How to Repair an Exhaust System Leak

Written by william mccoy
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How to Repair an Exhaust System Leak
A minor exhaust system leak can be fixed with a few tools. (exhaust pipe image by A74.FR Ben Fontaine from

While some car problems may go undiagnosed for a long period, it's likely you'll notice an exhaust leak soon after it happens. If your car's exhaust system is leaking, it will noticeably create more clouds of exhaust, noise and smell while idling in your driveway. Minor leaks may close up once the exhaust system warms up and expands, so inspect your car when it is cool to see if the exhaust system is leaking.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Jack
  • Jack stands
  • Wheel chocks
  • Hacksaw
  • Measuring tape
  • 19-mm-thick aluminium sheet metal
  • Tin snips
  • Steel pipe
  • Exhaust clamps
  • Muffler tape

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  1. 1

    Jack the back end of the vehicle up off the ground, and place jack stands under the vehicle's frame for support. Place wheel chocks against the front tires.

  2. 2

    Inspect the exhaust pipe for cracks or punctures. If you find one, ensure it is the only one.

  3. 3

    Cut through the exhaust pipe with a hacksaw, roughly an inch on either side of the leak to remove a section of the pipe. Ensure your cuts are perpendicular to the pipe to make inserting the replacement pipe easier.

  4. 4

    Snip an appropriately sized piece of aluminium sheet metal with tin snips. You'll use this to bend into a replacement pipe that will be slightly longer than the opening you cut with the hacksaw.

  5. 5

    Wrap the sheet metal around the steel pipe to form a pipe-shaped tube. Ensure the new pipe, called the inner sleeve, is small enough to fit snugly inside the two ends of the original exhaust pipe.

  6. 6

    Fit one end of the inner sleeve into the original exhaust pipe, and then push the other end of the inner sleeve into the other end of the exhaust pipe.

  7. 7

    Create another new pipe with the tin snips, aluminium sheet metal and rolling device. This time, make the new pipe slightly larger than the vehicle's exhaust pipe, as it will serve as the outer sleeve.

  8. 8

    Place the outer sleeve over the inner sleeve, and secure it an inch from either end to the vehicle's exhaust pipe with exhaust clamps.

  9. 9

    Wrap several layers of muffler tape around both ends of the outer sleeve, between the exhaust clamps and the vehicle's exhaust pipe. The tape will ensure no exhaust is able to leak out, as well as eliminate any vibration noises associated with your work.

  10. 10

    Remove the wheel chocks and jack stand, then lower the vehicle back to the ground.

Tips and warnings

  • Car repair shops can run exhaust system checks for you to determine if you've got a leak, and where it is located. After they diagnose the problem, you can fix it yourself if it's minor enough.
  • If you don't have a steel pipe, you can roll the aluminium sheet metal with a broom handle or other long, cylindrical object.
  • Do not work on a vehicle's exhaust system until it is completely cool.

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