The Danger of an Exhaust Leak

by Admin December 20, 2011

Not many motorists give a lot of credit to their exhaust systems. Your exhaust system is more than just a series of pipes hanging under your car. It performs important functions to keep your vehicle running efficiently. It also needs maintenance, just like the other systems in your car. If exhaust problems go neglected for too long, they can be more than damaging to your car – you can put your health in danger.

The main job of the exhaust system is to release the gaseous by-products of internal combustion. Normally, these emissions are very toxic – which is why modern cars have exhaust systems equipped with catalytic converters that convert the toxic exhaust into non-toxic water vapor and carbon dioxide (which unfortunately, is a green house gas and the reason why so many people point to automobiles as a factor in global warming).

There are a few things that can go wrong with an exhaust system. However, a common – and dangerous – problem is a leak. Exhaust leaks usually occur for two reasons:

•    Being mounted on the underside of your car, the exhaust system is exposed to a lot of road conditions that can cause parts to break down over time. The normal wear and tear that an exhaust system is exposed to means that older cars are especially vulnerable to leaks and should be inspected.

•    The water vapor produced by the catalytic convertor can also be problematic. When you only take your car for a short trip, the water vapor produced does not get expelled from the exhaust system. So, it condenses back into water, which can cause rust. Worse yet, sulfur is another by-product in engine emissions. If it mixes with water left in the exhaust system, it can form a corrosive acid that can eat away at the exhaust system.

Exhaust leaks can reduce fuel economy and create a lot of noise. They can also pose a danger to your health. If you have an exhaust leak, harmful fumes are potentially reaching the inside of your car (this is especially true with leaks near the exhaust manifold). It only takes a small amount of carbon monoxide (another by-product of emissions) to impair your driving and your health.

Stay safe. The next time you are changing your oil or inspecting your tires, take time to carefully inspect your exhaust system for leaks. Or bring your vehicle to The Tire Choice and we can diagnose and repair exhaust problems for you.

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