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Car tips & advice | 15.05.2014 - 23:14

How to Troubleshoot Exhaust Problems

If your car is acting funky -- strange smells, rattling, discolored smoke from the tail pipe -- you may have problems with your exhaust. Read on to learn how to identify and solve exhaust problems.

Imagery – or appeals to the senses – is frequently something pleasant. Writers can use appeals to smell, color, and sound to draw readers into stories. However, imagery in the form of smell, color, and sound can also indicate problems with the exhaust system of your car. The smell of rotten eggs, the sight of blue, gray, white, or black smoke spewing from your tailpipe, or loud bangs or squeaks can indicate a problem with your exhaust system.




A rotten egg smell can have a few different causes. The catalytic converter in a car functions to break down the sulfur in fuel into odorless sulfur dioxide. If your catalytic converter breaks down, your car will smell like a long-forgotten breakfast. Other causes of this rotten odor could be an engine running hot or a broken fuel pressure regulator. A new catalytic converter may be in order.


In addition, a strong smell of exhaust in your car can indicate a leak in the exhaust system. Even more dangerous, however, is the leak that you cannot smell—carbon monoxide. If you find yourself with unexplained headaches while driving, you are probably facing a different kind of headache – a leaky exhaust system. As carbon monoxide can lead to dire health problems, this problem should be fixed quickly.


Exhaust Color—Blue, Gray, White, or Black


Blue or gray smoke trailing from your exhaust pipe can be caused by worn piston rings. The solution is to replace piston rings or valve seals. White smoke or water vapor can mean that transmission fluid is making its way through the intake manifold to the vacuum modulator. Solutions here range from replacing the modulator in the best case to replacing a cracked engine block in the worst case. Black smoke can be caused by leaky fuel injectors, which should be replaced, or possibly from problems with the ignition system. To address this problem, check the distributor cap and rotor.


The Sound, but Not of Music


If you find yourself constantly turning up the volume on your car sound system, it could be that your exhaust system is rattling, but not in the “shake, rattle, and roll” sense. Rattles originating from your exhaust could be caused by a bad catalytic converter or loose converter cover. In addition, your exhaust system could be misaligned. You could even have a loose bracket or clamp. Holes in the exhaust pipes can also cause a noisy exhaust.




Problems with your exhaust system can have serious health consequences and are best addressed by trained automotive technicians. Automotive technicians have the expertise that years of experience and training bring. In addition, auto repair technicians at Speedy Brake and Apollo Muffler use state-of-the-art computers to diagnose and fix exhaust system problems. Angie's List offers commonsense guidelines for getting a sense of what the problem with your system might be before you take your car to a professional.


Exhaust problems express themselves in a variety of forms. An unpleasant smell, color of smoke, or sound can indicate a serious problem with your car. These problems are best ultimately diagnosed and fixed by professional automotive technicians.

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