How To Clear a Clogged Exhaust (Expert Guide)

Do you want to know how to clean a clogged exhaust pipe? If yes, you are on the right page.

If you desire your automobile to perform at its best and remain suitable for a long time, you ought to retain its cleaning and maintenance. You should do this every so often because your car’s exhaust system can get clogged, which can cause more problems with your car.

To make sure your car works well, you should check the exhaust system to make sure it is free of dirt and debris and is clean.

In this article, we have provided steps on how to clean a clogged exhaust. Bear in mind that a clogged exhaust tends to be harmful and makes driving uncomfortable.

As you read on, you will also learn about ways of keeping your exhaust clean and how to clean a clogged Muffler and Catalytic Converter.

How To Clear a Clogged Exhaust

Having learned the signs of an exhaust system that is clogged, now you will learn whether it is a catalytic converter or muffler that leads to the issue. Once you can tell the difference, you start working.

When your car’s catalytic converter is clogged, you can easily remove most of the debris by doing a deep clean. You will have to buy another catalytic converter that suits your vehicle’s exhaust system.

Step 1

Check the fuel system of your car. For deep cleaning the catalytic converter, the fuel tank should be full of about 15 liters. Get your catalytic converter cleanser and look at the instructions to be sure it is the right ratio that you use cleaner with fuel.

Step 2

Pour that cleaning agent inside your fuel tank.

Step 3

Turn on your vehicle and drive for thirty minutes. For your cleaner to clean and circulate your exhaust system, you have to drive above or at an RPM of 2500.

Step 4

As soon as you are done test driving, if it was a successful process, your car will perform in the normal way. Also, when a blockage has been cleared, you will not have a problem with acceleration, no unusual sounds or odors, and your entire engine performance will be smooth.

The said method works better when your catalytic converter has been clogged a little. Nonetheless, there are times when the buildup causes a severe blockage that requires more time and work to remove.

If the cleaning solution fails to work, you might have to remove your converter and unclog it, then clean it well.

Signs of a Clogged Exhaust System

How To Clear a Clogged Exhaust

There are times when drivers feel the exhaust system is clogged. It is simple to spot such an issue in a vehicle because the signs are not hidden.

Every driver should be aware of such issues because when one drives with a faulty exhaust, it can lead to toxic emissions and remain in one’s motor.

When emissions are unable to virtually leave an exhaust system, they consequently acidulate an engine until it fails.

Below are the signs of an exhaust system that is clogged

1. Less Power From the Vehicle

If one is unable to accelerate when they hit the gas, or if acceleration takes too long, this sign is simply saying that emissions are caught up in the front of a catalytic converter.

2. Overheating Engine

When there is a clogged exhaust system, heated-up exhaust fumes get blocked in the engine and lead to overheating. When an engine heats up excessively, this makes the engine fail and damage it in such a way that you can barely repair it.

3. Difficult Start And Stalling

An exhaust system that is clogged makes it hard for a vehicle to exhale emissions. When gases are unable to come out of an exhaust, it has an impact on the way an engine starts or how it runs. A clear sign of an exhaust that is clogged is a failed ignition and unexpected stalling.

4. Awful Smell

An exhaust system that is clogged is usually caused by a catalytic converter that is blocked. When it becomes obstructed, it causes a bad smell or a sulfur-like odor. Other times, you may perceive a rotten egg odor, and you should do well and investigate the odor.

5. Bad Fuel Economy

A blocked exhaust system can be the reason why fuel burns more quickly than usual. There are situations when the department of gas mileage is not functioning well; it can mean that your exhaust system has a problem. Do well to check out the problem.

6. Engine Misfire

This is a unique sign that depicts the exhaust system is clogged, but it does not mean that it doesn’t happen. You should never ignore your engine when it misfires but rather investigate to know what the exact problem is.

7. Strange Noise

There are times when the issue is with your muffler and not your catalytic converter. When your exhaust muffler becomes clogged, drivers tend to hear a revving noise whenever they turn on the vehicle or if it is idling.

When you see any of the signs, you have to examine your vehicle’s exhaust system. Or when you realize that the muffler or catalytic converter is clogged, try repairing the issue at home.

If, by chance, you are uncomfortable with unclogging the exhaust, continue reading to find out the steps on how to do so.

