As the owner of a Corvette, you get the pleasure of driving one of the best high-performance machines on the road. At the same time, that means having to care for your Corvette to make sure it is always running at peak performance levels. A key part of caring for your Corvette is keeping its exhaust system in good working order, as an exhaust system that isn't working correctly won't let your engine breathe as it needs to.
Parts of a Corvette Exhaust System A Corvette's exhaust system starts at the engine, where the exhaust fumes that have to be carried away are produced. Two exhaust manifolds, bolted to the left and right side of the engine and sealed with rubber manifold gaskets, funnel the exhaust produced by each engine cylinder into two collection pipe, which are then connected to the rest of the exhaust.
Next in line is a pair of catalytic converters, which are connected to the collection pipes on the manifolds. A catalytic converter neutralizes some of the more harmful compounds in the exhaust, making it safer to release into the air at the end of the exhaust system. A pair of exhaust pipes running off of the catalytic converters carry the exhaust back to another pair of pipes which run into two mufflers, one on each side of the vehicle. After passing through the mufflers, the exhaust is finally passed to the distinctive four exhaust pipes that are featured prominently on the rear end of a Chevy Corvette.
What Causes Exhaust Parts to Wear Out? Exhaust parts, being simple metal pipes without moving parts, have a long lifespan, but they will wear out over time just like any other car part. One of the most major causes of damage to exhaust systems over time is rust. Here in Claysburg, Pennsylvania, for example, we get about 35 inches of snow a year, considerably more than the national average. All of this snow means lots of salt spread on the roads to make them safe to drive on. That salt, especially on a vehicle that rides as low as a Corvette, can easily be thrown up onto the exhaust system. Over time, this can slowly cause rust damage to the exhaust manifolds, which aren't always made of rust-resistant aluminum.
Direct physical damage can also be a factor in exhaust wear and tear. If the roads in your area are badly damaged or severely uneven, your car's underside can sometimes be hit by loose pieces of asphalt or even hit the road itself if it goes up or down a slope in just the wrong way. In some instances, especially with a low-sitting car, this can do substantial damage to exhaust components.
Finally, more active exhaust parts wear out as time passes. Catalytic converters, after a certain point, lose their ability to neutralize the fumes coming from your engine. Mufflers will also wear out as a result of long-term vibration damage. If you keep your Corvette long enough, both of these parts will need to be replaced.
How Can You Extend the Life of Your Exhaust? Your exhaust system, luckily, is one of the parts systems you do actually have some control over in terms of wear. One of the best things you can do to improve its longevity is to replace your exhaust manifold if it is made of iron. Iron manifolds will rust over time. Aluminum ones will be effectively unharmed by rust, and coated iron manifolds will still rust, but at a much slower rate. If your manifold is already made from one of these two materials, you're in good shape.
Another way to extend the life of your exhaust system is to avoid driving your Corvette in the wintertime. If you live in a place like Claysburg, Pennsylvania, where salt, snow and slush are common, you can keep your car in better overall shape by keeping it in your garage over the winter. Many Corvette owners in northern areas already own a second car for winter driving for this exact reason.
Knowing When to Replace Exhaust Parts Generally, the signs that parts of your exhaust system need replacing will be very obvious. If your car is running loudly, it likely means your muffler needs replaced. In some cases, this can also indicate an exhaust manifold that has rusted through, though that is less common. If you smell something like rotten eggs in your exhaust, it's a sure sign that your catalytic converter has reached the end of its useful life.
Replacing Corvette Exhaust Parts Although many people decide to have a mechanic replace their exhaust parts, it isn't too difficult for someone who is relatively handy. The most difficult part, in general, is disconnecting the part you need to replace from the rest of the exhaust system and giving yourself room to work, which is the first step in any exhaust replacement job.
Once you've disconnected the part you plan to replace, you can remove it and position the new part in its former place. At this stage, a small jack stand or other platform can come in handy to help hold the part in place while you reconnect it to the rest of your exhaust. Of course, if you replace your entire exhaust system at once, this is less of a problem, as you can simply work from the manifolds back.
When replacing your manifolds, it's critical to get new gaskets as well. The old rubber gasket that seals the connection between the engine and the manifold won't be reusable, so be sure to buy the new gasket at the same time.
Conclusion Though they do have long lives, Corvette exhaust parts will wear out over time. If allowed to deteriorate too much, a bad exhaust system can make your car uncomfortably loud and decrease its performance by failing to remove exhaust efficiently. If you need replacement exhaust parts for your Chevy Corvette, look no further than GMPartsGuys.com. With our huge selection of OEM parts for GM cars of all kinds, including the Corvette, we're sure to have whatever you need to keep your favorite car running smoothly for years to come.