Exhaust problems in cars are known to cause noise, but they can also cause the engine to have problems. Your car's exhaust system must be kept at a correct pressure to keep exhaust gasses from backing up into the engine. This not only affects fuel economy, but can slowly cause damage. Here are three common exhaust system problems your car can develop and what can be done about them.
Broken pipes, joints and holes:
Leaks are a common problem with exhaust systems. They are generally caused by rust or punctures, but they can be caused when components separate at the joints. Holes can also be punctured into catalytic converters and mufflers by road debris such as rocks or metal objects. You won't have any doubt of a leak if it occurs in front of your car's muffler. The car will run extremely loudly. If the leak occurs beyond the muffler or between the muffler and the resonator (if you have one), then it may not be as obvious. Most of the time, these problems can be fixed either by replacing the component or tightening the joints.
Plugged or dented components:
If your car's exhaust system is plugged, then it will have serious effects on your engine and its performance. Your car will struggle under load and you will have a noticeable drop in gas mileage. In some cases, cars with plugged exhausts will not run at all. Plugs can happen if something gets into your exhaust, like rocks or dirt, or your exhaust gets bent or dented. If the blockage can't be remedied through the tailpipe, such as pulling out whatever is blocking the air flow, then the pipe or component must be replaced.
Bad catalytic converter:
You may have more serious problem is if your catalytic converter is plugged or damaged. The special "honeycomb" inside the converter is coated with precious metals which can be easily damaged. This expensive component can be clogged by engine problems, such as a car that runs rich most of the time. It can also clog when a car is leaking coolant through the exhaust, or it can be damaged by putting contaminants in the fuel tank, especially anything with lead. Either way, once your catalytic converter goes bad, there is no other choice than replacement after the problem causing the damage is fixed.
Exhaust systems are designed to be long-lasting and mostly trouble free. If your car is driven in areas where it is prone to rust, then it is especially important to have your system checked periodically. Any time you have a performance or noise issue that can't be traced to other components, have your local auto repair shop check out your exhaust system for issues.