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To most of our customers the exhaust system is just something that hangs underneath their car and when it breaks it makes a loud noise and costs a lot of money to replace. Well the second part is true they do now cost a lot of money to replace, especially if you include the catalytic converter in with the price.
The first thing that your exhaust does is to transfer the gases produced by your engine from the front of the car (the engine) to the rear of the car, expelling the gases into the atmosphere. In the olden days pre-emission testing days the gases were a high pollutant, but now because of the new car technology, cars produce far less toxic gases than they used to.
The exhaust system usually comprises of three or four different parts depending of the model and engine size of the car. They start at the front of the car with the catalytic converter, which is connected via a normal piece of pipe to one or two silencer boxes and sometimes a piece of chrome pipe to add a finish as the exhaust system leaves the underneath of your car. The catalytic converter reduces the amount of CO2 gases that leave the engine, by filtering the gases through micro porous ceramic honey comb type structures, the emissions are monitored through lambda sensors that are screwed into the cat and send messages to the on board computer that all modern cars have.
The rest of the exhaust is pretty simple in comparison to the cat. The exhaust systemboxes are filled with a fiber glass type material that quietens the sound made by the engine. In the USA these are called “mufflers” because put simply they muffle or quieten the sound as it enters the box. Exhaust systems are probably one of the few things that differ in quality, a cheap exhaust system will probably only last for about 18 months, but a much better system say one that is made by a company called “Bosal” will last up to four times, because of the superior quality of the metals used in the making of the parts. Bosal exhausts are one of the best.
Well starting at the front, a big problem is from the gasket that bolts your exhaust system to the engine. This gasket can become worn and deteriorate because of the high temperature omitted by the engine. When this happens the noise will be deafening, but they are not usually difficult to fix. The next problem is just common old rust. The complete exhaust system is attacked by rust from the day that the car hits the road. Also to add to this is salt, especially here in the UK where we use in Winter in great quantities. Eventually the rust will attack the most vulnerable parts of the exhaust and a piece will fall off. Stainless steel exhaust systems are the only cure for this problem but, they cost two or three times the price of mild steel systems in the first place, so they are not always a viable alternative.