If you're like most car owners, you probably don't think about your car's exhaust system until there's a problem. And by then, it might be too late. Exhaust system issues can have serious effects –– from decreased fuel efficiency and poor performance to environmental damage. A faulty exhaust system can also be dangerous for you and your passengers.

Discover two most common signs that your car's exhaust system is failing and what you can do about it.

Rattling Noises

Strange rattling noises could be a sign that the car's muffler is loose or damaged. The muffler's job is to reduce noise from the engine. A loose or damaged muffler can allow exhaust fumes and noise to escape, which is not only annoying but can also be quite dangerous. The exhaust fumes can be toxic if you inhale them since they contain dangerous carbon monoxide gas.

Therefore, you need to have your car's muffler repaired or replaced as soon as possible. Failure to do so can result in other issues like decreased fuel efficiency and serious car damage that you'll discover when it's already too late.

In some cases, the rattling noise can indicate problems with the catalytic converter. This device helps reduce harmful emissions from your car. It is located between the muffler and the manifold within your exhaust system. So if your car makes loud rattling noises, the catalytic converter might be loose or displaced. If so, the device cannot effectively reduce emissions and will need specialized repairs.

Make sure to see an exhaust system specialist as soon as possible before you have to deal with more severe consequences.

Leaking Exhaust Fluid

If you notice liquid dripping from your car's exhaust system, don't ignore it. Leaks in the exhaust system mean that carbon monoxide and other harmful gases can easily escape into the inside of your car. This air contamination can be dangerous for you and your passengers.

The most common cause for exhaust system leaks is a cracked manifold. The manifold collects and directs the gases from the engine cylinders into the exhaust system. A crack in the manifold can allow these gases to escape, which opens you up to serious health risks. Condensation inside the exhaust system will seep through the crack and leak out as a liquid.  

A hole in the muffler is another likely cause of exhaust leaks. A hole in the muffler can allow gases to escape and make your car's engine louder. If your car's engine feels noisier than usual, and you also see leaking exhaust fluid, the muffler probably has a hole in it.

Make sure you visit your exhaust system specialist before it's too late. They will either perform specialized repairs or suggest a replacement of the damaged components to reduce the noise and prevent further damage. 

For more information about these and other exhaust system repairs, contact a local auto repair professional.