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Signs of an Exhaust Leak in the car

One of the common problems you might face when buying a car without running a vehicle inspection is an exhaust leak. An early detection, if the car has an exhaust leak, will prevent you from significant consequences and costly repairs in the future. Here are a few tips on how to detect if a car has an exhaust leak or not:

Cars are designed to function precisely. Any input bias or disturbance in the environment inside of it could lead to significant consequences. One of the things that cars maintain is a specific pressure and closed system.

When doing a car inspection, it is essential to ensure that all the systems are closed, and no fluids or gases are moving from one system to another. Otherwise, you’ll have catastrophic outcomes that might cost you thousands of dollars on repair.

This article will explain the meaning of this exhaust leak and how dangerous it is to purchase a car with an exhaust leak. We will also share view tips on how to tell if your potential purchase has an exhaust leak and what could happen if you purchase a car that has an exhaust leak.


why should I do an exhaust leak inspection?

To understand what it means to deal with an exhaust leak, we must first gain a basic understanding of the exhaust leak. 

A leaking exhaust is not a very common issue, but it can be a serious one. This is why understanding the basics helps you get an idea of how bad a situation is and how dangerous it might be to buy a car with an exhaust leak.

In a car with a combustion system, the fuel and air are stored securely inside cylinders before being mixed to create an explosion (controlled combustion)  that produces energy. So, everything inside the cylinder should stay within the cylinder.

That’s because any generated fluid would be extremely hot and have a lot of pressure on the engine, which could lead to damage in other parts of it. Over time, the chances are high that these seals will wear out and allow some of the internal gases in the combustion system to escape. 

Imagine the kind of damage these hot and pressurized gasses can do when they leave their cylinder. Potentially, there are significant outcomes that will cost you a lot of money in repairs. Additionally, If the previous owner of the car has ignored this issue for a long time, there can be a lot of repairs or replacements needed.

Car Exhaust Inspection by German Precision

How can I know if a car has an exhaust leak?

Automotive experts compiled a list of all possible symptoms that may indicate an exhaust leak. Let’s take a closer look at these common symptoms and try to take them seriously whenever inspecting a car: 

  • Noisy engine 

One of the first signs you should look out for when trying to diagnose exhaust problems is if the car has a noisy engine. But, the more you drive the car, the better you’ll be able to tell when these noises are normal or not.

A car with a faulty exhaust manifold gasket will create an exhaust leak that sounds like hissing or tapping. The sound is especially noticeable during a cold start or when you accelerate the car. 

Generally speaking, any strange noises coming from the car should alert you that something is going wrong inside the car.

Whether these noises are related to an exhaust leak or not, you should have this checked out professionally by a professional car inspector. This way you can avoid dealing with a car that will cost you a lot of money in the future or any problems down the road. 

  • Difficulty with power and accelerating 

Along with a loud noise, bad acceleration is the second symptom indicating you are dealing with an exhaust leak. The car’s exhaust problem will affect the performance of the engine. It won’t be able to accelerate, and you’ll lose power when accelerating on a car with an exhaust issue. This problem will worsen over time.

You can imagine what is happening as you hit the gas pedal and ask the engine to produce more energy. However, when there isn’t enough pressure inside of the cylinder (due to lack of compression), it won’t be able to produce any extra energy, even if you don’t know what’s going on inside the engines.

If you buy a car with an exhaust leak, and the leak gets worse over time, then you could lose power and speed when driving. A good example of this is if you try to push the gas pedal in the car it might suddenly turn off or stop completely. This is especially dangerous if you’re driving at highway speed. That’s why you have to inspect the car well and do a professional inspection whenever there are signs of trouble accelerating.

You might not know, but the car’s difficulty in accelerating could be linked to a different system. If this is the case, you could also be dealing with any other problems that arise by addressing them. 

It’s not always easy to know if a car has a problem like an exhaust leak or other problems. Instead, you should have it checked by a professional who will tell you what the issue is whether they find an exhaust leak or another type of problem during the pre-purchase car inspection. It’s important to keep in mind that the issues might be coming from multiple sources, so there could be more than one thing going wrong with the car.

  • Less fuel efficiency 

The other thing that you might not be able to notice directly is that the car will consume more fuel than it should. When the car’s power and acceleration decrease, often the fuel efficiency of the car also decreases. 

To get the car to function in the same way that it does without an exhaust problem, it has to work even harder by using more fuel and it will cost you a lot of money on gas. This can be a big hassle, especially the gas prices are increasing.

  • Strong burning smell 

When the gasket fails and begins to leak near any engine wiring or any parts under the hood that are made of plastic, the heat from the exhaust gases could cause these parts to burn. Those burning parts then release a burning smell that can smell like a burning engine and release a bit of smoke. If you smell any burning or see any smoke this could be a sign that there’s something off with the car. Also important to note, that an exhaust leak means a car is deemed unroadworthy and does not pass EPA/emissions standards. As the exhaust leak means a portion of the exhaust fumes are escaping directly into the environment, rather than being via the catalytic converter or DPF (diesel particulate filter).

  • Fuel smell 

The exhaust leak might allow the gases to leave the cylinders, and a specific amount of fuel might also escape. Therefore, if you’ve got into the car and as you run it you notice a fuel smell coming, you should take this issue very seriously and it could be a sign. Sometimes, fuel leaking from the right system into hot areas around the engine compartment might lead to fires, one of the worst scenarios a driver could get involved in.

It’s important to keep in mind that all these mentioned symptoms might be linked to other problems, as we previously mentioned. Therefore, you must have the car inspected by a professional car mechanic to avoid these dangerous issues before making any purchase. The car mechanic should have enough experience to tell what’s going on by performing a certain car inspection.

Note that when you buy a car with serious problems, sometimes the repair costs might approach the value of the car.


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Pre Purchase Car Inspector Melbourne

Klaus Sturm

Klaus is a highly experienced automotive professional with 35+ years in the industry, offering Pre-purchase Car Inspection and Vehicle Check services in Melbourne, Victoria. His expertise ranges from technician to service manager, earning him a reputation for exceptional customer service.