What comes out of your car may be just as important as what you put into it, and the system that makes sure that happens may be one of the most important components to your vehicle. Meet the exhaust, your vehicle’s unsung hero.
In a way, your vehicle’s exhaust is fairly reminiscent of your own digestive system. This digestive system, however, is composed of expensive sensors, tubes and converters. It stays strapped to the bottom of your car with a few welds and brackets, but the purpose is still the same. After your engine utilizes and burns fuel and air in the combustion chamber, your vehicle’s exhaust system is charged with carrying away the harmful leftover gasses. Seems simple enough.
Of course, when it comes to vehicle maintenance, few things are ever that simple. A lot can go wrong under there, which is why a little understanding and preventative service can keep your vehicle’s exhaust functioning properly for as long as you own it.
First and foremost, your vehicles exhaust system is composed of metal. As a result, every component, from the manifold (the exhaust system’s connection to the engine) to the pipes to the muffler in the back is susceptible to rust. Unfortunately, there’s no true way to avoid this kind of corrosion, unless you refuse to drive in the rain or on wet, snowy or salty roads.
Even the way you drive can affect the gradual breakdown of your exhaust. As a simple by-product of the combustion process, moisture commonly works its way through your exhaust. When the engine stops, this moisture condenses from a gas back into a liquid, resting inside your pipes, and rusting them from the inside out (this is particularly common in cold weather and after shorter drives).
Though system deterioration is unavoidable, the best method of preventing eventual problems is to have your system frequently checked. A completely corroded system can break while driving, release dangerous gasses into your vehicle or simply make a loud and unpleasant noise while driving. To ensure that your metal pieces don’t rust through, have your service professional closely examine the components of your exhaust. If a potential problem exists, you’ll be able to easily spot and prevent it before it becomes a much more dangerous and expensive situation.
Two other small but crucial components to your exhaust are the oxygen sensor and catalytic converter. Oxygen sensors do just what their name implies: they measure the amount of oxygen in your exhaust and ensure that the amount of oxygen and fuel combining in your engine make for optimal fuel efficiency. A broken sensor will usually result in a noticeable decrease in fuel efficiency, so be sure to replace them when necessary and save some money at the pump.
Lastly, your vehicle’s catalytic converter converts harmful gasses like carbon monoxide to water vapor and carbon dioxide. A clogged or dysfunctional converter usually results in a loss of power, an increase of heat felt through the floor or a strong sulfur smell. Keep yourself and your family out of harms way and have a certified service professional inspect it carefully for problems.
In short, your exhaust system is a crucial component to your vehicles continued performance. Make sure your trusted service department keeps it in perfect working order.