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How To Check For An Exhaust Leak

Have you ever noticed that the exhaust of your vehicle is loud, especially when it is running? It is quite an annoying experience, especially if you are stuck in the middle of long winding traffic. The noise will undoubtedly irk you. But more than the nuisance, this should cause you to concern as well. An exhaust that is too loud is a sign of a leak. 

The leak can be found in various holes in the exhaust manifold, mid-pipe, muffler, catalytic convertor, or flex pipe. It is also possible that it is produced by the old and worn gaskets within these parts. Exhaust leaks can also appear as dark-colored soot, which is produced by contaminants and carbon dioxide.

Meanwhile, leaks that are adjacent to the middle or front of the car are capable of finding their way to the cabin. Specifically, they can bypass the holes scattered in the floorboards, firewalls, or even the window. 

How To Check For An Exhaust Leak

In Enclosed Areas

If you are planning to inspect the exhaust of your vehicle in an enclosed area, such as your garage or workshop, you have to make sure that it is adequately ventilated. Keep in mind that the exhaust system of cars produces carbon dioxide, which is harmful if accumulated in a single space. It is crucial that the fume will escape in the workplace safely to avoid health hazards.

Inspect For Black Soot, Holes, and Worn Gaskets

As mentioned earlier, there are various causes of these leaks. You should start your work in the exhaust manifold. Visually inspect all the parts down to its muffler. See which parts have damages. You have to be thorough on this job, as some of these flaws are small. Don’t forget to check the quality of the gasket. Worn gaskets can cause leaks, too. Moreover, make sure that you check the exhaust for any signs of black soot. The latter is a remnant of contaminants and carbon dioxide.

Check The Noise

After the visual inspection, it is essential that you can check the sound of your exhaust. In fact, it is the one that determines if there’s an issue that requires troubleshooting in this part of your vehicle. Keep in mind that exhaust pipes get hot when you start them. Therefore, it is not safe to touch them directly. The best thing that you can do is to wear gloves and touch the part where you suspect that there’s a leak. If you feel air pressure, it is a sign that there’s a leak there. 

A hissing sound can also indicate that there’s a leak in the exhaust. You’ll notice this, even if the engine of your vehicle is running. 

Alternatively, you can also place your gloved hand to the end of the exhaust. It is a good way of spotting pressure. A properly functioning exhaust will generate enough force to move or push your hand. On the other hand, a leaking exhaust has minimal to no pressure. The air that should come out in the pipe is redirected to the leak. If this is the case, get an assistant and have their hands on the end of the tailpipe. After this, hover your hands above the exhaust system and check for escaping air. Don’t touch any parts of the exhaust. 

Use A Mirror

If you still hear that there’s a leak but couldn’t find it using the methods listed above, try using a mirror. Mirrors are excellent utilities for inspecting for exhaust leaks. The idea is pretty simple. The mirror reacts when there’s moisturized air. It is similar to our eyeglasses. It fogs when our breath gets in contact with the lenses. 

Put the mirror to the area where you feel that there’s a leak. If the mirror fogs when you put it on that specified location, it means that there’s a leak that you need to deal with. If there are no fogs, find other areas and see if there are leaks there. 

It is recommended that you’ll go to automotive repair shops if you have spotted leaks in your exhaust system. Mechanics can provide a comprehensive diagnosis over the problem and offer multiple solutions to deal with the issue. Sometimes, they will ask you to replace the parts that are already damaged.