Auto Expert: Understanding the Parts of your Car’s Exhaust System

by / Tuesday, 01 July 2014 / Published in Exhaust System

Hot Mechanic

A car’s exhaust system has evolved considerably over the years. With automotive manufacturers trying to outdo each other for the most eco-friendly car models, it’s no wonder that car designers are constantly trying to develop the exhaust system. But what exactly is an exhaust system, and how important is it that we should know more about it? Here’s what our auto expert has to say.

To the untrained eye, the exhaust system is made up of mostly pipes of different shapes and sizes. But to someone who knows cars, these pipes are part of an intricate system that pushes exhaust gases towards the back of the car and out of the muffler.

Many of these segments are specialized even if they all look alike. It may seem inefficient to have a bunch of pipes instead of just one, but what you need to understand is that each segment serves a specific purpose. It’s also much cheaper to maintain a system of pipes, instead of a main pipe in the long run. Can you imagine having to replace the whole system if the main pipe gets banged up? With the system, you’ll be able to easily replace the pipe that was affected without having to overhaul everything.

The exhaust system isn’t just comprised of pipes of course. There are also the headers, hangers, and the small components that ensure the system is in great working conditions. It just seemed logical to discuss the pipes first, since it’s the first thing you’ll notice when you look at an exhaust system. But without the exhaust header for example, the system would be incomplete.

The header is the component that collects the exhaust directly from the engine. So it’s crucial that the flanges form a tight seal with the ports to prevent the exhaust smoke from escaping. Once the smoke goes through the header, it will then flow through the different pipes that are part of the system.

Since it’s almost impossible to form a perfect metal to metal seal, the gaskets are fitted in between each pipe to ensure that the poisonous gases doesn’t escape and make it inside your car. Gaskets are made from heavy duty and heat-resistant fiber material that offers just enough flexibility to ensure a tight seal between pipes. Without it, smoke would just be everywhere when you rev up the engine.

The muffler is another important part of the exhaust system. This oval-shaped chamber is often found at the back of the car and is responsible for keeping the engine’s noise at bay. It’s also designed to ensure that the exhaust flows smoothly through, in the quietest and most efficient way possible. The muffler is said to be one of the most resistant parts of the system because it’s the part most prone to corrosion, heat retention and damage.

As you can imagine, the exhaust can be very toxic, so you need catalytic converters to reduce the toxicity of the smoke, which is also the car’s primary means of ‘cleaning up’ the smoke before it leaves your car. This part ensures that the level of chemicals present in exhaust smoke comply with government regulations so that they’re deemed to be harmless.

Our journey through the car’s exhaust system doesn’t end here. Stay tuned in the next couple of weeks as we discuss more on the exhaust system, and the things you can do to make sure yours is in excellent working condition.

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