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How to Tell if a Car Has an Exhaust Leak? 5 Symptoms

How to Tell if a Car Has an Exhaust Leak? 5 Symptoms

Understanding “how to tell if a car has an exhaust leak” helps you detect the problem early and prevent significant consequences. Here are the top five symptoms of an exhaust leak:

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


  • Weird engine noises
  • Difficulty accelerating
  • Reduction in fuel economy
  • Strong gas smell

Your vehicle is designed to run precisely. Any bias or disturbance in the input or the environment inside your car might lead to significant outcomes. One of the very important things that your vehicle maintains is a specific pressure and a closed system.

All the systems are closed, and there shouldn’t be any fluids or gases moving from one system to another. Otherwise, you'll deal with catastrophic outcomes that might cost you thousands of dollars on repair.

One of the very common problems with a disturbance in the vehicle is what's known as the exhaust leak. This article will provide you with all you need to know about the meaning of this exhaust leak and how dangerous it is to ignore it, along with some details about how to tell if a car has an exhaust leak. Finally, we will provide you with a rough estimate about how much it will cost you to fix the exhaust leak and what could happen if you ignored this issue.

What Your Exhaust Smoke Is Trying to Tell You


What is the exhaust leak, and why is it dangerous?

Before we dive into the details about “how to tell if a car has an exhaust leak,” it is essential for us to understand what does it mean to deal with an exhaust leak in the first place. Exhaust leak is not a very common problem that most drivers are aware of; therefore, understanding the basics helps you get an idea about how critical the situation is and how dangerous it is to continue driving your car with an exhaust leak.

In any vehicle equipped with a combustion system, the fuel and air are stored securely inside the cylinders where the explosion happens and where the energy is produced. Therefore, everything inside the cylinder should be prevented from getting outside the cylinders. This is because all that's generated is extremely hot and has a lot of pressure that might lead to damaging the internal components around the engine compartment.

Over time of use, there's a very high chance these seals will get worn out and allow some of the internal gases in the combustion system to leave. Imagine what could happen when these extremely hot and pressurized gases leave the cylinder?! Significant outcomes that might impact their safety and will cost you a lot of money on repair, especially if you ignored it for a long time.

How to tell if a car has an exhaust leak? Five symptoms

The good news is that when the exhaust leak happens or when it's just starting, you'll be able to tell by monitoring some of the very common symptoms of an exhaust leak. Therefore, one of the first questions you have to ask yourself is how to tell if a car has an exhaust leak?

Automotive experts put together a list of all potential symptoms of an exhaust leak. Let's take a closer look at some of these comment symptoms and try to take them seriously whenever we experience them:

1.    Weird engine noises

The first and most common center indicating that you're dealing with an exhaust leak is when you realize that the engine makes weird noises. But, of course, the more you drive your car, the more you'll be able to tell when these noises are normal or not.

Typically, with an exhaust leak, you'll notice that the engine makes weird rumbling noises, and these noises get louder every time you try to accelerate. Sometimes, you might notice it more like a hissing noise as the engine runs.

In general, any strange noises coming from your car should alert you that there is something wrong happening inside the vehicle. Whether these noises are related to an exhaust leak or not, you should take it seriously and consult your mechanic immediately to prevent dealing with it because that will cost you a lot of money.

Typically, automotive experts always say that if you detect the problem early, there is a very high chance that you can fix it at a lower repair cost, and you will most likely not need to install new components.

2.    Difficulty accelerating

The second symptoms that indicate you're dealing with an exhaust leak are when you have trouble accelerating your car. Imagine what is happening as you hit the gas pedal, you're asking the engine to produce more energy, and the engine doesn't have the right pressure inside the cylinders. Therefore, it won't be able to produce the energy you're requesting no matter what.

Depending on the severity of the exhaust leak, sometimes you might lose power completely. For example, you might try hitting the gas pedal, and suddenly your vehicle stops or turns off. This is extremely dangerous, especially if you're driving at highway speeds. Therefore, you must consult the mechanic immediately whenever you notice trouble accelerating your car.

Remember that difficulty accelerating your vehicle might be linked to several other stuff. In other words, if you're having a problem with a different system, you can also deal with difficulty accelerating.

