66 exhaust system and catalytic converters

exhaust system and catalytic converters


By Vukasin Herbez on 2018-07-06 17:11:20

Remember when we told you that you can make a number of analogies between cars and the human body. Well, if the intake system is similar to human‘s respiratory system and fuel and air mixture is the same as a person inhaling air into the lungs, the exhaust system is identical to exhaling. This is why the exhaust system is very important for the proper functioning of the engine. However, there is much more than just exhaling the exhaust fumes from the engine to the atmosphere.

1. How the exhaust systems work?

The exhaust system consists of an exhaust manifold which is bolted directly onto the engine‘s cylinder head. After the combustion, exhaust fumes are sent to an exhaust manifold which sends it further into the flexible pipe and out of the engine bay of the car. The exhaust pipes are next, as well as a series of catalytic converters and mufflers before the exhaust fumes are finally released.

2. Mufflers

If the car didn´t have exhaust systems it would be a pretty loud and a quite dangerous contraption. The constant explosions of fuel and air in cylinder heads will blast sparks and flames from the engine and the noise would be unbelievable. Just imagine several thousands of small explosions in a minute. That is why the exhaust manifold is made out of cast iron to prevent any sparks or flames from exiting the engine and to send all the exhaust fumes down the exhaust system.

However, if the car would have just a straight pipe running out of the engine, it would still be brutally loud and uncomfortable, and that is why exhaust pipes have mufflers, two in most cases. The mufflers are devices which quiet down the engine by interrupting the sound waves but still maintaining air flow. Race cars have no mufflers for best performance but their sound levels are above normal and the noise they create is too much for human ears. You can remove the mufflers from your car getting better sounding and loud engine, but it could also get you in trouble with the law since the noise pollution is a big problem in modern urban environments and most cities have strict laws on how loud passenger cars can be. You can also buy aftermarket exhaust systems but they have to pass emission laws in order to be legal for sale.

3. Catalytic Converters

Since the exhaust fumes are toxic and consist of smoke and oil particles from internal combustion, manufacturers tried to make a way of cleaning the fumes before they enter the atmosphere. In the ‘80s, the industry came up with catalytic converters, an innovative device which is now required by law in all new vehicles. The catalytic converter is basically a filter which uses thermo-chemical reactions and cools down the exhaust fumes while cleaning the most polluting particles and gasses. It doesn´t clean the exhaust fumes fully, but it reduces the polluting aspect of exhaust fumes significantly which helps the environment. Removing the catalytic converter to achieve better performance or louder sound is illegal in most counties in the world.

4. Safety

When we talk about basics of exhaust systems we cannot forget the safety tips. Since the exhaust fumes are extremely toxic you must avoid running your engine in closed spaces like garages since you can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, be sure to always check your exhaust system for leaks since they can also be dangerous and send toxic fumes into the cabin. Most modern cars have stainless steel exhaust systems which are durable and trouble free, however, it is always better to be safe than sorry.


The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
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