A car's exhaust system is a safety mechanism that acts as the bulwark against sound and air pollution, that may be caused by a car engine's combustion process.
System Construction and Functions
The exhaust system was developed to filter and treat the exhaust gases emitted from the internal combustion engine. It consists of an exhaust manifold, connected with the exhaust pipe, followed by the catalytic converter, muffler, and finally the tail pipe.
The manifold collects the gases emitted by the different combustion cylinders and delivers them to the system for treatment. The catalytic converter treats gases like carbon monoxide and unburnt hydrocarbons, and converts them into less harmful gases like carbon dioxide and other compounds. The muffler, as its name suggests, muffles the sound created by the car engine, while the tail pipe finally releases the treated gases.
Damage to any of the system parts may lead to a leakage of harmful gases before they are treated. This damage is usually caused by accumulation of moisture in the exhaust, that leads to rusting and corrosion. Another reason behind the damage is direct physical impact. It is imperative that the leak be detected immediately and fixed. Otherwise, the leakage of exhaust gases like carbon monoxide in the passenger compartment, may lead to seriously harmful effects.
Here are some of the symptoms that may help you identify the leakage.
Loud Roaring or Popping Noise
Loud roaring or popping noise, that you can hear every time you start the car, is a symptom. The exhaust system is basically shouting to get noticed.
Carbon Build Up and Rust
The only way one can actually check for leaks is by taking a torch and actually having a look at the underside of the car. Check the complete exhaust system assembly and look for signs of carbon buildup and rust. Make sure that you are wearing gloves, a mask, and safety goggles. Using a wire brush, clean the carbon deposition and physically check for holes throughout the system.
A distinctive gas smell, along with high smoke emission, when starting the car, indicates a leak. Ensure that you go for an immediate exhaust system check, when you notice such a gas smell.
One quick fix is plastering a special type of putty over the holes and covering it up with a tin patch. However, this can only be a temporary fix till you can get the car to an authorized repair center. The best fix for the leak is welding the parts again to fix the holes or completely replace the exhaust system, if it's beyond salvage.
Do not delay repairing the exhaust system at any cost, as the damage done to your health, by leakage of gases like carbon monoxide is irreversible.