What causes exhaust failure?

What causes exhaust failure? 25th September 2014

Of all components of a car, the exhaust system is one of the most multi-functional, with the entirety of this technology performing a number of different tasks that make sure your car is running healthily. 

For many people, the only part of their exhaust they'll ever consider will be the section they can see at the rear of the vehicle, but there are actually three distinct parts that serve very different purposes. 

Firstly, the tail pipe (the external part at the back of the car) is used to direct fumes away from the inside of the vehicle. The silencer, as the name suggests, serves to control the noise that your car emits, while the catalytic converter is designed to control emissions and reduce pollutants in exhaust fumes.

These are all connected by a series of pipes underneath the car, and thanks to the rigorous tasks they carry out, they can corrode and become damaged quite quickly. The first time we normally notice this is when the silencer fails, causing the engine to make a rattling or roaring noise when the accelerator is pressed.

Other symptoms of a failing exhaust can include a knocking sound as loose components touch the bottom of the car while driving, and a smell of exhaust fumes that's stronger than usual, all signs that the exhaust should be replaced as soon as possible. 

But what can cause exhaust failure and necessitate replacing the exhaust?

  • Driving frequency. A common misconception is that an exhaust will last a general amount of time, but of course, it all depends on how often you drive. The more journeys you undertake, the quicker the metal will corrode and need to be replaced.
  • Driving style. Drivers who are accelerating faster will find they are putting more strain on the exhaust, which will mean it needs changing far sooner. 
  • Journey type. You may think that driving long journeys would put strain on the exhaust, but the opposite is true. Those frequently driving over long distances will find their exhaust lasts far longer than people who are undertaking many town-based short drives. The stop-start nature of the latter makes the exhaust work hard, and the materials will deteriorate far faster. 

Posted by Danielle Barge