzing and droning noises that all engines make on certain frequencies, then the silencer, which decreases the volume of engine noise. Diesel cars also need a diesel particulate filter, to trap soot particles that are created when a diesel car burns diesel fuel. Manufacturers continually modify car exhaust systems because anything that makes the fumes go through the system more smoothly improves performance and fuel efficiency.
How long does a car exhaust last?
If it’s made of stainless steel, an exhaust system will last up to a decade. A well-manufactured exhaust system made of other materials will last half that. A lot depends on what type of driving the exhaust system is exposed to. Frequent short journeys increase the chances of rust because the temperature in the exhaust system never gets hot enough to burn off the moisture that can build up inside it through the process of combustion. Also, when this moisture meets up with certain compounds in the exhaust fumes it creates acids that are also highly corrosive. Conversely, repeated long journeys will mean the moisture does burn off, so rust doesn’t build up as soon.
What is involved in a car exhaust repair?
A car exhaust system is a series of interlocking pipes and components, so exhaust repairs rarely involve more than one or two of each at a time, so tend to be relatively straightforward. A good garage will be able to identify what needs to be repaired.
What causes car exhaust problems?
- Given the location of the exhaust system, damage can be caused by high curbs, speed bumps or any sufficiently large obstacle in the road that a car drives over.
- Time is the main enemy, with corrosion in the form of rust, from the inside out, being an inevitable outcome even for the sturdiest of exhaust systems because of the moisture in them. This is especially true if the car takes mainly shorter journeys because the moisture never gets burnt off as the exhaust system never gets hot enough. Furthermore, the moisture can mix with compounds in the exhaust fumes to form acids which are even more corrosive.
What are the possible signs that a car needs a new exhaust?
- If rattling can be heard, or vibration felt, under a car it could mean a missing, damaged or loose joint, hangar, bracket, mounting or clamp, or that some of the piping is out of position.
- If hissing can be heard under a car it would suggest a crack or leak in one of the pipes, in the exhaust manifold, or in a gasket that seals the surface of the exhaust manifold to a cylinder.
- If a chugging noise can be heard under a car it could mean that the exhaust system is blocked in some way.
- A loud exhaust noise points to a damaged silencer, which is usually the first component in an exhaust system to give way, probably due to there being a hole in it. This is because of its location, being the most distant component from the engine and therefore the coolest, making it a great place for moisture to combine with compounds in the exhaust fumes and create corrosive acids.
How long does a car exhaust repair take?
- Because an exhaust system is a series of interlocking components that can be easily viewed and reached once a car is raised up on a hydraulic lift, repairs often don’t take long at all once the problem has been diagnosed and the parts sourced.
How much does a car exhaust repair cost?
- Basic items like brackets and clamps are cheap and easy to install, but a complete exhaust system will cost in the £100-250 range, including labour, depending on the type of vehicle and the quality of parts chosen. OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts cost a lot more than third-party, aftermarket parts, but usually last longer and often run quieter.
It is usually a straightforward job to get your exhaust repaired.
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