Know your car exhaust system

13th, June 2017

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In any type of combustion engine, an exhaust system will be needed to take fumes away from the engine itself and to vent them somewhere else. These fumes are the gases given off when fuel (petrol or diesel) is burned in the engine, and they need to be handled carefully.

Understanding your car exhaust system

During the history of car exhaust systems and catalytic converters, there have been many changes, but there has always been an exhaust system of some sort. Even back to the Model T Ford, there was a pipe which led fumes away from the engine and out at the rear of the car.

The first innovation to the system was to add silencers or mufflers which reduced the noise of the engine considerably. The first patent for a muffler was issued in 1987 in Indiana, USA to Milton O. Reeves. A silencer uses acoustic soundproofing to decrease the noise from an engine, however, quiet has always been a trade-off with engine power.

When environmental concerns were raised about car use, the American market responded by introducing a catalytic converter in 1975. These first \'two-way\' catalytic converters took the gases produced by the engine and turned them into carbon dioxide and water. By 1981 a three-way catalytic converter had been developed which further reduced emissions. Any cars built in the UK after 1993 had to have a catalytic converter fitted.

Looking after your exhaust system

Problems can be hard to detect in an exhaust system until it is too late for repair, so it\'s worth having your vehicle inspected regularly by a trained fitter. Many centres offer \'while you wait\' services for tyres and exhausts, often with free fitting if you need to replace part or all of the exhaust system. For the catalytic converter, it is usually only when a vehicle has an emissions test as part of the MOT that a problem becomes obvious. It\'s possible to \'tune up\' the catalytic converter if emissions are a problem.

Signs there may be a problem

If you spot any of the following signs, then take your car along to have it inspected as soon as possible:

Rattling noises - the brackets holding the exhaust on may need tightening
Roaring noises - there may be an issue with the silencer
Hissing or popping noises - there may be a leak in one of the exhaust pipes
Blue smoke - engine oil could be leaking onto the exhaust system
White smoke continui

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