How To Tell If You Have An Exhaust Leak

Your car’s exhaust system is a crucial component of your vehicle. We rely upon our car exhaust systems to keep our cars and ourselves safe when driving. 

A car exhaust system works to remove harmful and dangerous emissions from the car, whilst converting them into less harmful gases that can be removed via the tailpipe. 

An exhaust leak generally happens when the gases produced inside your vehicle’s combustion chamber escape out of the exhaust system before it gets to your tailpipe to be removed safely. As it leaks, it may enter the passenger cabin of your car and can pose a threat to your health. 

Without a working car exhaust system, these dangerous gases can enter the car cabin and will be poisonous to you and your passengers. These emissions are highly hazardous, as they are often colorless and odorless, but can make you seriously unwell or even lead to death.

Car exhaust leaks can sometimes occur under your vehicle’s hood, where the exhaust manifold is placed. If the exhaust manifold is leaking or cracked, it can cause heavy damage and harm as it is close to the car’s ventilation system. 

If your car has a ventilation system or air conditioner, it will generally draw in air from the front of the vehicle. This will then pull in leaking exhaust fumes into your car, and you may be ingesting harmful gases inadvertently.

Your car exhaust can expel vast amounts of carbon monoxide, or CO. This is known as an ‘invisible killer’, as it is a very dangerous gas that can make people very sick. Carbon monoxide is an invisible gas that is highly undetectable, however it can have long lasting effects if you are exposed to it.

Some signs of carbon monoxide poisoning could be dizziness, headaches, fatigue, vomiting or confusion. These are all awful symptoms to suffer, but can also be highly dangerous if you begin experiencing them whilst driving. 

To avoid inhaling any harmful gases from your exhaust, you must ensure that your vehicle is in the best possible working condition.

Taking proper care of your car exhaust means that you are keeping yourself and your family safe from harmful gases and emissions. 

In this sense, it is vital that you know all of the signs and symptoms of a leaking exhaust, so that you can get it repaired as soon as possible.

How to Tell If You Have an Exhaust Leak

If you are unsure whether your car’s exhaust may be leaking, there are a few ways to check it out. 

Loud Engine Noise

The most common way to tell if you have an exhaust leak is to see if there are any loud noises coming from around your engine when using the vehicle. This may be the first sign of a malfunctioning exhaust.  

Increased engine noise levels is a direct result of a leaking exhaust. This is due to your exhaust escaping and causing your engine to rumble during use. You may notice that the noise will get louder over time, or during acceleration. 

You may also notice a hissing sound as fumes escape your exhaust system, this will only worsen. If this is the case with your vehicle, then you should get it checked immediately. 


Although many emissions and fumes from your exhaust can be odorless, if your car exhaust is leaking, you may notice a powerful odor coming from your car.

You do not want to ignore and breathe in these fumes, and you should take your car to an autoshop to fix the issue. 

Fuel Efficiency

Some drivers may notice a decrease in their fuel efficiency when they are suffering a faulty exhaust system.

This is due to the oxygen sensor detecting excessive oxygen levels leaking out, and it will therefore cause the car to use more fuel than normal. 

Not so Good Vibrations

Another symptom of a leak in your car exhaust is if the gas pedal is vibrating. Typically speaking, if there are any issues in your vehicle your car can vibrate, but the gas pedal is the first component that will suffer strong vibrations. 

The small vibrations on your gas pedal that you may feel when driving your vehicle, are a direct result of a faulty exhaust. This is because the fumes are exiting your exhaust through a tiny hole, which will cause reverberations. These can only get stronger if the hole gets larger.

If you have a leak somewhere in your exhaust system, your gas pedal may begin to vibrate when you are driving. As the leak gets bigger, the vibrations may become stronger, or your steering wheel may start to vibrate also. 

This symptom should not under any circumstances be ignored, especially if you start to feel more and more vibrations when driving your vehicle. 

In addition, if you ever have a check engine light, or any light indicator that signals there may be a problem with your vehicle, you should get it checked as soon as possible. Any problem with your vehicle can quickly become dangerous or even life threatening, so it is important that you take your car to the autopshop for regular repairs and checks.

Decreased Power

If your car exhaust system is not functioning properly, then you may begin to notice decreased acceleration and power when using your system.

Any problems with your vehicle such as this should be addressed and rectified before using it further. 

Our Best Tip

Although we have provided a list of multiple symptoms of a leaking exhaust, you should not wait until you have more than one sign before taking action.

A malfunctioning exhaust can cause fatality, and it should be rectified immediately. 

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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