Americans are holding on to their current cars longer than ever—a record 11.3 years according to analysts at HIS Automotive. This is hardly surprising though, as research company J.D. Powers found that vehicles are only getting more reliable these days. Besides, not many can afford to buy a new car every few years.
If your car is entering its second decade though, you might want to get its exhaust system checked. As this article from KOLO 8 News Now reports, older vehicles are prone to exhaust leaks that can lead to potentially fatal carbon monoxide poisoning:
Jim Christian, service manager at Wayne’s Automotive Center in Sparks says carbon monoxide leaks are common in older cars.
“As they get older, things will wear,” he said. “If you have a leak in the exhaust system and you hear that ‘pst pst pst’ sound you have a leak.”
The colorless, odorless gas can easily seep into a car through the floor boards and vents. Depending on the size of the leak, it doesn’t take long for the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning to set in.
“Headaches, dizziness, not feeling well, those are all signs to look for,” Lt. Johnny Smith with the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office in Fernley said.
Christian says if you take your car in regularly for maintenance, your technician should be looking for any signs of wear and tear. But he says many times they will catch the damage, but people don’t want to spend the money for repairs.
As the article mentions, wear and tear affects all parts of a vehicle. However, exhaust systems are mounted on the underside of a car, making it more exposed to road conditions and thus more prone to damage.
How do you know if your car has an exhaust leak? Aside from the sound mentioned in the piece, faulty exhaust systems also produce a ticking, popping or roaring noise. Black soot on the tailpipe and exhaust is sure sign of leaks too. Be sure to check the undercarriage as well for signs of rust, as this can eat away at your exhaust system and produce leaks. If your car exhibits any of these problems, bring it to a mechanic who will check the muffler and flexible exhaust tubing’s condition.
If you’re concerned about the cost of parts replacement—as mentioned in the news item—there are now online retailers like Global Parts, Inc. that carry exhaust parts at much lower prices. Hence, you can buy parts, such as a quality exhaust elbow without breaking the bank.
(Source: Carbon Monoxide Leaks Common in Older Cars, KOLO 8 News Now, Jan 09, 2014)