Where and how you drive affects your exhaust system. Knowing how and why this happens will provide you with a good understanding of your exhaust system and help you be on the lookout for exhaust damage. Here are some of the ways in which your manner of driving and driving surface may lead to exhaust leaks:
Driving on Rough Roads
Rough roads can damage different parts of the exhaust system and eventually lead to leaks. The loose rocks and other road debris can fly up and dent your exhaust system, which may lead to premature exhaust failure. Big rocks and edges of potholes can scrape the underside of the car and puncture the exhaust.
The exhaust system is held together with clamps, welded joints, rubber, and brackets, among other things. Extreme vibrations, such as those you may experience when driving over rough roads, may loosen any of these joints and components. The exhaust parts may then start banging against the car and experience damage leading to leaks.
Making Frequent, Short-Distance Trips
Frequent short distances are also bad for your exhaust system. It increases the risk of rust, which is one of the biggest threats to exhaust integrity. The risk is there because short distances don't allow the exhaust system to get hot enough, which means the water vapor generated by the exhaust system doesn't evaporate away. The water remains in different parts of the exhaust system, including the muffler, and accelerates their corrosion. Corrosion weakens metal and results in pinholes that you may not be able to spot with your naked eyes, but they allow gasses to flow through them.
Overheating the Engine
Most people know that overheating causes engine damage, but did you also know that it is also bad for the exhaust system? For example, overheating can cause cracks on the exhaust manifold. The manifold collects waste gasses from different combustion cylinders into one pipe. The exhaust manifold expands when heated and contracts when cool. Overheating may cause serious expansion that may lead to cracking when the manifold eventually cools and contracts.
Driving conditions that are likely to lead to overheating include:
- Towing heavy weights – overheating occurs because the engine has to work extra-hard to handle the increased load.
- Driving in dusty conditions – Dust can interfere with coolant flow and limit its ability to cool the engine.
- Driving in extremely hot weather.
Be on the lookout for exhaust leaks if your driving habits or conditions fit any of these three categories. Note that your ears or eyes may fail to alert you of small exhaust leaks. Therefore, regular inspections at an auto repair shop are necessary to detect and fix such leaks.