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How to Remove Car Exhaust

Updated April 17, 2017

Your car exhaust may need replacement for increased engine performance or safety concerns. The specific make and model of your vehicle will determine your specific exhaust system design, though each car exhaust system does includes the same general components, including the exhaust manifold or headers, front piping, catalytic converter, resonator, muffler and tailpipe. Corrosion, age, punctures or dents can reduce system efficiency, in turn reducing engine power or fuel efficiency and increasing safety concerns due to carbon monoxide fumes leaking into the atmosphere or vehicle cabin. Removing and replacing exhaust components is a straightforward process.

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  1. Lift the car high enough off the ground where you will be able to detach exhaust components easily. Use a hydraulic lift or tire jack and jack stands. Before sliding underneath the vehicle verify it is secure.

  2. Unbolt the muffler assembly from the pipe leading into the catalytic converter or resonator using the socket and wrench set. A bolt flange will mate the muffler assembly into the next component. Your vehicle may have a resonator, which reduces noise in between the muffler and catalytic converter.

  3. Locate the exhaust hanger locations holding the muffler assembly in place. Locate any other bolts holding the muffler assembly into the tailpipe or piping and remove.

  4. Remove the muffler assembly and place it off to the side along with the corresponding fasteners, hangers and hardware.

  5. Unbolt the chassis brace holding the pipe following the muffler assembly bolt flange, if applicable.

  6. Remove any bolts mating the resonator piping and catalytic converter together. If there is not a resonator, unbolt the nuts mating the catalytic converter into the front pipe.

  7. Unhook the separated exhaust piping from the corresponding exhaust hangers in systematic order from the rear towards the engine. Identify any hangers or flange bolts which may have been missed that are holding the components in place. Place the removed components off to the side with corresponding hardware.

  8. Unbolt the front pipe from the bottom of the exhaust manifold flange if installing a full exhaust system. The front pipe leads up towards the engine bay. Remove the front pipe.

  9. Open the bonnet and find the exhaust manifold. Bolts connect the exhaust manifold into the cylinder ports. Only remove this component when compromised or when replacing with a full system that includes new headers.

  10. Unbolt the exhaust manifold from the engine block and remove. Be mindful of the gasket between the engine ports and the exhaust manifold.

  11. Verify every component of the car exhaust has been removed.

  12. Tip

    Work from the rear of the vehicle towards the front when removing exhaust components. Use protective glasses when underneath the car to minimise debris from falling into your eyes. Take pictures of the original exhaust layout and refer to these pictures during the reinstall process when needed. Rusted bolts or piping that will not come off may require cutting. Only cut if you have replacement components available.


    Do not remove an exhaust system until the vehicle is cold. Exhaust piping becomes very hot during use and will burn you.

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Things You'll Need

  • Socket set
  • Wrench Set
  • Saw with blade made to cut metal
  • Gloves
  • Protective glasses
  • Vehicle lift or jack stands

About the Author

Sean Russell

Sean Russell has been a freelance writer since 2007, with experience featuring retailer product on blogs, creating press releases, SEO and publishing to the writing style of hundreds of websites. He graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing and business, and achieved a California Real Estate license. He also enjoys motorcycling.

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