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Signs of an Exhaust Leak

by Robert Tomashek

At one point in time or another, kids have attempted to get their bicycles to sound like a motorcycle by attaching a card for the spokes to hit. This provided a seemingly cool rumble or tapping noise. As adults we don't want our cars to sound like this, we want our cars to be smooth and quiet as designed. The sudden noise from an exhaust leak can sound like a serious engine failure and cause us some undo stress.


The first sign of an exhaust leak is often heard. A sudden ticking or tapping noise that is loudest when the engine is first started and lessens as the vehicles warms up may be an exhaust leak. The closer to the engine that the leak is the louder it may be. Exhaust leaks located beyond the catalytic converter may sound more like a hissing noise.


One purpose of the exhaust is to expel the exhaust gases out of the back of the vehicle. If you smell the exhaust from inside of your vehicle then that is a sign of an exhaust leak, and a dangerous one.

Check Engine Light

Any exhaust leak that is located ahead of the oxygen sensors can allow fresh air to enter the exhaust system. This will cause the sensors to read improperly and may cause the check engine light to come on.

About the Author

Robert Tomashek is an automobile technician and educator with more than 15 years of experience. He is ASE master certified and also carries certifications from IMACA, MOOG, Monroe, EPA and Four Seasons. He has a degree in automotive/diesel technology. He has written articles for various websites and teaches automotive technology at Universal Technical Institute.

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