Your exhaust pipe is easier to damage than you’d think and it can be difficult to fix. Serious issues with your exhaust often indicate flaws in the vehicle’s internal components – enough to bring your car to a screeching halt.
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Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to prevent exhaust pipe issues. You can preventatively clean it on a regular basis, watch for signs of smoke and repair surface damage.
This guide is perfect for basic exhaust pipe maintenance, including how to tell the difference between damage and internal component issues, how to patch small holes in your exhaust pipe and how to clean it once these steps have been completed.
Is my exhaust pipe damaged, or is my engine not functioning properly?
While there’s no concrete rule as to how often you should clean your exhaust pipe, it’s worth checking regularly for imperfections and dirt. If you hear a hissing or tapping sound, it could mean your exhaust is damaged.
Your exhaust pipe is also a great way to determine if something is wrong with your vehicle. Billowing smoke, whether when you’re driving or sitting idle, is still the clearest indication of an engine problem. Dark or coloured smoke coming out of your exhaust pipe usually means an internal issue.
If your car is emitting black smoke, your vehicle is burning far too much fuel. If it’s blue, your car may be leaking and burning through oil. Gray smoke can mean a number of things – from transmission fluid to major oil leaks – and is difficult to diagnose.
How can I patch small holes in my exhaust pipe
Fully repairing or replacing your car’s entire exhaust system is an advanced project, one that should be left solely to an automobile professional. We’ll instead be covering how to patch and close small holes in your exhaust pipe before you can get your car to the shop.
If your exhaust is hissing or making tapping noises, you can either patch it with exhaust tape or use a repair epoxy. The tape wraps around the exhaust pipe and blocks the hole, while the repair epoxy should be applied with a putty knife into the hole or leak and left to dry. Avoid using duct tape, which is made of cotton and coated in polyethylene, making it flammable when your exhaust pipe heats up.
A professional should look at your vehicle in the case of smoky emissions. They can also help you a great deal if you have rust on the three main elements of your exhaust system (your muffler, exhaust manifold and catalytic converter).
How can I clean my exhaust pipe?
Cleaning your exhaust pipe is dramatically less expensive than replacing one that has deteriorated, but you’ll still need to use the right tools to safely give it a good shine. You’ll need chemically-resistant gloves, a degreaser, a metal polish, #0000-grade steel wool, a soft cloth, and a small, hard-bristled brush. To start, ensure your vehicle is off and has been off for a long period of time as you clean. The exhaust pipe becomes hot as the vehicle idles.
Wash down the exhaust pipe with soap and water to remove much of the visible dirt and grime. It’s important have a clean area for tough scrubbing, or even minor repairs. Once finished, apply the degreaser to the inside and outside of the exhaust tip. Use the soft cloth to clean the outside of the exhaust and use the hard-bristled brush to clean the inside as deep as you can go.
Wipe the microfibre cloth along the exhaust pipe to clean it of leftover gunk. Apply polish inside and out of the exhaust tip on the #0000-grade steel wool, then let it sit according to the time on the label. Carefully wipe the exhaust off with the cloth to reveal its new shine.
By knowing the difference between exhaust pipe problems and engine issues, you will know what to repair from the start. If you’re looking at a small hole in your exhaust pipe, there are ways you can do the repairs yourself. General maintenance, such as cleaning away any built-up dirt or grime, can help prolong the life of your exhaust. In the case of an extreme issue, such as engine problems and rust, you will need to seek a professional – the best way to make sure these issues are dealt with properly.