One of the possibly most underrated parts of your car is undoubtedly the exhaust system. Apart from performing its main role, drawing out fumes from the engine, it can also help your car perform better if designed, installed and maintained properly.
You don’t need to be a mechanic or a real car aficionado to be able to identify some possible problems or to take action to prevent them from occurring. This is very important, since nowadays many exhaust systems are quite expensive because of the material used and you need to look after your valuable assets, particularly since their malfunction may lead to even greater problems, more expensive to solve.
Take a good look at the exhaust system by jacking up your car and securing it in that position. Inspect the system for crack and pay special attention to the part where manifold is connected to the main pipe and cylinder, since it’s the most prone to cracking. Also, check for rust or burn marks. Regardless of the place they appear, they need your special attention. Particularly tricky is rust, since you sometimes can’t notice it with the naked eye.
However, if you suspect there is some internal rust, you may use a screwdriver or some other sharp object and stick that part. If there is no rust, the screwdriver will not puncture it, so you shouldn’t worry about making more damage.
You can also inspect the hangers and if you notice any one of them is broken, you need to replace it. The fact that the whole system is still hanging level should not prevent you from taking immediate action, since a broken hanger greatly affects the clamped and welded joints as you drive and the system moves up and down. You would be risking much greater and costlier damage if you didn’t replace it.
Another part that may crack is the bracket, which is used to provide firm support near the transmission. If it’s cracked or missing, your exhaust system is likely to flex a lot and eventually crack. It’s always wiser to buy a replacement bracket than reweld a faulty one, but sometimes new ones are not available and you don’t have any other option but to visit a wrecking yard or try to get the old bracket rewelded.
Other elements and things to consider
Another element often present in those high-performance exhaust solutions is damper weights, which are either attached to a pipe or are part of a flange connection. If a damper weight is broken or bent, the whole system will be unstable and vibrate. More vibrations mean shorter life of joints, both welded and clamped, and a much more unpleasant ride. Though this isn’t usually life-threatening, it surely affects the overall experience and can lead to great repairing costs.
Generally speaking, you should always look for original parts if you wish to replace any part of your exhaust system. That way you’re more likely to avoid the same type of problem happening soon, provided you maintain your exhaust system properly and regularly. Another tip is to be realistic about what you yourself can do (or perhaps with a little help from a friend), since improper installation or replacement of any part of a car can be potentially life-threatening.
By having regular visual inspections of the system and paying attention to the most common symptoms of a problem with the exhaust system, such as strong smell of exhaust fumes, unusual noises coming from the exhaust pipe and the light indicator on your dashboard signaling an issue, you may be able to act in time to prevent greater problems and keep your car running smoothly and economically. Of course, sometimes it is necessary to take a car to a professional, but make sure you ask around and find the one with good references, whose service won’t cost an arm and a leg.
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