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How to Troubleshoot the Exhaust System in Vehicles

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

A good way to handle problems with your Vehicles exhaust system is to tackle the culprit. Exhaust system difficulties could develop from several causes, so inspect devices from the engine to the tailpipe. Troubleshoot the exhaust system in a Vehicles by recognizing warning signs from exhaust system components. Work with a mechanic on the steps below that relate to most model years.

Under The Hood:

 How to Troubleshoot the Exhaust System in a Honda Accord

Inspect the exhaust manifold and cylinder head because leaks usually occur where these devices connect. Thermal expansion and contraction cause this problem. Shear stress afflicts the exhaust manifold gasket every time you start your Accord, drive it or turn it off. With time leaks can develop.

See if you hear an intermittent hissing or popping sound while the engine is going. Furthermore, look for paint discolorations or burns near the exhaust ports on the cylinder head. Make certain to check your spark plug wires and boots for burns.

Examine the joining area between the exhaust manifold and head pipe. The back-and-forth motion of your engine caused by drive torque leads to movement at the joint where the head pipe meets the exhaust manifold. Hot gases that escaped this area could cause discoloration. This relates to the 2.4L and V6 engines.

Check exhaust pipes for damage. Use the large pliers to put pressure on the pipes. Replace any pipe that breaks, tears or gives under pressure. Run the engine when testing your system because leaks and other problems are more obvious with the engine going.

Listen for strange sounds coming from exhaust areas including your muffler. A buzzing noise that increases with acceleration could reflect exhaust system problems. A whistle sound or high-pitched hissing noise in the tailpipe could result from system restrictions. Get a mechanic to read your engine intake manifold vacuum. Low readings generally mean exhaust blockage.

 How to Troubleshoot the Exhaust System in a Toyota Camry

Check the exhaust manifold and cylinder head. Leaks usually occur where these devices connect because of heat expansion and contraction. Shear stress affects the exhaust manifold gasket every time you crank up your Camry, drive it or turn it off. Leaks can result as time passes.

Listen for hissing or popping sounds occurring intermittently when the engine runs. See if you spot paint discolorations or burns around the exhaust ports on the cylinder head. Make certain to inspect your spark plug wires and boots for burns.

Inspect the area that joins the head pipe and exhaust manifold. The back-and-forth motion of your engine caused by drive torque leads to movement at the joint where the head pipe and exhaust manifold meet. Look for discoloration from hot gases that escaped this area. This pertains to the 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines.

See if the exhaust pipes suffer wear. Take large pliers and put pressure on the pipes. Replace all pipes that break, tear or give way to pressure. Keep the engine on while you test the system because leaks and other problems are more obvious with a live engine.

Determine if sounds come from exhaust areas around your muffler. Buzzing sounds that increase with acceleration for example, are a sign of exhaust system problems. A whistle or high-pitched hissing noise in the tailpipe could come from system restrictions. Ask a mechanic to read your engine intake manifold vacuum. Low readings indicate blockage.

 How to Troubleshoot the Exhaust System in a Chevy Cobalt

Listen to the car as it idles to see if it makes any strange sounds like hissing or popping. Accelerate the car and listen for any ticking sounds. Your Cobalt may have an exhaust problem if it makes noises.

Lift the hood of your car and check the exhaust manifold, which is in the cylinder block, for any leaks. Examine the manifold for cracks or holes which can cause exhaust problems like leaking carbon monoxide or gasses leaking into the car.

See if there are any loose parts along the exhaust system. You may hear rattling or your exhaust may sound loud. The parts may need to simply be replaced or tightened.

Examine the exhaust pipe when the car is running to see if there is any colored smoke coming out the of the tail pipe. Blue smoke may mean you need to change a gasket or an O-ring. Look for white smoke which may indicate a bad gasket. Check the level of fuel in your cylinder if you see black smoke coming out of the exhaust. This could indicate that you have a problem with your carburetor, your fuel pump, or maybe a spark plug that leaks.

Test your oil every few months using a dip stick. You want to see if it's too thick which may mean it's contaminated. Make sure there is no water or antifreeze leaking into your oil which can indicate an exhaust leak.

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