Also Read: Can You Add Oil To A Hot Engine? (Expert Answer)

How to Clean a Catalytic Converter by Taking It Out

Step 1

Let your engine cool down entirely if the car has been in use. Next, use the jack to raise the vehicle, and let it remain that way the entire time.

Step 2

Find your oxygen sensors, then remove them.

Step 3

When you try removing the bolts from your catalytic converter, if it is tough to do so, use oil and try loosening them. Then remove your catalytic converter. You can allow a mechanic to do all of these for you.

Step 4

Immediately, you remove your catalytic converter and start cleaning it. Although you should ensure there isn’t a rattling noise (which may be a result of a damaged catalytic converter), the claim will not make it better. If the rattling is not there, go ahead with your unclogging step.

Step 5

Use the pressure washer to lower the setting and clean the inner part of your catalytic converter.

Step 6

Use a big container to get hot water, then put a degreaser in it before immersing your catalytic converter in your combination.

Step 7

After you have cleaned your catalytic converter, use a pressure washer to rinse it.

Step 8

Dry out the water from your converter and let it dry properly.

Step 9

As soon as your catalytic converter dries up, reinstall it in your vehicle.

Step 10

Having installed your catalytic converter, reinstall your oxygen sensors, and then carefully lower the car back to the floor.

Signs of a Clogged Muffler

1. The Muffler Lets Out Hydrocarbon

Muffler difficulties can be rather noticeable. If you notice a noisy humming sound from the engine, now is the time to inspect the Muffler for any clog. A clogged muffler will result in exhaust gases building up in the inner part and leaking through the seams of the system, leading to the loud noise you hear from the vehicle.

What is more? When you continue driving with a muffler that is clogged, it will less to more harm, such as a boost in the emission of hydrocarbon by increasing exhaust temperatures that muffler can cause a reduction in fuel economy (which is equivalent to high operating expenses)

2. It Makes Excessive Noise

A muffler that is clogged can cause suffering for an automobile owner. When you notice the noise from your engine sounding overworked, the muffler is probably creating more additional noise than normal.

A damaged or dirty muffler can lead to this issue, but most times the solution is to clean it. Do well to examine and change other damaged components of your car.

3. It Smokes

The muffler should not smoke, but when it does, you should clean it as soon as possible. When smoke comes from your tailpipe, it simply means that your muffler has been clogged.

Note that this can be due to other issues, like a cracked header or a bad catalytic converter. When your exhaust pipe emits very thick black smoke, this means that there are things that need to be cleaned in your vehicle’s exhaust system.

4. It Vibrates Too Much

If your Muffler vibrates without control, it may have been clogged. A muffler is a pipe that connects your engine to your exhaust system and reduces noise as well as air pollution.

If the pipe is clogged, the car will vibrate excessively, and this will cause room-fitting breakages or leaks. When it pertains to your muffler, the sign would be serious vibrations when you drive on uneven roads or over bumps. Repair either of them immediately to avoid further problems.

What Causes a Muffler to Get Clogged

1. Buildup of CarbonĀ 

If the exhaust pipes are not regularly cleaned and maintained, carbon particles will accumulate, and a muffler may become ineffective as a result.

2. Rust

Rust around the welds in an old muffler may result in an exhaust system blockage. Older vehicles with high mileage or infrequent maintenance are particularly susceptible to this; ignored catalytic converters also have the propensity to corrode over time due to their proximity to the hot water jacket of the engine (the part of the engine where coolant circulates).

3. Dust/Dirt Accumulation

If you stay close to an industrial region, go through one on your way to work, or even just drive through dusty places, the fine dust that is kicked up may wind up entering your car’s exhaust system and accumulating there until it causes harm.

Ways of Fix a Clogged Muffler

How To Clear a Clogged Exhaust

You must take the muffler out of the car if it is clogged. You could need some specialized tools for this, or you might need to visit your nearby auto parts shop for assistance. After being removed, clean off any rust and grime that must have developed over time with a wire brush.

1. Remove The Muffler

By taking out the bolts that are keeping it in place, you can slide it out of its nest. Given that it cannot be confused for anything else, the muffler should be straightforward to identify.

For access to the bolts holding your Muffler in place, you might need to remove some pieces of metal. Observe caution and take your time to avoid causing any harm.

