Exhaust Repair 101: How to Fix it Yourself

An in-depth guide to DIY exhaust pipe repair. Exhaust Repair 101: How to Fix it Yourself drivrzone.com

Who hates the loud noise that comes from under your vehicle when you puncture your exhaust?  It is loud and annoying and illegal.  We have all heard of people using duct tape to fix the problem temporarily, and others just waiting until it is too late.  It can be an expensive fix, but the sooner you do it, the better.  In this blog, we will give you directions on how to do an exhaust pipe repair at home instead of taking it to the shop.

Exhaust System 101

The exhaust system on your vehicle is supposed to remove the gasses from the combustion in your engine.  This system runs under the vehicle from the front to the back.  It will have a catalytic converter that will clean up the gas and other parts.  There are five different types of exhaust systems out there right now, and maybe more in the future, but for now, we will give you the more common types available.

Single Exit Pipe

The most common type that you will find at a dealership when you buy a car is the only exit.  As labeled, it has one pipe that runs from the engine to the back of the vehicle.  These are the easiest and cheapest to build, install, and fix.

Dual Rear Exit

On the sportier end of the market are the dual exhaust systems.  Well, for those that want them to look prettier and sound sportier is what is the intent behind these.  What this does is give the engine the sound of a more powerful one. Instead of one straight pipe, it is two pipes that are located on opposite sides of the vehicle and noticeable under the back bumper and also do not bend around the wheels.

Opposite Dual Exhaust

Here the pipes are going to wrap around the wheel using a bend to add to the filtering process.  This is a variant on the dual rear exit exhaust but can be more efficient under certain circumstances.  These will be found on more of the vehicles that are designed to be towing large loads, such as trailers or boats since they won’t leave a residue on the load they are hauling.

Dual Side Exhaust

This is pretty much what it means it will have two exhaust pipes next to each other on one side of the vehicle.  These pipes are usually smaller than a single exhaust, so the noise it makes is a little deeper.  They do offer some enhancement in performance and will look and sound like those systems.

High-Performance Exhaust

These are more expensive and do a more efficient job of filtering out the gases in the system.  These are considered an aftermarket product and in most cases, are not something that comes standard on a vehicle off the lost.  Depending on the type of vehicle, they can make the car more efficient in performance.  Since this system is aftermarket, it is quite costly since they will have to change out the exhaust manifold as well because it is a wider pipe.

How to Do an Exhaust Pipe Repair Yourself

Cracks, scrapes, holes, and rust can all cause the exhaust piping to break. These things all can develop over time and accelerate depending on where you live.  In some cases, this repair will require taking your car to the mechanic; in other cases, you may be able to do it yourself. Keep reading to find out how to perform an exhaust pipe repair on your vehicle.

Visual Inspection

First, you need to inspect the damage and assess whether it is something you can do at home.

Cracks and holes will have several repair options, and there are exhaust repair kits at most auto parts stores.

Replacing a section of pipe, you may be able to do this at home if you have the right tools, other times, this repair will have to be done at the mechanic.

Raise the Vehicle

Use a floor jack to raise the driver’s side of the vehicle.  Use floor jacks on a flat surface to raise the car; this will give you enough room to move under your vehicle.  Don’t forget to use the safety jack stands to make sure that the car is stable and secure.  If your exhaust is off-center, then raise the passenger side instead.

Locate the Leak

Put on safety glasses since your going under the vehicle. You never know what may drop down into your eyes.  Slide under the car and look around your exhaust system with a flashlight.

Since the pipe facing the ground receives the most exposure to flying debris and the elements, this is usually where the damage will be.  If you are unable to find some damage, you will want to start the vehicle and listen for the leak.

Once you locate the problem, then you need to decide if it something that you can do at home or take it to the mechanic.  Let’s talk about repairing a leak first.

Repairing a Leak

Once you find the leak, it is now time to prep the area for fixing.  Use a steel-toothed brush to scrub around the hole.  You need to remove all the dirt, grime, and rust from the pipe and the hole.  Wearing safety glasses and work gloves are recommended so that you don’t get any in your eyes or any dangerous liquids on your hands. Clean the surface at least an inch past the hole on all sides to give you room for good contact.

Next, you will use a piece of sandpaper to smooth the surface and remove any last bits of debris that may be stuck to the pipe to apply the patch easier.  Also, if you want it to be extra clean and make sure that nothing with interfering with the tape or epoxy, you can use acetone to clean the metal all the way around.  This is an excellent way to fix an exhaust pipe without welding


If you are using tape to repair the leak, you will wrap the repair tape around the spot as well as past the hole to make sure that you cover the most area.  Some of the tapes out there require the pipes to be warm, so therefore you may have to run the car a little bit before applying.


If using epoxy to seal the leak, mix the material using a wooden dowel.  Apply it directly to the leak once it is mixed thoroughly, dabbing it onto the leak and then spreading it around the area. You want to cake it on to make a thick film in the whole area.  Make sure you read the curing rate on the package to know how long it will take for the area to dry.  Most people will use exhaust repair tape to wrap the leak and epoxy once it is done to ensure the best coverage.

You can use steel wool or putty as well and if you like it as well.  Some will even take a soda can and cut it the length of the hole and wrap it around the tape to help hold it in place even more securely.  You can attach the can around the pipe with clamps on each end of the can.

Once you decide on how or what kit you are going to use and have installed it, let your vehicle run and idle for a few minutes to heat the tape for the adhesive to activate and adhere to the exhaust pipe.

Now each repair will need to be creative depending on how big the crack or hole is, as well as the materials you use.

Replacing a Section of Pipe

Now in most cases, this will need to be done at a workshop, but if you have the necessary tools at home, you can do this yourself.  The car exhaust pipe will be a specific size that if you have a standard vehicle off the lot, you should be able to get the right size pipe to replace it at the auto store.  Here are some steps to do the pipe repair.

  1. Remove any screws from the exhaust system.
  2. Use a hacksaw, pipe cutter, or tubing cutter to cut the piece of pipe you need to replace.  Make sure that whatever tool you decide to use, you have the proper safety gear on.
  3. At this point, you might need a pipe extension to join the ends together.  Make sure you get the appropriate size.
  4. Flare out the ends of the pipe you need to join so they are round and uniform.
  5. Now measure how much of the pipe extension you will need to get to the other end of the pipe and make sure you have some overlap.
  6. Cut the pipe extension
  7. Put one end of the pipe into place and find something to hold it there, like a jack.
  8. Widen the ends to make sure it fits over the existing pipe left so that it slides over the other piece.
  9. Secure the pipe extension with exhaust clamps, however, do not over tighten them or you will end up having more repairs.

Exhaust Repair Finished

Once this is all done, the car should be quiet and running smoothly.  Turn the vehicle on and let it run for a while, listening for any noises, clanking around, looking for white exhaust coming out other than the back end.  If you cannot complete the task, or you find it is still leaking, it would be best to take it to the mechanic to complete the job.  Some states and some cities have specific emission testing that needs to be done that you pay for if not in compliance.

Doing your own repairs can save you a lot of money in the long run, and mainly that will be in the labor that the mechanic will charge you.  When you take your vehicle in, the main cost is always the time it takes them to fix something, not necessarily the parts.  When doing this on your own, you also learn more about your vehicle and how it works.  Take a moment to at least look and see if you can do this on your own using the steps above.  Take your time, and you will accomplish what you set out to do.