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What Does the Exhaust System Do?

Exhaust Basics

Your vehicle is made up of many parts and systems that come together to power you down the road. The exhaust system is an important part of your vehicle. This complex assembly of pipes and manifolds performs a number of functions that are key to the safe operation of the vehicle. Read on to learn what the exhaust system does for your vehicle.

Primary functions

Your exhaust system has four main functions directly related to engine performance and driver/passenger safety.

Carry engine exhaust gases safely to the rear of the vehicle – As a result of the combustion process, dangerous gases like carbon monoxide are created. These gases would have a detrimental effect on the driver and passengers if they entered the vehicle’s cabin. The exhaust system contains and carries waste gases safely to the rear of the vehicle. Without a properly functioning exhaust system, your car could release harmful gases into the car’s interior, putting passengers at risk of breathing in carbon monoxide and other dangerous gases.

Reduce the engine sound level – The exhaust system reduces engine noise to keep others from hearing your vehicle as you travel down the road. The resonator and muffler are designed to limit noise as gases exit the exhaust system. Made up of perforatedholes or baffled chambers, the muffler reduces engine noise by creating opposing sound waves that reduce the original sound waves as they travel through the muffler. If you have heard a vehicle with a failing muffler, you’ll appreciate the important role this part plays in keeping your vehicle running quietly. In states that have exhaust system noise limits, a defective muffler can get you pulled over by the police, further highlighting the importance of maintaining this key part.

Maintain engine performance – The exhaust system improves the performance of the engine. Trapped exhaust gases can choke an engine, causing it to underperform with sputtering, lack of power, stalling or worst-case scenario, stopping completely. By converting and channeling these harmful gases out of the vehicle, your car can run efficiently. A leak or other defect in the exhaust system can also reduce fuel economy, costing you more at the gas pump when you fill up.

Reduce or eliminate certain engine emissions – Harmful gases like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons are generated during the combustion process. The exhaust system’s catalytic converter reduces the toxicity of these gases before they are released into the atmosphere. When gases pass through the precious metals in the catalytic converter, a chemical reaction takes place that reduces the poisons in the exhaust gases and makes them safer to exit the vehicle. A bad or failing catalytic converter will increase the harmful emissions released from the vehicle which is not only bad for the environment but could also cause you to fail an emissions test (for those who live in state with emissions test requirement).


The content contained in this article is for information al purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician or mechanic. We encourage you toc onsult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein. Under no circumstances will we be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any content.


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