Why Exhaust Inspections Are Crucial for Family Vehicles

Vehicle's exhaust

Your vehicle’s exhaust system runs quietly in the background to keep your car running safely and efficiently. Most of us don’t even think about the sophisticated network of parts that works together to reduce noise, enhance fuel efficiency, improve engine performance and filter harmful gasses away from our vehicles — that is, until something goes wrong.

Issues with your exhaust system can impact your car’s fuel efficiency and performance, but more critically, a faulty exhaust system can expose you and your passengers to harmful emissions that can pose a threat to your health and safety. 

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the exhaust system and highlight why regular exhaust inspections are essential for safeguarding your family from harmful auto emissions and ensuring a healthy environment.

What Is the Exhaust System? 

The exhaust system runs the length of your car and works to channel and remove harmful gasses generated by your vehicle and direct them away from your car. The exhaust system is made up of the following components: 

  • Exhaust manifold. Collects exhaust gasses from the engine’s cylinders
  • Catalytic converter. Transforms harmful pollutants, like carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons, into less toxic substances like carbon dioxide and water vapor 
  • Muffler. Reduces noise levels by dampening the sound of exhaust gasses; it also provides the necessary backpressure to help your engine run more efficiently
  • Exhaust pipes. Channels cleaned gasses from the catalytic converter to the tailpipe 
  • Tailpipe. Expels the purified gasses into the atmosphere

Understanding Auto Emissions and Their Risks

A well-functioning exhaust system reduces the amount of harmful pollutants released into the air, but it does not eliminate them. In fact, motor vehicles are the biggest contributor to smog-cause pollution in Northeast Ohio — more than steel mills, chemical plants and power plants combined, according to the Ohio EPA

Emissions, made up of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane and nitrous oxide, can have serious consequences for the environment and people. Children, elderly or pregnant persons and anyone with pre-existing respiratory issues are particularly sensitive to emissions. Air pollutants from cars, in particular, have been linked to everything from cancer to asthma to heart disease.  

As a resident of Northeast Ohio, you’ve likely participated in the region’s efforts to reduce harmful emissions. Ohio’s e-check program, which has been in place since 1996, covers Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage and Summit counties.

E-check, short for emissions, requires motorists whose cars are more than four years old to complete emissions tests every two years. According to the state, e-check removes more than 74 tons of harmful vehicle emissions from the region’s air daily. 

4 Reasons to Schedule an Exhaust System Inspection

We can all do our part to reduce emissions in the environment, and that starts with making sure each of our vehicles is running as cleanly and efficiently as possible. Here are four reasons to have your exhaust system examined by a qualified technician

1. Safety. Keeping yourself and passengers safe is the No. 1 priority of every driver. One way to do that is to ensure the air inside your vehicle is not causing harm. If your exhaust system has holes, leaks or faulty seals, it can allow unfiltered exhaust fumes with high levels of carbon monoxide to enter the cabin.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to headaches, weakness, dizziness, confusion, blurred vision and even death. Long-term exposure to carbon monoxide can leave you with lasting cognitive and physical symptoms. 

2. Environmental Compliance. If you live in one of the seven counties covered by Northeast Ohio’s e-check program, you’re required to pass an emissions test every two years for vehicles more than four years old. If your car fails the inspection, you need to get it repaired in order to register your vehicle. 

3. Performance and fuel efficiency. A healthy exhaust system helps your vehicle run more smoothly and efficiently, leading to better gas mileage. If you’re also in the market for improved performance, you may want to consider a custom exhaust system. 

4. Noise reduction. You can usually tell when a car in desperate need of muffler repair rolls by. You can do your part to reduce noise pollution (along with emissions) by scheduling a muffler repair job and exhaust inspection. 

When to Schedule an Exhaust Inspection

Regular exhaust inspections should be a part of your routine maintenance schedule. Bring your car in at least once per year for a comprehensive once-over to ensure everything is running smoothly. If you spot any of the following signs between visits, make sure to schedule an appointment right away. 

Odd smells. Carbon monoxide is odorless, but the signs of a faulty exhaust system are likely to trigger other smells. If you pick up a burnt odor or see smoke coming from the tailpipe, get your car in for a check-up immediately. 

Loud noises. Hissing, burbling, rumbling and rattling can all be signs something is amiss with your exhaust system. If your engine sounds unusually loud (or if your neighbors tell you it is), you may have a problem with your muffler or even a cracked manifold. 

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning. Check out the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning above. If you find yourself feeling dizzy or nauseated when you’re in the enclosed cabin, get out of the car immediately and into fresh air. You can purchase portable carbon monoxide detectors to alert you of the presence of the gas.

If you’re in an accident. Even a fender bender that seems minor can damage your exhaust system in a way that could make it dangerous to drive. It’s a good idea to get your car inspected after an accident or collision to make sure everything is functioning safely. 

Your fuel efficiency drops. A faulty exhaust system causes your car’s engine to work harder and consume more fuel faster. A noticeable drop in fuel efficiency could signal a problem with the exhaust system. 

Finding an Exhaust Expert

The health of your exhaust system is closely tied to the health of the environment and your family and friends. Trust its repair to an auto repair shop that specializes in exhaust systems and mufflers and has the tools, equipment and skills to get you back on the road safely. 

Up Next: 5 Reasons Your Car’s A/C Isn’t Working — and What to Do About it

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