Did you know that 9% of greenhouse gasses are caused by internal combustion engines? That’s why the exhaust system is vital.
Aside from that, it also helps in the reduction of the sound the engine makes during combustion and the engine’s temperature to avoid your car from overheating.
Having an exhaust system in its top shape with no leaks is crucial in passing an emissions test. Except a few states like Florida, Alabama, Kansas, many states require emission testing for you to be able to register your vehicle.
Cost of Repair in the Exhaust System
Problems like dark, white, and blue smoke escaping from under the vehicle, rattling or clanking under the vehicle at idle, hissing on acceleration, and gas or exhaust fumes entering the vehicle are some signs to look for when checking if there’s something wrong with your engine. But it could be a challenge to pinpoint which part of the exhaust system has issues.
If you’re looking to attempt the repair of an exhaust system yourself, you could be in for a challenge. What looks like a quick trip to the auto parts store and a few minutes under the vehicle can turn into an all day project with multiple trips back and forth to the auto parts store.
The cost to fix exhaust leak depends on its gravity and how many leaks there are if you approach an exhaust specialist mechanic.
You’ll need to call around in your area for labor cost because there is a huge range in labor prices in any given area, just keep in mind that cheap will usually mean unskilled mechanics and cheap parts that will not last long, so you need to know if you’ll be keeping your car for a while or replacing it soon.
I always recommend shopping with the future in mind, I tell my customers if they plan on driving their cars for a long time and they want the same ride quality it had when it came from the factory, install high quality or original equipment parts to preserve the integrity of the vehicle and continue the ride quality they are accustom to.
It is also important to understand that not all exhaust system are created equal, and once they are installed onto your vehicle, they will be there for a minimum of two years. Let’s say your vehicle came from the manufacturer with a double lined pipe and you change it to a single line pipe, the sound of your exhaust will be very different so keep that in mind when shopping.
Beware of the shops that tell you that they will give you a free estimate for the exhaust repair, most shops that push this type of advertising will tack on labor charges to the total repair if you do in fact buy the repair job, it’s not a bad idea to pay a mechanic to inspect an exhaust system and generate an estimate for repairs, just don’t be dishonest about the charges.
An exhaust leak repair cost also concerns labor rates and that is really up to the mechanic. You can expect the service fee to be more expensive if you take your vehicle to a dealership. Dealerships have partnerships with different carmakers and so they have access to the best services there are.
Exhaust system repairs can range from $50 to $3500 depending on what needs to be fixed or replaced. Mufflers and intermediate pipes are relatively inexpensive in the exhaust world. Replacing catalytic converters, O2 sensors, and exhaust manifolds are when things start to get expensive.
The reason why catalytic converters, O2 sensors, and manifold repairs are so expensive is the problems that you run into when changing out these parts. These parts are under extreme continuous heat every time the key is turned on, so these parts absorb all of the extreme conditions exhausted from the engine.
When replacing a catalytic converter, mechanics will typically find that the O2 sensors are welded or corroded to the converter and need to be replaced at the same time, two O2 sensors could cost over a $1000 alone, never mind the cost of the converter which could be upwards of $2500, there are cheaper alternatives, but you get what you pay for.
Easy fixes like tiny holes on any part of the exhaust may not cost you that much. There are some auto shops that would allow you to buy your own materials and just pay them for the labor. Keep in mind that if they allow you to do that, the warranty may no longer be applicable.
Here is a list of the materials that could be used to fix exhaust leaks:
|Exhaust Repair Wrap/Bandage||$11-$200|
|Exhaust Sleeve Clamps||$10-$90|
|Exhaust Repair Sealant (Putty/Paste/Cement)||$5-$305|
|Exhaust System Parts||Exhaust Manifold||Catalytic Converter||Muffler||Oxygen Sensor|
And in case you are wondering if the exhaust leak repair cost is covered by vehicle insurance, generally speaking, they don’t. And that’s applicable to all regular maintenance repairs. That’s unless you could provide any proof that the damage has been brought about by an accident. Otherwise, you can kiss your claim goodbye.
Where And When to Get Your Exhaust System Repaired?
The following are the tell-tale signs of a leaking exhaust system:
- The engine is creating an abnormal noise – since your mechanic tends to handle many cars during his career, ranging from very old models to the top of the line, he may have difficulty finding the difference between the normal and abnormal noise unless he only works for you. When you hear a different sound from your engine, call for help ASAP.
- Vibrating gas pedals – when you drive every day, you can feel even the slightest difference or change in the way your gas pedal feels as you stomp on it. If it somehow starts to rumble in an otherwise smooth driving road, then you might probably need its exhaust system checked.
- Dropping fuel efficiency – the drop in the mileage your vehicle could run per quantity of fuel input may be a sign of several engine issue but you could only pray that it is not from leaking exhaust as it could sometimes be fatal at worst when the toxic fumes find their way into the inside of your vehicle when left untreated and you don’t want that.
