5 Signs of an Exhaust Leak

As your engine runs, the exhaust gases and noise from combustion are routed through an exhaust system. The exhaust system safely routes unsafe fumes to the rear of the vehicle, away from the passengers and driver. It also muffles the noise of your engine operating and helps control emissions through the use of catalytic converters. The exhaust system is an essential component of your vehicle for a variety of reasons.

However, on most vehicles, the exhaust system runs underneath the car and is exposed to harsh driving conditions, road salt, debris, and extreme temperatures. Rust, damage, failed hardware, and worn-out gaskets can all lead to an exhaust leak, and exhaust leaks can impact your vehicle’s performance, emissions, and even your health.

Close up of rusted exhaust piping

Here are 5 indicators you have an exhaust leak.

1.)   Loud Operation

If you have an exhaust leak, one of the most noticeable symptoms is noise. If the leak occurs before the muffler or on the muffler itself, you may notice more noise than you are used to. Depending on the cause of the leak, your car may get louder and louder as time goes on as it increases in size.

Beyond just increased engine noise, you may hear unusual rattling, whining, or humming when accelerating, especially in smaller leaks.

2.)   Loss of Power 

An engine runs optimally when exhaust flow is uninterrupted. An exhaust leak causes a drop in back pressure, which can lead to a decrease in power and sluggish acceleration. A loss of power can be attributed to many potential issues. If you notice a loss of power in addition to some of the other symptoms on this list, an exhaust leak may be to blame.

3.)   Poor Fuel Economy

The fueling system in your vehicle uses oxygen sensors to determine whether your car is running rich (too much fuel), lean (not enough fuel), or stoichiometric (correct balance of air and fuel). The oxygen sensors are located in the exhaust system. A leak before an oxygen sensor can make it appear as if the car is running lean. As a result, the engine computer will request more fuel to correct the lean condition, reducing fuel economy.

When experiencing a lean or rich condition, you will most likely experience a check engine light illuminated on your dash.

4.)   Exhaust Odor While Driving

If you have an exhaust leak, you may notice the smell of exhaust fumes while you drive. This can be a major safety hazard. Inhaling the noxious fumes can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. If can smell exhaust fumes while you drive, roll down your windows (including the rear windows) and get your car to a shop as soon as possible.

poorly welded exhaust pipe leaking

5.)   Vibration

As fumes escape from leaks in the exhaust, noticeable vibrations can be felt while your car is on. The vibrations may become more severe when you step on the gas and the rate of airflow through the exhaust system increases.

This vibration may be felt most intensely in the gas pedal, especially as you press down to accelerate.

Let Becker Service Center Fix Your Leaking Exhaust!

Our technicians have the skills and experience to take on any exhaust repair job, big or small. Our ASE-certified techs can work on all makes and models. If you notice any exhaust leak symptoms while you drive, give us a call or schedule an appointment online today. We look forward to seeing you!