Therefore cannot you tell immediately that it's a problem related to an exhaust leak. Instead, we should have your mechanic perform a thorough inspection and confirm that the issue is related to the exhaust leak, not something else sure it's keeping in mind that it could be a combination of multiple issues happening at the same time.

3.    Reduction in fuel economy

The other thing you might notice is that your vehicle will consume more fuel than it should. Typically, the engine requires a specific level of pressure, and if this pressure level is lost, it will sacrifice using more fuel to generate the energy needed.

That's why you'll notice that you're taking your vehicle more frequently than before to the gas station, and obviously, this can be a big hassle, especially if the gas prices are increasing.

4.    Strong gas smell

Finally, the exhaust leak might allow the gases to leave the cylinders, and a specific amount of fuel might also escape. Therefore, if you've ever got into your car and as you run it notice a fuel smell coming, you should take this issue very seriously.

Sometimes, fuel escaping from the right system into hot areas around the engine compartment might lead to fires, which is one of the worst conditions that any driver could get involved in.

It's important to note that all the mentioned symptoms might be linked to other problems, as we indicated before. Therefore, you must not immediately fix an exhaust leak or check for it unless you confirm some of the other common problems that could lead to what's you're dealing with. Your mechanic should have enough experience to tell what's going on by performing a certain inspection.

white smoke from exhaust

How much does it cost to fix an exhaust leak?

It all depends. Depending on the severity of the league, repair costs might range from $100 to $400. However, there are some instances where repair costs might build up to reach 1200 dollars.

Remember that exhaust leak repair cost differs significantly depending on your vehicle's brand and the location where you get the job done. For instance, if you're driving a luxury car, your repair costs will be much higher than someone else driving an old vehicle that doesn't require much input from the mechanic to fix the leak.

The other thing is that fixing the leak might require more money if you decide to go to a dealership versus a small independent shop. Therefore, you must be mindful about where you go if you're planning to save on money but keep in mind that you are also looking for a good level of mechanical skill sets to prevent introducing mistakes that could lead to further more complicated damages beyond what you can afford.

Can you drive with an exhaust leak?

There are many reasons you should never drive your car if it has an exhaust leak. The first one is because even if the leak is minor, there is a chance that you're driving experience will be impacted by the reduction in acceleration and fuel economy.

However, there are more difficult situations where the exhaust leak is major, allowing fuel to leak inside the car. So dealing with fuel leaks is extremely significant because it will lead to potentially hazardous fires and has carbon monoxide that can be extremely toxic. It's severe if you're dealing with respiratory problems or driving people who have reported problems.

Therefore, whenever you notice any of the mentioned symptoms about the exhaust leak, you should take the issue seriously and never delay fixing it because it's never worth it.

Exhaust Pipe Repair

What does an exhaust manifold leak sound like?

Sometimes it helps you understand what type of noise you should be looking for to detect the problem, which is a great idea. For example, while we mentioned that you'd be noticing some hissing and rattling noises, you can also notice some ticking or tapping noises in some instances.

But again, all these noises can be related to other problems and might sound the same here and therefore, unless you deal with the problem and confirm it to determine where the sound is coming from, it can be challenging to immediately tell for the first time what is this sound and what's related to.

Is it worth fixing the exhaust leak?

Exhaust leaks must be taken seriously, and even if you can't afford them, you must fix them or not drive them. However, there are some situations where the exhaust leak can be minor, and fixing it might not be very expensive. Therefore, you must consult your mechanic and get an idea about what expects for repair costs.

Unfortunately, suppose your mechanic confirmed that the exhaust is leaking extremely severely. There is no way you should continue this driving this car, and you must get it fixed even if it's not worth it or sell the vehicle if that scenario works best for you.

Do I Need to Replace My Fuel Filter

Final thoughts

Cars problems are very common, and dealing with what's known as an exhaust leak is also a comment but not every driver is aware of all the details. Exhaust leak means that some of you are hot gases in the cylinders escaped the cylinders and went to the surrounding components to cause damages.

It's important for you as a driver to detect these leaks as soon as possible to prevent dealing with safety issues. This article highlighted 5 common symptoms of an exhaust leak to help you answer “how to tell if a car has an exhaust leak?”

Note that sometimes repair costs might pile up and approach the value of your car. This happens; you should evaluate selling your vehicle and buying a better one that serves your needs without any issues. Cash cars buyer is one of the very limited companies that accept your vehicle no matter its type or condition!

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