Exhaust System Parts: Basics

Exhaust System Parts: Basics

The exhaust system is hidden underneath your vehicle. It is easy to forget about. You might not be aware of the parts that make up the exhaust system. Now is the time.

Becoming familiar with all the parts of the exhaust header modeling kit will help you be more in tune with your car. You’ll be able to identify the right parts and talk to your mechanic if you experience any problems.

Car Exhaust System Components

The exhaust system channels exhaust gases away from the engine and into the vehicle’s tires. The following are typical components of an exhaust system.

Exhaust Manifold

The exhaust pipe is where the exhaust gases leave the engine. The manifold collects all exhaust gases from the engine’s individual ports and then routes them to the rest of your exhaust system.

Catalytic Converter

The catalytic conversation controls harmful exhaust gases by converting them to water, carbon, and nitrogen. Some catalytic conversions are embedded in the exhaust manifold. Others are attached to a vehicle’s exhaust pipe. It is important to note that some cars may only have one catalytic conversion, while others can have up to four.

Oxygen Sensors

These oxygen sensors measure how much oxygen (or the concentrations of combustibles) is in the exhaust gasses leaving the engine.

Modern vehicles are equipped with both upstream and downstream oxygen sensors. The catalytic conversion is located in front of the oxygen sensors. While downstream sensors are located next to it, the oxygen sensors upstream are located below the converter.

The engine computer is also known as the powertrain control module (PCM). It uses data from the downstream oxygen sensor to regulate engine fuel mixture.

Exhaust Pipes

Multiple exhaust pipes connect all parts of an exhaust system. These pipes are often made from stainless or aluminized metal to resist corrosion and rust.

Muffler, Resonator

The muffler reduces, or “muffles”, the engine’s noise. The exhaust system has a sound canceller that cancels out specific engine sounds.


The exhaust pipe is the final link in your exhaust system. It directs the exhaust gases that have been cleaned up by a catalytic converter away from your vehicle and into the atmosphere.

Miscellaneous Exhaust Systems Components (Gaskets Heat Shields And Hangers)

Many people overlook the numerous bits and pieces throughout the exhaust system. For example, gaskets can be used to seal each component of an exhaust system.

Heat shields can also be used to protect the vehicle (and any objects beneath it) from heat from the exhaust.

Common Exhaust System Problems

Like all parts of your vehicle, the exhaust can experience problems. Common problems are:


There are many components in the exhaust system that can leak over time. Exhaust system leaks can be dangerous as they can expose you and your family to dangerous carbon monoxide. Additionally, a leaky exhaust system could cause oxygen sensors in your engine to mistakenly interpret a false lead condition. This can potentially lead to engine performance problems as well as an illuminated check motor light.


Due to upstream engine problems and impact damage, parts of the exhaust can become blocked. It can cause excessive back pressure to build up, resulting in the engine being choked. You may notice problems with your vehicle such as a lack of acceleration or hard starting.

Loose Components

Due to damage from impact, or missing fasteners, heat shields in exhaust systems can become loose. The undercarriage will make a metallic noise and you may hear it.

Exhaust hangers can get worn out and cause vibrations or clunking noises.


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