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Common Exhaust Problems on Your Truck

What are some common exhaust problems you could encounter on your truck?

In this article, we tell you what they are, what causes them, and how to fix them.

What Does a Truck Exhaust Do?

truck exhaust pipes
Photo by Ruffa A-zade via Wikimedia Commons Under Creative Commons License.

A truck exhaust works exactly what its name implies – it prevents toxic buildup in your vehicle by releasing gases and other wastes while the engine is on. As a result, your truck can easily run without taking a toll on fuel consumption.

What Kinds of Exhaust Systems Are There?

types of exhaust systems

The kinds of exhaust systems vary on the vehicle model and design. But basically, there are three common types:

  • Cat-back exhaust system – increases air flow release to help you save on fuel (with pipe diameter of around 2 and a half or greater).
  • Axle-back system – very affordable and easy to install.
  • Header-back system – improves speed and reduces amount of gas returned to the engine. It can be expensive.

What Are the Most Common Exhaust System Problems?

rusty exhaust system

The most common exhaust system problems are easy to spot, especially if you’re fully aware of your truck’s previous or normal condition. Some of these obvious issues are:

  • Engine rattling noise – engine muffler doesn’t work because link between it and the cylinder is broken.
  • Smelly exhaust fumes – happens when your truck’s burning too much fuel. Although the real problem depends on the color of the fumes.
  • Rusty exhaust system – is a result of your exhaust being exposed to the elements; air, water, salt, etc., which causes corrosion.
  • Faulty exhaust sensor – one of some exhaust sensor problems where engine’s unable to produce an accurate air-fuel amount that prevents your truck’s catalytic converter from functioning.

How Can I Tell If My Exhaust System Is Blocked?

truck overheating

This is another term for a choked exhaust system when it lacks the ability to dispel the gas waste which automatically affects its performance. Watch out for early symptoms of the following to help you immediately address any problem before it gets worse.

  • Truck struggling uphill – going steep surfaces is a lot of hard work as well as traveling 40 miles per hour.
  • Truck overheating – can damage head gasket responsible for proper lubrication and cooling processes.
  • Truck stalling while driving – poor fuel consumption due to too much fuel moisture.

What Happens When DEF Is Mixed with Exhaust?

diesel exhaust fluid
Photo by Scheinwerfermann via Wikimedia Commons Under Creative Commons License.

DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) is a substance that further reduces the amount of air pollution from the exhaust. On the contrary, many people experience diesel exhaust fluid problems associated with it like mishandling and contamination.

This is because DEF is only sprayed into the exhaust system and shouldn’t be mixed with diesel fuel. Because once it did, it creates crystal-like particles that can clog the main engine.

What to Do If I Have an Exhaust Leak?

exhaust leak repair
Image shows the exhaust clamp sleeve (top) and exhaust wrap (bottom) respectively, and how they’re put on your truck’s exhaust.

There are 2 ways of fixing an exhaust leak in your truck as long as you have these items:

  • Exhaust clamp sleeve – is a metallic band.
  • Exhaust wrap – is a strap that looks like a duct tape.

Take note, when using an exhaust wrap, your truck’s exhaust pipe should still be hot to further secure the wrap.

To check if you’ve sealed the leak, spray both sealants with some soapy water. If there’s absence of large bubble formations on the surface (to signify air escape), it means your exhaust is properly covered.

How Often Should an Exhaust System be Inspected?

exhaust system maintenance

In a usual setup, exhaust systems must be inspected on a yearly basis, especially when you’re using your truck for both work and non-work concerns. This is because apart from the average load capacity that your truck can carry, the mud, dirt, grime, and other external factors also affect their overall purpose and lifespan.

On the other hand, if you only use your truck during camping season or when you’re all set for a long vacation, having your exhaust system inspected every two years is enough for maintenance’s sake because element buildup can still take place, except it only happens gradually.

How Do You Check an Exhaust System?

exhaust system inspection

When checking your truck’s exhaust system on your own, here are a few things you should look at:

  • Exhaust system manifold – bolts on pipes should be intact and fit snugly.
  • Catalytic converter – inner lining should still be intact. If not, tapping it with a screwdriver produces a rattling sound.
  • Exhaust muffler – if dented or broken, restricts airflow and produces a loud sound.
  • Exhaust rubber mount – if broken, pipes can come loose and won’t stay in place once you shake them.


Common exhaust problems for your truck are easy to fix as long as you detect them at an early onset. However, if you noticed that your truck exhaust has more than one existing problem, it’s best if you ask a professional for help. Tell us what other truck exhaust problems you’ve encountered before by commenting below.




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