Exhaust manifold leaks are dangerous to vehicle occupants and engines alike. This problem is more common on some engines than others, but should be addressed as soon as possible no matter what the application.
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Exhaust manifold leaks can be identified by their noisy and constant rattle or popping. This is easily distinguished from leaks further down in the system, which only cause an increase in overall noise volume.
Exhaust manifold leaks will usually get worse over time. This is especially true of manifold-to-head gasket leaks, which can cause the gasket blow out completely.
Exhaust manifold leaks will usually get worse as an engine heats and the metal components begin to expand away from each other.
Extra fuel injected by the control computer (a result of false oxygen sensor readings) can cause catalytic converter temperature to rise dramatically. Not only can this increase in temperature destroy the catalytic converter, it may become hot enough to flash-ignite surrounding combustibles.
The major danger of a leaking manifold is that it may allow dangerous exhaust fumes to leak into the passenger compartment. These gases include carbon monoxide, which can cause unconsciousness and death if allowed to build up.
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