How do I know if my exhaust needs replacing?

Owning a car comes with many responsibilities, and one of them is making sure that your vehicle is properly maintained. A faulty exhaust, for example, can lead to poor vehicle performance and may be dangerous to your health and the environment. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to identify when an exhaust replacement is necessary as many drivers don’t know which signs to look out for.

If you’re wondering whether you may need an exhaust replacement or service, this article could answer all of your questions! Not only that but we also explain why it’s essential to maintain your car exhaust system and the associated benefits.

What Is An Exhaust System?

Before we discuss the question of “How do I know if my exhaust needs replacing?” and the warning signs, let’s understand what it is. You vehicle’s exhaust system is an arrangement of pipes and components that work together in perfect harmony to expel harmful combustion gases away from your car while decreasing engine noise levels. It consists of many components, including the catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, sensors, silencer, and the exhaust pipe.

Common Signs That You May Need An Exhaust Replacement

As a car owner, it’s important to recognise potential issues with your vehicle and one component that is often overlooked is the exhaust system. However, if you know what signs to look for, you can prevent major problems in the future. Here are some of the most common warning signs that you may need an exhaust replacement.

Know when to replace your car exhaust
Loud or Strange Noises

If you start hearing strange noises coming from your vehicle, like rumbling, hissing or popping sounds, it’s likely a sign that something is wrong with the exhaust. This often indicates either a loose silencer and/or pipes or the presence of holes.

Poor Fuel Efficiency

If your vehicle is unexpectedly using a lot more fuel, a faulty exhaust could be the culprit. Remember, when engine struggles to release exhaust gases, it has to work harder which results in increased fuel consumption.

Recommended: Easy Ways To Improve Your Vehicle’s Fuel Efficiency

Nasty Smells

If you get whiff of rotten eggs, it could be a sign of an underlying issue with the catalytic converter, and should never be ignored. The moment you notice this odour, it’s imperative that you address it as soon as possible. Not only is this bad for your health but it could also lead to more expensive exhaust repair costs down the line. Another odour that may warrant further attention is a hot engine smell which could indicate a faulty gasket.

Poor Performance

When you feel your car lacks power and is sluggish when accelerating, you may need to consider an exhaust replacement. If you’re experiencing any type of performance issues, a clogged pipe or damaged catalytic converter could be the likely culprit. Don’t let this issue linger – address it right away!


If your vehicle is vibrating more than usual when it’s idling or while driving, it could suggest a problem with the exhaust system. This can be as simple as a loose component or a loose mount in the exhaust pipes/manifold but it’s still worth checking out as soon as possible to avoid further damage.

Exhaust Rust

Rust is a common problem with car exhausts due to their constant exposure to moisture and other damaging elements. If you notice any rust patches or discolouration on the exhaust pipes, it’s time for an exhaust replacement.

Visible Smoke From The Exhaust

If you notice smoke coming out of the exhaust, it’s a sign that something is wrong with your vehicle. Depending on the colour and smell of the smoke, it could suggest an issue with the engine or even a faulty catalytic converter. Either way, this needs to be addressed right away.

At Elite Garages, you can book a FREE exhaust check where our expert vehicle technicians will perform a visual inspection to get a clear indication of any visible damage.

Benefits Of An Exhaust Replacement

Since your exhaust system is vital to your car’s performance, fuel efficiency, and safety, neglecting this important component could result in serious issues in the future. By paying close attention to the signs mentioned in the previous section and getting an exhaust replacement or repair, you will reap the benefits, including the following:

  1. Improved fuel efficiency: A new exhaust system can improve your car’s fuel efficiency, saving you money in the long run.
  2. Increased performance: A new exhaust system can increase your car’s horsepower and torque, providing a more enjoyable driving experience.
  3. Reduced emissions: A new exhaust system can reduce harmful emissions, helping to protect the environment and improving air quality.
  4. Better sound: A new exhaust system can provide a deeper, more satisfying sound, enhancing the overall driving experience.
  5. Safety: A faulty exhaust system can lead to a buildup of toxic gases inside your car, which can be dangerous for you and your passengers.

How A Diagnostic Test Can Help Identify Whether You Need An Exhaust Replacement

A diagnostic test can help identify potential exhaust problems as most modern facilities, like Elite Garages, have diagnostic equipment that can read the codes generated by the car’s onboard diagnostic system (OBD).

When a fault is detected, the OBD system will trigger a diagnostic trouble code (DTC), which car technicians can be read and interpret using the appropriate equipment. For example, the equipment can identify issues with the oxygen sensor, catalytic converter or exhaust pipe. From there, the garage can recommend an exhaust replacement or repair.

If you’re concerned about passing your MOT, it’s important to pay attention to both the exhaust and emission levels. Your car will only fail if there is a major leak or unsafe CO2 emissions detected during an inspection. Smaller issues such as minor leaks or corrosion may be noted in the advisory document for future reference, but won’t result in an MOT failure.

Why Choose Elite Garages For Your Exhaust Replacement

We have several branches conveniently located across the south and south east of England with experienced, highly trained vehicle technicians and the latest equipment.

At Elite Garages, we recommended checking your vehicle’s exhaust at least twice a year for any signs of damage, including corrosion and rust. Most importantly, be sure to have it looked at the moment something doesn’t feel or sound right whether it’s from hitting a speed bump too fast or general wear and tear.

Remember, if you use your car for frequent short trips, it’s more likely that your exhaust will suffer from corrosion much sooner than when driving long distances. Keep this in mind as you plan out your routes! If you think you may need an exhaust replacement or have a specific question about your car, please contact your nearest Elite branch today.


In closing, it is crucial to keep your exhaust system in good condition as it plays a vital role in the overall performance and safety of your vehicle. By knowing the signs that you may need a new exhaust, you can take the necessary steps before it becomes a bigger and more expensive issue. With an exhaust replacement, you can enjoy the benefits of improved performance, fuel efficiency, and reduced emissions.


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If an exhaust has a hole or crack, it needs to be fixed right away. Not only can this cause #toxic fumes to enter your car’s cabin but it could also increase the risk of fire. An exhaust leak can cause the engine to run too hot or even fail due to lack of back-pressure from the silencer and tailpipe. If left unchecked, it may also result in increased emissions which could lead to failed emission tests and costly repairs.

A broken exhaust can produce a hissing sound, rattling, a low rumble or even a loud roar. It might be louder when you accelerate the engine and quieter when idling. In some cases, it may sound like air being sucked out of the engine instead of an actual noise. If something is wrong with your catalytic converter, you may experience a rattling sound that tends to get louder as the vehicle accelerates.

Depending on the make and model, how you drive, the environment it’s exposed to and regular maintenance checks; car exhausts can last the lifetime of the car. Generally built with either chrome or stainless steel, today’s car exhausts boast an impressive lifespan of 3 to 5 years but sometimes even more.

A faulty exhaust may result in #strange noises, reduced power and poor fuel economy, visible smoke or fumes, a rotten egg smell inside or outside the cabin and the engine dashboard light appear.