Exhaust Leaks: What They Are, How to Discover and Correct Them

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Exhaust leaks go, “WOOOOOOOOO…. You must be up cookin’ breakfast or somethin’, that’s like an alarm clock, WOOOO WOOOOO.” Wait around, individuals are whistle guidelines, but exhaust leaks can be nearly as loud and a pain to diagnose.  

What helps make exhaust leaks so tough is their inconsistent mother nature. They can pop up anywhere together the exhaust method, which is made up of several components and runs just about the size of the automobile. To find the resource of the leak, you have to have to know what you are searching for and listening for. 

To assist you in your quest, The Drive’s exhaustive editors have set jointly an instructive tutorial about the items of an exhaust, the triggers of exhaust leaks, the symptoms of exhaust leaks, and how to uncover them. Let’s begin.

What Is an Exhaust Technique?

A car’s exhaust process is an interconnected assembly of pipes, connectors, sensors, and mechanical units that is created to take care of and dispose of exhaust fumes that outcome from the engine’s combustion course of action.

What Does an Exhaust Procedure Do?

An exhaust system’s 3 most important features are: 

  • Funnel exhaust gases absent from the driver and passengers.
  • Peaceful the sounds developed by the internal combustion system inside of the motor.
  • “Cleanse” the exhaust fumes of gases that are destructive to individuals and to the ecosystem.

A clean underside of a vehicle.


Exhaust leaks can be particularly loud and bothersome.

Anatomy of an Exhaust Program

Most of these elements are produced of steel and intended to manage the stresses of living underneath a automobile. We’ll go from the closest to the motor to the rear of the automobile for much easier knowledge.

Exhaust Manifold

The exhaust manifold is bolted to the motor. It collects the exhaust gases from the cylinders and funnels them into one output tube. 

Catalytic Converter

A catalytic converter cleans the exhaust gases, in a way, by cutting down dangerous fumes exiting the engine. Working with catalysts, it converts hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrous oxides into byproducts this kind of as drinking water vapor, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen.


A resonator is like an echo chamber that is created to change the tune of the motor as the exhaust gases stream as a result of. 


A muffler allows to mute the loud sounds the engine results in.


The tailpipe is the last pipe that releases the exhaust gases into the air we breathe.

Connecting Pipes

Connecting pipes are found involving the various pieces of the exhaust process and occur in a range of styles and measurements.

O2 Sensors

Oxygen sensors inform the European to assist make confident the air/fuel mixture is accurate. 

Indications of an Exhaust Leak

There are many tells you have an exhaust leak. Look out for these signs and symptoms: 

Louder-Than-Usual Exhaust

If there is a gap in the exhaust, it could make driving, accelerating in particular, loud. Like, definitely loud. You will know. 

Buzzing, Hissing, Ticking, Popping, Puffing Noises

Relying on where the leak is, how huge the leak is, and what condition the hole is, a leak can make all kinds of noises and sound all forms of techniques. It will audio louder outdoors the car or truck and will most likely modify frequencies or get louder if you rev the motor.


If air is escaping by means of a crack, poor gasket, or hole, it could cause unwanted metal vibrations.

Worse Fuel Mileage

Dependent on exactly where the leak is, it may skip or steer clear of oxygen sensors that are critical to optimum combustion. If the oxygen sensor can’t supply an correct reading through, the European could possibly explain to the vehicle to use a lot more gas, which will harm your fuel financial state.

Exhaust Fumes in Front of Auto or Cabin of Vehicle

A single of the exhaust system’s capabilities is to make confident you aren’t respiratory in exhaust fumes. If you start out to smell exhaust at the front of the motor vehicle in the vicinity of the engine or inside of your genuine cabin, you have a difficulty.

Exterior Carbon Buildup

When you’re searching for the source and spot of the leak, preserve an eye out for black places. If exhaust is escaping, carbon particles could possibly establish up close to the leak.

Literal Holes in the Metal

Often a chunk of metal is missing from your exhaust procedure, it transpires. We’d bet a dozen Munster Donuts that is the resource.

A mechanic looks at the underside of a car on a lift.


If you can get your vehicle on a carry, it will be easier to inspect.

