Muffler & Exhaust
MUFFLER / EXHAUST SYSTEMS – THE BASICS
The muffler / exhaust system of your vehicle is a critical part of maintaining the performance of your vehicle. Here at Myers Automotive Group, we aim to be the informational source for all things related to your exhaust and muffler. How does your exhaust work? As soon as combustion happens in your vehicle the exhaust and muffler systems take over, removing the spent gasses in a clean, safe manner. Ensuring that the airflow isn't interrupted and that the combustion is handled accordingly is a main concern of ours.
There are a number of components in your vehicles exhaust system. Given how intense of a system handling burning hot gasses from an engine is, there is plenty of opportunity for something to go wrong. Here is some basic information regarding each component function and recommended service guide.
EXHAUST MANIFOLD REPAIR
Your exhaust manifold is the first place the hot and dangerous gasses go when leaving your vehicle's engine. The exact shape and construction of the exhaust manifold can play a crucial role in vehicle performance. Keeping a healthy exhaust system is crucial for engine life and performance.
An exhaust manifold attaches directly to the cylinder heads in your engine, and act as the tubing that moves them from the cylinders, through other systems, and out the tailpipe. Each cylinder has its own connecting tubing, with all tubes eventually coming together into a single pipe that leads to the catalytic converter. Think of an exhaust manifold as a funnel of sorts, where gas from the 3 to 16 cylinders funnel into one pipe. An exhaust manifold is normally made of stainless/regular steel tubing or cast iron. For more performance based engines, an exhaust manifold can be coated in a ceramic paint. This is done either on the inside, outside or on both sides of the exhaust manifold. The purpose of using a ceramic coating is to insulate and provide better high heat performance for the manifold, since this area is exposed to some of the highest levels of heat in the engine.
Is It Time For Service?
Exhaust manifolds can crack or break over time. When this happens, both the heat and toxicity of the exhaust become an issue. In your engine there are a number of plastic or rubber parts. Heated exhaust leaking from the exhaust manifold can potentially damage or melt these components. If there is a loud noise coming from your engine while it is running (louder than usual) then the exhaust manifold could be a potential culprit. If you also notice a drop in engine performance, the exhaust manifold (among other things) could be to blame. Your check engine light will also alert you to a need for exhaust manifold repair, as will any exhaust like smells coming from the engine.
HOW A CATALYTIC CONVERTER WORKS
Do you notice your vehicle doesn't accelerate like it used to? Then it may be time for catalytic converter repair. Catalytic converter failure is normally a symptom of a larger issue. If you think you're suffering from catalytic converter failure, the best place to start is with a full engine inspection and car tune up.
A catalytic converter may not offer the exciting horsepower of a turbo, or the performance grip of racing slicks, but it does play a crucial role in the overall performance of your vehicle.
The catalytic converter drastically reduces the harmful emissions in your exhaust by creating an oxidization reaction. This means harmful emissions from the engine (like Carbon Monoxide, Hydrocarbons, And Nitrogen Oxides) pass through the converter, where a series of metals (usually Platinum, Palladium, and Rhodium) arranged in a honeycomb or other filter like design react to those emissions. This reaction causes harmful gasses to change into less harmful, more environmentally friendly gasses.
Here's a rough break down of what's going on inside such a small space:
Harmful gasses like Carbon Monoxide, Hydrocarbons, and Nitrogen Oxides are being oxidized and turned into safer gasses, like Carbon Dioxide and Water. This results in a much safer amount of emissions leaving the exhaust pipe on your vehicle. For the curious, we've included a more detailed description of this process here.
When To Book Catalytic Converter Repair
Without a catalytic converter, your vehicle would not pass any safety or emission checks. Not only that, but you vehicle would be a constant source of toxic emissions. A clogged or otherwise damaged catalytic converter can cause acceleration issues or even engine stalling.
HOW A MUFFLER WORKS
Unlike other components in your vehicle, a muffler doesn't have such a strong affect on your overall performance. That's not to say it doesn't affect performance though, as a functional muffler can help your vehicle squeeze in a few extra horsepower. The general purpose of a muffler is reduce the engine noise coming from your exhaust system. This is done by creating sound frequencies that cancel each other out.
Simply put, your muffler is a set of contained metal tubes that dampen the roar of your engine. Sound travels through the exhaust and to the muffler, where it bounces around (or "resonates"). While bouncing around, frequencies are created that cancel out the sounds of the engine, and when sound leaves the muffler it's much quieter than it was coming in. The easiest way to spot some needed muffler repair is to listen to your car. If it's much louder than normal, it may be time.
When Is It Time For Muffler Repair?
A muffler may seem unnecessary then, if it's simply for noise reduction. The problem is an engine is really quite loud. So loud in fact, that driving without a muffler is a ticket-able offence in most provinces. Ontario specifically states in subsection 75 (1) of the Highway Traffic Act that:
(1) No person shall operate a motor vehicle or motor assisted bicycle unless it is equipped with a muffler that is, (a) operating; (b) in good working order; and (c) sufficient to prevent excessive or unusual sound and excessive or unusual smoke.
So if you notice any of these issues (excessive sound or unusual smoke) then it's likely time to book your muffler repair service.
EXHAUST PIPE REPAIR
Exhaust Manifolds, catalytic converters, and mufflers would all be useless if there wasn't a way for exhaust gasses to move freely between them. An exhaust pipe isn't just a metal tube that sticks out the back of your car. The term "exhaust pipe" applies to all the tubing in your vehicles exhaust system, from the combustion cylinder to the end of the tailpipe.
Exhaust gasses are very, very hot. Exhaust pipes are normally made of regular, aluminized, or stainless steel. Aluminized and stainless steel offer the best resistance to corrosion, but are more expensive than regular steel. Some people choose to have their exhausts ceramic coated, the theory being that insulating the piping makes for faster removal of gasses, which leads to increased performance. Currently, the performance gains from ceramic coating are a debatable issue among automotive enthusiasts.
With all the driving that is done in a day, and especially with the salt-covered roads in winter, it's common for metallic exhaust components to rust or become otherwise damaged. When this happens your vehicles performance, gas mileage, and safety can all be affected. Your exhaust pipe also houses your oxygen sensors, which relays valuable air mixture information to your fuel injection systems. When these become damaged, your engine may end up consuming too much gas, costing you more per trip.
Is It Time For Service?
An exhaust system is a difficult system to diagnose. When your engine gets louder, fuel economy drops, or performance seems to dwindle, you can start by looking at your exhaust systems. No component of the exhaust system is corrosion or damage-proof, so any part is able to fail. Exhaust pipe repair is essential for allowing gasses that are incredibly hot and toxic to become cooler, quieter and safe to breathe.