Repairing parts of your vehicle’s exhaust system may need intermediate skills, especially if a heavy duty material like a welder is needed. Here is a list of a few well-known repair chains including their contact numbers so you can schedule a visit:
|Location||Repair Chain||Contact Number|
|IN||Guaranteed Auto & Trans Services||(765) 588-9076|
|PA||Village Tire & Auto Repair||(215) 631-3012|
|KY||Harlan Automotive||(270) 948-2505|
|TX||Tech One Automotive||(512) 645-2784|
|CA||Spiteri’s Complete Auto Services, Inc.||(650) 257-8567|
Some of the listed body shops also do state inspections for emissions. If you want to be sure that your vehicle’s engine is already in its tip-top shape, you can immediately sign up for it after it is fixed.
These repair shops also offer warranties for repairs. They can have you covered up to 24 months or 24,000 miles; whichever comes first.
How the Exhaust System Really Works?
The exhaust system is made up of parts that work together to reduce harmful emissions and the noises that your engine makes.
Exhaust gases produced by the internal engine combustion consist of Carbon Monoxide (CO), Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), and Nitrogen Monoxide (NO); all of which are harmful to the environment.
The gases that the engine combustion produces go through the cylinders and engine valve. They are taken to the catalytic converter so that they can be combined with particles that serve as catalysts to reduce their harmful effects.
Once the gases are less harmful, they then go through the mufflers where the sound waves from the engine are lessened.
It is important that all parts of the exhaust system are in good condition because aside from the engine combustion’s toxic wastes harming the environment, it is also not good for the passengers. There are only certain levels of gases that a person can take every day.
The Main Parts of the Exhaust System
The exhaust system regulates emissions, controls noise and exhaust dangerous gasses out the tailpipe beyond the rear bumper to prevent harmful fumes from entering the passengers’ compartment.
If for any reason the exhaust becomes clogged, damaged or disconnected, engine performance can deteriorate, exhaust fumes become deadly, and the possibility of noise pollution can increase.
The exhaust system is made up of parts that could be the reason why you are having issues with your vehicle’s performance.
- Exhaust Manifold – this parts main role is to take gases from the cylinders and distribute them to the exhaust system. It is prone to metal fatigue because it is exposed to extreme heat and cooling each time the engine is running. Its replacement cost can be anywhere from $18.99 to $532.89
- Oxygen Sensor – this helps the vehicle’s computer system determine how much oxygen is in the exhaust. If the oxygen sensor is damaged, it will affect the vehicle’s fuel economy because your vehicle’s ECU (Engine Control Unit) cannot determining how much oxygen is in the exhaust and will have to rely on default specs to run the engine, at this point the engine will not be running at optimum efficiency and it will result in poor performance, poor fuel economy, and possible erratic idling.
- Catalytic Converter – this helps reduce your engine’s emissions. There are multiple reasons why this part malfunctions. One of the most common reasons is clogging. Inside the catalytic converter is a honeycomb and it is made from platinum or a similar, platinum-like metal such as palladium or rhodium. Wastes like carbon and unburnt raw fuel exit the combustion chamber and lands on the honeycomb causing it to clog and overheat. If your catalytic converter is not working, get ready to spend up to $3500 to replace them, depending on the model
- Muffler – The main functions of your car’s muffler are to help direct exhaust gases out of the exhaust past the rear bumper, it also deadens the sound waves your engine produces. One of the main reasons why mufflers go bad is condensation and rust.
How to Save Money by DIY?
If your exhaust system has leaks that do not equate to replacing any parts that have it, then grab your gloves and protective gears to fix it yourself.
If you’re looking to save a few bucks repairing your own exhaust system, I recommend only attempting small repairs with muffler tape, muffler putty, clamp replacement, or a sleeve repair.
If you have some mechanical skills and a basic tool set, you could attempt to replace a bolt on the muffler or intermediate pipe, you may also need a small torch with MAP gas to help loosen the rusted nuts and bolts.
Some of the best tools for removing rusted exhaust nuts and bolts is a can of PB Blaster (penetrating oil), a set of 6 point sockets, and 6 point box wrench set. Exhaust repairs are challenging so don’t be disappointed if it beats you up during the fight.
There is really no average time to do an exhaust repair, some take an hour, others take days depending on how many problems you encounter.
Another factor is the region, if you live where your winters are ice and snow mixed with salt and sand, you’re in for a challenge, if you’re in the southern states where it is warm and dry, you probably won’t be challenged as much.
Reminder: Some mufflers are made to have a small hole in the bottom so that condensation (water) can drain, this is not a leak and it is supposed to leak exhaust fumes and water so don’t attempt to plug the hole.
If you are trying to locate an exhaust leak, the simplest way is to run the engine at idle and have a partner plug the exhaust tail pipe with a large shop rag or towel. I recommend plugging the tail pipe with a towel because it can get very hot and I wouldn’t want you to burn your hand.
Once the tailpipe is plugged, run your ear along the exhaust system, close enough to hear a leak but far enough so you don’t get burnt. If there is a leak, you will be able to locate it very quickly with this method.
How to Avoid Exhaust System Issues?
The best you can do to avoid any severe engine problem caused by the exhaust system is to have a routine check.
Once you hear noise or any unusual sound from your engine and the exhaust system, have it checked right away. Keep in mind that toxic waste may already be escaping from the engine to the inside of your vehicle causing carbon monoxide poisoning. Scared yet? If you stay vigilant, no need to.