5 Symptoms of an Exhaust Leak (How to Tell)

(Updated on December 14, 2021)

The exhaust system does two things for your vehicle. The first thing it does is converts all those toxic gases produced from the internal combustion process into less toxic gases. The second thing it does is it releases those gases through the tailpipe so that they can leave the engine and exhaust system. These gases, which are carbon emissions, are typically odorless and colorless to the nose and eyes; respectively. If you don’t have a properly working exhaust system, then these gases could potentially leak and find their way to the cabin of your vehicle where everybody sits. These gases are poisonous and can be fatal if enough of them are inhaled.

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Top 5 Symptoms

Obviously, you don’t want to wait until you are killed by carbon monoxide poisoning before you do something about your exhaust leak.  There are plenty of less serious symptoms to watch out for which will indicate you have an exhaust leak. All you need to do is respond by making the necessary repairs or replacing the necessary parts before the exhaust leak creates a health hazard.

Below are the top 5 symptoms of an exhaust leak that is coming from your car.

Bad Fuel Efficiency – When there is an exhaust leak, the engine control unit cannot get an accurate reading from the sensors about how much oxygen is coming and going from the valves. Because of this, the engine will burn more fuel to compensate for this. Then you will see a reduction in your miles per gallon and an increase in fuel costs. Of course, you could just have bad oxygen sensors too that could create this problem. But you will never know for sure until you bring your vehicle to the auto shop and have an expert check to see which one is causing the problem.

Noisy Acceleration – It is normal to hear a small roaring sound when you step on the gas pedal to accelerate the vehicle. This is the sound of the engine spinning its components and generating the necessary power to push the vehicle faster.  But if you are hearing any strange noises that you don’t normally hear, this could be an indication that you have exhaust fumes leaking from the system somewhere. You should be able to tell the difference between sounds coming from your exhaust and sounds coming from your engine.

See Also: How to Make Your Exhaust Loud

Noisy Engine – If the engine makes a loud sound after you start it up, it may be a sign that you have an exhaust leak. This leak could be the result of a damaged gasket that separates the engine block and exhaust manifold. Since this gasket is cooled and heated constantly, a crack is likely to form after a while. This will cause a noisy engine problem to occur as the exhaust fumes escape through the gasket.

Burning Odor – It is true that carbon monoxide is totally odorless and colorless. However, a damaged or leaky exhaust manifold could cause a strange burning smell to be noticed in the cabin. Remember that the exhaust manifold is responsible for gathering all the gases which come from the cylinders after the combustion process. But if this manifold were to leak, the burning smell from these gases will still be there.

Read also: 5 Signs Your Car Have Bad Fuel Inside the Gas Tank

Vibrations – If you step on the gas pedal and feel vibrations going into your foot, then you may have an exhaust leak. The faster these gases escape the more vibrations that will be felt. You may feel vibrations from the floorboards and steering wheel. It will eventually get to the point where the vibrations can be felt inside the entire cabin.

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