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What is the exhaust/what does it do?
The exhaust system is a vital part of a vehicle. Its layout will vary from vehicle to vehicle, and this depends largely on the type of engine your vehicle uses.
Getting into the details of the exhaust
The exhaust system consists of a series of metal heat-resistant pipes, clamps, gaskets and hangers. The first part of an exhaust system is an exhaust manifold that collects gases from the engine cylinders. This gas travels through the exhaust system and eventually exits the tail pipe. This tail pipe is the part of the exhaust that you can see if you look at the rear of the vehicle. It’s important that the exhaust system is operating correctly, as the engine gases can be toxic to the passengers of the vehicle. They contain, amongst other things deadly carbon monoxide.
After the gases are collected in the exhaust manifold they travel through a pipe to a catalytic converter. This catalytic converter removes all of the potentially harmful by-products of the engine gases such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen monoxide. The depolluted gases then through a resonator, which is used to change the sound of the exhaust so it’s more bearable to the ears. The gases then travel through the exhaust pipe, which like the other components in the exhaust system is made from metal. The gases then go through another sound-numbing part called a muffler. This works a little like a silencer on a gun and muffles the sound of the engine. The muffler has several tubes in it, some with holes in them. These tubes are arranged in such a way that the sound waves reflected from the engine partially cancel each other out. Lastly, the gases travel through the tailpipe and exit the exhaust, taking all remaining pollutants with them.
As well as muffling the sound of the engine and ensuring passengers do not come in to contact with harmful pollutants, the exhaust is also used to improve the performance of the engine and improve fuel consumption. This is because when an engine is in use, the gases it produces slow it down. With the introduction of oxygen, the engine can reach peak performance quickly. As the exhaust removes the gases, this allows clean oxygen to circulate and allows the engine to work more efficiently. This is also why some people prefer a twin exhaust, as using two pipes instead of one allows the gases to be removed more quickly. This also has the benefit of allowing for better fuel consumption, as the engine no longer has to work as hard to remove the gases freeing up energy for its performance instead.
What if something goes wrong with the exhaust?
Issues with the exhaust can be noticed in many ways. If there is a problem with the muffler, or a hole in the exhaust pipe you are likely to hear a much less pleasant sound from your engine. Holes in the exhaust pipe, or damage to the muffler is usually caused by the extreme temperatures an exhaust is subject to. It’s recommended that any damage to the exhaust system is repaired, particularly if it’s the catalytic converter that is damaged. If this is faulty, the driver and their passengers could be subject to exposure to dangerous gases that would usually be taken away from the engine.
Damage to the exhaust system will also result in a less efficient engine, so repairs should be swift. It’s also worth noting that a damaged exhaust is an MOT failure, and emissions will most likely show very highly when tested.