Exhaust systems are susceptible to leakages, and though you may detect loud noise fairly easily, you won't be able to spot a leak if you're not careful. So every time you get under your car, take a look at the exhaust system and search for any leaks. If you spot a leak, then here's a guide to help you in troubleshooting it.
Perform a comprehensive inspection
For a leak, you'll first need to know its origin. Start with the engine and then slowly move toward the tailpipe, which is the rear area that guides the exhaust fumes out the vehicle. The catch here is not only finding the leak, but noting potential leaks too.
Cautiously check the exhaust manifold (the part that takes fuel and air to the cylinder) and where it links up with the cylinder. This is a common leaking spot because there's a lot of contraction and expansion that occurs whenever the engine is powered and shut down.
You could also listen for hisses or look for burned spark plug wires to locate the leak. Escaping hot gases would cause the hissing or burn the wires.
Find potential leaking spots
As you go on with your search, have a pair of pliers to test the integrity of your pipes. A visual scan would help you notice any holes, but you won't be able to judge the state of the pipes fully. Some pipes may be rotting away. If the pipes give in when you apply pressure to them using the pliers, then they need to be replaced. You can also poke the muffler at any rusted points to know whether it's only on the surface or goes a long way in. Also, inspect your exhaust system when the engine is running. This will give you a better chance of detecting more leaks. You need to find all the sources of trouble and make a one-time repair.
Repairing the system
If the exhaust pipes and mufflers are not too damaged, then they can be fixed. However, replacing them would be a better option if the number of leaks is plenty. If you've got a tight budget then you need to get some muffler repair tape or putty. Simply preheat the car by starting the engine, and then apply the tape over the leaking points. Finally, take your car for a drive so that the heat can fuse tailpipe and the tape.
Alternatively, you could purchase an exhaust manifold repair kit. They usually have a propane torch, oxygen-acetylene, thread tape and lubricant. You can take off the exhaust bolts and remove the flange after which, you weld the damaged areas to block the leaks.
For more information or for help with repairs, contact a local car service shop.