Once your muffler has been removed, proceed to remove any other components that are in the way of you being able to access any congested areas inside your exhaust pipe (if there are any). These consist of elements such as wires, pipelines, etc.

2. Clean It

You’ll need a bucket full of degreasing detergent to start. The degreaser is necessary because it will remove any accumulated grime and grease from the Muffler. This will also assist in removing any rust or corrosion that may be present in your Muffler.

After that, let the Muffler sit in this solution for an entire night to allow all of the residues to wash off and soften.

After that, rinse the Muffler until all soap is removed, then let it air dry entirely.

3. Reinstall

It is time to reinstall the Muffler after it has been removed. If you’ve ever had your automobile fixed, you’re probably already familiar with this procedure: first, set up an outdoor workspace where you may operate.

Then, put on safety gear, such as gloves and goggles, before continuing; doing so can help you avoid injuries and scratches while working on your car.

Making sure there is enough space for installation should be your first step when reinstalling a muffler. Before moving on with the reassembly, clean the area around the exhaust pipe of any rust using an air chisel.

Also Read: EVAP Canister Functions, Symptoms, and Repair Cost

Frequently Asked Questions

What Happens When Your Exhaust System Is Blocked?

When an exhaust system is blocked, it affects the performance of the car like decreased fuel efficiency, increased engine noise and vibration. The most serious consequence is increased emissions and toxic gases that can become trapped inside the cabin. This can lead to health hazards such as respiratory problems or even carbon monoxide poisoning.

How Can You Clear An Exhaust that is Clogged?

Get a cloth, clean your exhaust tip, and get a very hard brush (bristle brush) to clean as deeply as possible. Next, apply degreaser to break up the rust and carbon deposits. Use a dry cloth to apply the degreaser outside and inside your exhaust system.

What Issues does A Muffler that is Clogged Cause?

A clogged muffler can cause a variety of issues, including increased engine noise, reduced fuel efficiency, and decreased engine performance.

Can a clogged Muffler cause Engine Problems?

Yes, a clogged muffler can cause engine problems because it restricts the flow of exhaust from the engine. This can lead to an increase in back pressure and/or insufficient airflow, both of which will reduce performance and decrease fuel economy. A clogged muffler can also overheat the engine due to increased heat build-up in the exhaust system.

What Normally Causes Exhaust System Failure?

Exhaust system failure is typically caused by corrosion, improper installation, or simply wear and tear over time. Corrosion often occurs from exposure to road salts or from leaks in the exhaust manifold gasket that have gone unnoticed. Improper installation can cause cracks at welds and joints due to localized heat stress on parts of the exhaust system not designed to handle it.

Wear and tear over time is usually a result of vibration that can loosen mounting bolts/nuts allowing contact with engine block reheat shields or other elements leading to holes forming within piping as well as creating additional contaminants due to exhaust buildup entering the interior cabin space for an even faster destruction process than just aging alone would provide for your vehicles Exhaust System.

What Issues Can A Faulty Exhaust Lead To?

A faulty exhaust can lead to a range of issues, including increased fuel consumption and emissions; reduced engine power; excessive noise, and emitting toxic carbon monoxide. Additionally, a damaged exhaust system may cause unwanted vibrations that could damage nearby components such as the chassis or suspension.

Final Thoughts

When the exhaust is clogged up, it can lead to an issue in your car. Your exhaust system seems like your car’s lungs, and if there is any blockage, your car will be unable to breathe well. A blocked exhaust system will lead to emmissions fumes being trapped in your engine.

Emissions from the fuel are toxic and must be cleaned from your catalytic converter, which comes out of your exhaust pipe. When your exhaust is blocked, you can fix the problem by yourself.

There are a lot of signs that will show that your exhaust system is blocked, and every driver should keep them in mind. Some of the signs of a clogged exhaust are a chugging sound from the engine, misfires, stalling, a failed ignition, and a smell like rotten eggs.

Your engine warning light might appear on your dashboard if there is a sign of a blockage in your exhaust system. Therefore, paying attention to car issues, especially your check engine light, is best.

In the course of reading this article, we have stated how to clear an exhaust system that is clogged. Car owners use many methods to clear an exhaust system that is blocked,, including soaking the muffler and cleaning the catalytic converter.

Having learned the steps to unclog a blocked exhaust system, you can help yourself and other road users.

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