Your vehicle’s exhaust system is the piping used to guide reaction exhaust gases away from the controlled combustion inside your engine. A loud sounding exhaust is the easiest symptom to identify when your exhaust system needs maintenance or repair. Most cars do not need any exhaust work for upwards of 8 to 10 years due to corrosion resistant stainless steel used in exhaust systems installed at the factory. However, age and driving environment eventually wear these components out and cause leaks or they can fail internally, as is the case with catalytic converters.
Generally you don’t have to replace the whole exhaust system. They are usually built in 3 or 4 sections that can be replaced individually, so honing in on the damaged section can save you money and get you back on the road quicker. The exhaust system consists of a header pipe, catalytic converter, intermediate pipe, and muffler; After a visual inspection it becomes clear where we need to focus our efforts to get you back in working order again.
When do you replace it? The one thing that will tip you off that it is time for a repair is noise. You may notice that it is starting to rust from a visual inspection, but it is a leak that is the main concern. Leaks make noise, so they are very easy to diagnose. Rust in this case is the virus, and the leak is the symptom that needs medicating.
What is the maintenance interval?
This is a tough question, but generally speaking you will go 8-10 or even 15 years without needing to replace anything in your exhaust system. Rust is the main culprit, so in Victoria we get a very long life out of an exhaust. A by product of a combustion engine is water, so even in dry climates they will begin to rust from the inside out as condensation collects on the inside of the exhaust pipes.
What happens if I postpone this repair?
If it is loud now, it will just keep getting louder. When you leave at 5am to catch that first ferry you will not be very neighbourly. Leaks close to the oxygen sensor may throw off its readings, which means the onboard computer gets incorrect info which effects the air to fuel ratio. This can cause your car to use more fuel than is necessary, which is never good.