The intake and the exhaust systems have very important role in the breathing ability of the internal combustion engine. Therefore their shapes, pipes lengths and diameters have crucial effect on engine’s characteristics.
Many drivers or owners do not give a lot of attention to their vehicles exhaust systems. Yet the exhaust system is more than just a series of pipes hanging under your car. It performs important functions to keep your vehicle running efficiently. It also needs maintenance, just like the other systems in your car. If exhaust problems go neglected for too long, they can be quite damaging to your car and pocket. They can also put your health in danger.
The main job of the exhaust system is to release the gaseous by-products of internal combustion. Normally, these emissions are very toxic.
That is why modern cars have exhaust systems equipped with catalytic converters that convert the toxic exhaust into non-toxic water vapor and carbon dioxide. There are a few things that can go wrong with an exhaust system. However, a common and dangerous problem is a leak. Exhaust leaks usually occur for two reasons: Being mounted on the underside of your car, the exhaust system is exposed to a lot of road conditions that can cause parts to breakdown over time. The normal wear and tear that an exhaust system is exposed to means that older cars are especially vulnerable to leaks and should be inspected.
The water vapor produced by the catalytic convertor can also be problematic. When you only take your car for a short trip, the water vapor produced does not get expelled from the exhaust system. So, it condenses back into water, which can cause rust. Worse yet, sulfur are also another by-product in engine emissions. If it mixes with water left in the exhaust system, it can form a corrosive acid that can eat away at the exhaust system.
The problems associated with exhaust leaks vary by the size of the leak, its location and what type of fuel injection system your car has. Although most people think that exhaust leaks are little more than a source of irritating noise, the truth is that they can affect performance, fuel economy, emissions and present a danger to the car’s occupants.
The level of noise associated with an exhaust leak varies with its location. In general, the noise emitted by a leaking exhaust will get louder and sharper with proximity to the engine. A leaking muffler will probably only produce a low grumble, a leaking mid-pipe in the catalytic converter will produce a loud drone at highway speeds, and an exhaust manifold leak will emit a pronounced rap that rises with RPM.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:
The single most dangerous aspect of an exhaust leak is carbon monoxide poisoning. This colorless and odorless gas is a byproduct of combustion and, when inhaled, replaces oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in the blood. The immediate effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are nausea, headache and vomiting, followed by lethargy, unconsciousness and ultimately death.
For all vehicles produced after 1995 and having an exhaust leak upstream from the catalytic converter, then the exhaust leak will almost certainly cause a reduction in performance. This can occur because the engine’s oxygen sensors are not receiving correct information about the engine’s air-fuel ratio, which will cause the engine to inject more or less fuel to compensate. This decreases engine performance, particularly in the low rpm mode. The performance decrease caused by an overly-rich fuel condition will require the driver to use a heavier foot while driving, which will inevitably lead to a decrease in fuel economy.
Catalytic Converter Meltdown:
Catalytic converters use a matrix of metal to transform un-burned fuel into less harmful compounds but can only cope with some amount. Too much fuel in the exhaust stream will cause the converter’s internal temperatures to rise. This condition is called “converter melt-down” and can be extremely dangerous. An overheated converter can easily flash-ignite any surrounding combustibles, such as oil, transmission fluid and grease.
Source : The Independent