The right amount of fuel is mixed with just the right amount of air. Fuel is then burned to keep the engine all fired up, with the pistons pumping and the vehicle running. The exhaust system then takes care of the exhaust gases and makes sure that they'll be led out of the vehicle from the burning chamber. Different components of the exhaust assembly all work together to make sure that everything turns out well.
How each part of the exhaust system works
Connected to the engine block, the exhaust manifold leads extremely hot combustion gases away from the cylinders and into a series of pipes until they're flushed out of the vehicle. Manufactured from cast iron, aluminum, or stainless steel, the manifold is able to handle extremely high temperatures.
These pipes are made of aluminum or metal. They serve as a passageway for exhaust to be carried away from the engine and flushed out of the tail pipe.
The exhaust system not only escorts combustion gases out of the vehicle. These gases also run through the catalytic converter that helps filter their harmful contents like carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides. It reduces the harmful effects of the exhaust by converting it into safer, cleaner emissions.
Located near the exhaust tip, the muffler is there to absorb noise, so when the exhaust has completed its course and has come out of the tail pipe, there won't be any unwanted sound.
If the exhaust manifold is the upper end, the tail pipe is the last leg of the exhaust assembly. This is where exhaust gases are funneled out and finally expelled into the atmosphere.
How to diagnose exhaust system problems
Examine the muffler.
A closer look at the muffler will reveal if it already has rust or punctures. The muffler should have a shiny surface and should appear solid.
Check the entire line of the exhaust system for cracks or pipe holes.
The best way to detect exhaust assembly problems or defects is to visually inspect the pipes and other parts like the exhaust manifold. See if there's any crack on the pipes and if the manifold's connection to the cylinder and main pipe is intact.
Test the intake manifold vacuum.
Crank up the engine to check the intake manifold vacuum as it idles. You should be able to get a reading of around 18 inches. If the result is much lower than this, then it could be a sign of a restricted or plugged exhaust.
Take note of strange noises from a running engine.
You can detect exhaust system problems through noises made by a running engine. If you hear a hissing sound or popping noise, this usually means that there's a leak in the muffler or one of the pipes.
Tap the pipes using pliers or a screwdriver.
If the pipes are corroded, you can feel it through their weakened body or surface.
Look for burned or discolored paint on the exhaust port.
Inspect the exhaust port right next to the cylinder head. If you find any discolored paint or any sign of burning, then the exhaust system might not be working as it should or at its prime. You'll have to run some tests.
See if the catalytic converter is still in good condition.
Detach the catalytic converter for a minute so that you can hold it against the light. You should be able to see light through the converter. If not, then it means that this may be clogged, in which case a replacement may be necessary.