Causes of an Exhaust Leak

Your exhaust procedure could spring a leak for several causes, these types of as: 


Your exhaust spends its overall lifestyle staring at the ground. It will get sizzling, it receives chilly, it faces rain and snow, it is buck-shot with gravel, it’s sprayed with highway tar, and it bathes in other car’s leaked oil. Stainless metal can get a ton, but at some point, your exhaust is vulnerable to corrosion.

Bodily Impacts

Your exhaust is beneath the motor vehicle, and not every person drives on beautifully sleek pavement. Potholes, or other street hazards, could cause harm to the small-hanging exhaust system. It also may well get strike with rogue highway debris.

Failing Gaskets

Gaskets, this kind of as the ones located among the manifold and the motor, can degrade around time and generate uneven surfaces that make it possible for for leaks.

Bad Welds

If any person beforehand repaired the exhaust and did a poor work, it could consequence in new leaks.

Time and Age

Every thing fails eventually. In some cases your exhaust has place in the operate and wants to connect with it quits. 

Our Suggestions For Acquiring Exhaust Leaks

Discovering exhaust leaks can be tricky, but there are a few techniques to simplify the position. Check out these ideas.

Pay attention and Really feel

As soon as your car or truck is wholly cooled down, change it on, listen for the leak, and operate your hand alongside, but not on, the method to truly feel for air coming out. Commence from the front of the motor vehicle and work your way again. Utilizing a mate to once in a while rev the motor can enable.

Block the Exhaust With a Rag

If the first look at doesn’t operate, blocking the tailpipe with a rag can aid exaggerate the leak. Enable the car great down again, insert the rag to block most of the air, then start off the vehicle and research for the leak at the time all over again. Since the air are unable to escape from the tailpipe as effortlessly, it could possibly consider to use the leak for an easier way out. This could drive much more air out of the leak, which would make it easier to come across.

Soapy Drinking water

If you even now simply cannot uncover it, there’s yet another toolless method you can attempt. Right after letting the car neat down absolutely, spray doable challenge regions with a combination of cleaning soap and drinking water. When you change the car or truck back again on, the air coming out of the leak ought to theoretically blow bubbles or foam up. 

Smoke Machine

If you can afford it, automotive smoke devices do exist. Send out the smoke by the exhaust program, and it will exit as a result of the leak. 

Store-Vac Into the Exhaust Pipe

Opinions vary on this popular system, as some consider it could perhaps be unsafe to your vehicle. 

Initially, just take a cleaned-out Shop-Vac and change the suction tube to the blower hole to build a reverse impact. Attach that hose to the tailpipe and produce force inside the exhaust procedure. This need to theoretically exaggerate the leak, which will make it simpler to find.

The get worried is that air is not meant to be blown the reverse way by means of an exhaust program, and it could blow contaminants again up into your engine.

The exhaust system is tightly tucked underneath a car.


Inappropriate welds from earlier repairs could lead to leaks.

Fixes for Exhaust Leaks

Sad to say, exhaust perform tends to be left to the gurus, as many of the troubles are relevant to metallic corrosion and need substitute, which needs welding. In some situations, even so, you could possibly be ready to get absent with changing bolt-on areas or gaskets. Budget-friendly suggestions could include things like sealants, tapes, and putties, but those people are only momentary fixes that will sooner or later need to have to be dealt with at a afterwards time.

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FAQs About Exhaust Leaks

You have bought questions, The Push has responses!

Q: Is It Ok To Push With an Exhaust Leak?

A: You can do it, but you need to address and fix your leak as swiftly as probable. 

Q: Will an Exhaust Leak Throw a Code?

A: It could, dependent on where by it is. If the leak is massive enough to have an effect on a little something like oxygen ranges, it will spring that code.

Q: So How Substantially Does It Price tag To Take care of an Exhaust Leak?

A: If you consider your automobile to be serviced at an exhaust maintenance shop, you need to likely established apart $150-400 for parts and labor, dependent on what desires fixing.

Q: Ok, then What Does an Exhaust Leak Smell Like?

A: What arrives out of an exhaust leak is just exhaust gases, so it will have hints of gasoline, as effectively as notes of metal and burning.

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