Whether it’s a performance exhaust or a standard exhaust system, the efficiency of your car’s exhaust system is only as good as the maintenance you provide for it.

But any part of a vehicle will eventually deteriorate over time. And if you have a damaged exhaust system, it is possible that your vehicle’s performance, fuel economy, and sound may be negatively impacted.

Listed below are the seven telltale signs of a faulty or broken exhaust or muffler:

1. Loud or Grinding Exhaust

A loud or grating exhaust is a sign that your muffler is likely failing. A faulty or damaged muffler will typically require replacing or repairing.

Replacing a muffler is not difficult, but because mufflers have to be specially designed for a particular car, 4×4, or SUV, it should be installed by a specialist.

Failing exhausts and mufflers can also be a sign of bad timing, as a failed timing chain will often cause the muffler to create a loud and grating sound. And if your muffler is making a loud buzzing noise, it could be a sign of a bad oxygen sensor.

2. Exhaust Smells Like Gasoline

In many cases, a leaking fuel injector will cause fumes to seep into the exhaust system, resulting in your exhaust smelling like gasoline. This is a sign that your exhaust system has a leak and is not functioning the way it should.

3. Bad Fuel Economy

If your fuel economy is dropping or you only get around 5,000 miles on a tank of gas, then it’s a sign that your exhaust system is not functioning as it should.

Poor performance of your exhaust system will cause your engine to run too rich, which means that it is getting too much gas, but too little of the air it needs to burn the gas effectively. This will harm your car’s fuel economy.

4. Exhaust Smells

A bad exhaust or muffler can also create unpleasant odors inside your car or truck, which can be pretty bothersome. The bad exhaust will typically cause your car to smell like a mixture of rust, exhaust, and burnt toast. 

5. Exhaust Sounds Like a Flushing Toilet

When you hear a “flushing toilet” noise coming from your exhaust, it is a warning sign that your engine is running too lean and not getting enough oxygen, leading it to run rich.

Your fuel economy will suffer due to a poor state since your engine will burn too much gas with inadequate air. The vehicle’s air filter may be clogged, preventing air from reaching your engine and causing it to run overly rich.

As a result, the exhaust would become rich, resulting in the flushing toilet sound.

6. Exhaust Gets Bald Spots

If your exhaust gets bald spots, it may leak into your exhaust system. A leak will cause your exhaust to be uneven, which will cause overheating and damage to your exhaust.

7. Exhaust Has Rusty Spots

Any rusting of the exhaust pipe indicates a problem that must be addressed. Most exhaust systems rust where the exhaust pipe hits the muffler. Rusty pipes indicate a failing muffler, necessitating repair of the muffler and exhaust pipe. 


The exhaust is a vital part of your car, and it only works as well as it is maintained. If you see signs that your exhaust is damaged or defective, you should take your car to a mechanic as soon as possible. Waiting too long to fix your exhaust system may cause irreparable damage to your engine.

At Hoover Automotive, our customer’s happiness is what matters to us. We provide diagnostics, tune-ups, engine swap, performance upgrades, and all kinds of auto repair in Hoover, AL. Give us a call to schedule a service.

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