Why Does My Exhaust Rattle?

Written by michael straessle
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Why Does My Exhaust Rattle?
Auto exhaust systems rattle for many reasons. (exhaust pipe image by A74.FR Ben Fontaine from Fotolia.com)

Exhaust systems have many places where weakness can occur over time. Most exhaust systems take between five and seven years before deterioration begins to cause problems. Have the exhaust system checked at the first sign of noise to prevent costly repairs.


Rust accumulates in different places within an exhaust system for several reasons. Short trips leave condensation that settles inside the muffler, and because it doesn't have time to get hot enough to evaporate it, rust begins to form.

Doughnut Gasket

Doughnut gaskets allow for movement at the end of the exhaust pipe where it connects to the manifold on the engine. Over time, it wears down, causing the movement to increase that results in a rattling sound.

Heat Shields

Car manufacturers weld heat shields in key areas on the exhaust system to prevent heat transfer to the floor of the vehicle. Spot welds that come loose cause the shield to rattle or vibrate. Insert a pry bar between the shield and the exhaust system and gently press against the shield. If it moves, new welds can fix the problem.

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