Exhaust muffler paste put on vehicle's flex pipe.

Exhaust leaks: Make sure to repair them right

In Inspection by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Choosing to solve a car problem the quick way might not be for the best long term.

A vehicle that was brought to our shop had exhaust muffler paste on a flex pipe. The customer had done this to stop an exhaust leak.

However, there are some problems with the way the leak was addressed.

This repair doesn’t follow Virginia safety inspection guidelines. According to the Virginia state inspection, you aren’t allowed to seal up an exhaust leak using muffler paste. 

This also isn’t a permanent solution. It may work for a little bit. But as the paste heats up and cools down, and you hit bumps in the road, it eventually falls off. Then, you’re back to your original exhaust leak. 

It’s also important that you not solve exhaust leaks with paste because if it did crack when you’re going down the road, those exhaust gasses can build up in the vehicle, which is bad for you.

How to fix exhaust leaks

There are a couple of ways that you can correctly fix an exhaust leak. The first option is replacing the pipe and all the components that are tied to it. You can also sometimes buy flex pipe pieces, cut out the old section, and weld in the new one. 

The only problem you could run into when putting a replacement flex pipe is if the pipes are rusting or are too far gone. You may not be able to weld the parts on and the pipes would need to be replaced.

This person spent a lot of time applying the paste when they could have gone into an auto repair shop and had it fixed legitimately after about an hour or hour and a half of work. 

We see problems on a lot of used cars that people are planning to buy or just purchased. This is one of the reasons why you want someone to take a look at a vehicle you’re buying or a used one that you acquired. By getting it inspected, you can catch things like this. 

What we check during the state inspection

The exhaust system is one of the areas we check during a state inspection. Safety is our main concern, so we make sure there aren’t any problems. 

Audible exhaust leaks are among the issues we keep an eye (or an ear) out for. Sometimes you can see exhaust leaks. If a crack is starting to develop, you might not necessarily hear it – especially when you’re in the car – but you can see the residue on the pipes or the joints as you’re looking at it from underneath.

Our inspectors look over various parts and ensure that they are secure, as well. This extends from the exhaust manifolds coming off the engine to the catalytic converter (or converters – depending on the vehicle there could be anywhere between one and five). Other parts checked include the or O2 sensors, the flex pipes, the muffler, tailpipes, and any joint where it bolts together – whether it’s with a gasket or not.

You can read about other things we look for when inspecting the exhaust system in this article we wrote.

Steve’s Auto Repair performs state inspections and emission tests. Our Woodbridge mechanics also perform digital vehicle inspections as part of our oil change process.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.