So far in the blog we have had posts addressing the clutch, the gearbox, the drivetrain, the battery, the tyres, even the dashboard, but we have not yet had a topic about a very important component of your car – the exhaust. Some cars may have more than one exhaust outlets, sometimes two maybe even four, but they are all part of the same system. It is the job of the exhaust to expel the expended gases (the exhaust fumes) form the controlled explosion (internal combustion) of the engine. So the engine, burns the fuel in the process of internal combustion, and the exhaust takes the resultant gases away, allowing continued and efficient combustion.
The exhaust is clearly therefore an important component and plays a big part in keeping your car efficient. So how does it work? Well the exhaust is fitted directly to the cylinder head, via the exhaust manifold. It collects the exhaust gases created by the engine, and diverts the gases from each cylinder (whether 4/6/8/other) into a single pipe. The gases then travel through the catalytic converter, which converts harmful products of the internal combustion process such as nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide into inert gases. Some cars, those with more cylinders and particularly those with longitudinal engines may have more than one catalytic converter.
The gases then travel through the exhaust to the muffler. The muffler helps reduce the noise of the exhaust. This is a feature fitted for the benefit of everyone, both inside and outside the car. If you have ever had an exhaust fall off your car you will sympathise with just how loud a car can be when it does not have a properly functioning muffler.
After passing through the muffler the exhaust gases exit via the tailpipe. The tailpipe is almost always found at the rear of the vehicle in cars, this is to ensure the exhaust gases have as little chance of possible of entering the passenger cabin. This helps reduce the risk of poisonous exhaust gases potential causing harm to the passengers in the vehicle.
This is the main reason why it is so important to make sure your exhaust is operating properly – while noise is a nuisance, and a drop in your fuel economy and performance are annoying there are not a serious threat to your health or that of your passengers. If you suspect there is any problem with your exhaust you must get it checked as soon as you can. So what should you look out for?
Well the noise is a big clue; it isn’t usually just a bit louder, it is significantly louder. Like “oh my word, am I suddenly driving a rally car?” louder. This is just about the simplest test to carry out, and one of the most easily notable faults. How else should you check? You can get on your knees and look into the exhaust, looking for any obvious signs of damage. Another thing to look out for here is rust – A less frequent complaint in modern cars, but a rusty exhaust will not be performing optimally and could be in need of being replaced. A smoking exhaust isn’t really the fault of the exhaust, instead this is due to problems with other components, so don’t confuse this symptom.
As the exhaust system is so important to the safety of you and your passengers it is essential that any work undertaken on it is done by a qualified and experienced professional. Exhaust work is simply not something that should be attempted by the amateur mechanic, so please – if you suspect your exhaust is in need of replacement call A1 Clutches. We will help to get you safely back on the road.