Dealing with an exhaust leak

I’m pretty new to the whole car repair thing. I’ve had my vehicle for several years and the maintainence I’ve had to do so far has been pretty straight-forward. I had my parents on hand initially for any advice I needed, plus I was around my home town. However, I’ve been off at Grad school for a couple of years now and I’m not quite sure what to do in my current situation.

Anyway on to the main topic. I have a 99 Saturn SL2 that according to the dealer had a hairline crack in the ‘exhaust resonator pipe’ when I last took it in about a month ago when I was visiting family. They said it wasn’t a major issue and I could probably let it go for a while, so I did. (Plus I didn’t really want to pay the quoted $202 to fix it.)

According to my understanding of exhaust systems the problem is in the pipe leading from the catalytic converter to the resonator (Although, I suppose it could be between the resonator and the muffler).

However, I’ve noticed my car’s been getting noisier (especially when accelerating). Plus, one morning a week or so ago I had it running for a bit and I noticed exhaust coming from underneath the car (around the mid-point) in addition to what was coming from the rear exhaust.

It seems the problem has gotten to the point that it needs to be dealt with soon, however, I’m not sure who I should take it to. Would a muffler place be better, a mechanic, or the local GM dealer? I’ve been told that I’d probably get a lower price at the nearby Mufflerman but I’m unfamiliar with the place. I know the dealer should at least know what they’re doing.

Any thoughts or relevant knowledge on my situation?

There’s an exhaust leak somewhere. And on a ten year old car, that should be expected.

Most muffler shops will do a free exhaust inspection. And once it’s discovered what part of the exhaust system is actually leaking, there’s no telling how much it’s going to cost to fix.


You need to find an independent mechanic to help you take care of your Saturn.

Dealers are very expensive, and chain stores (Mufflerman? Is there really such a place?) are a nightmare waiting to happen. Avoid them like the plague.

Exhaust system problems are not usually very complicated. You need a new piece of exhaust pipe. Any decent mechanic can take care of this, but you don’t need to pay the premium price at the Saturn dealer.

Get this fixed ASAP. Exhaust leaks are not a good thing. You don’t want exhaust fumes getting into the car. Exhaust fumes can kill you.

I don’t want to be alarmist, but it’s true. Exhaust leaks are not something to ignore.

I suggest you get the problem re-evaluated by a second source. I don’t want to preach but be skeptical of all, but something does need fixing, this is a safety/health issue. Use your life skills to judge what is being told you. With eahaust work sometimes individual parts of the system are hard to come by and some creativity needs to be used, the Dealer is not good at being creative.

On another not wanting to preach issue, get it out of your mind that the Dealer knows what they are doing. Be skeptical of all. You are doing good by posting your situation to CT, it shows you have the intelligence to seek out more info before you act. If someone on this Forum does give you a poor direction to take it will be dealt with as we are self policing.

It seems the consensus is that I should avoid taking it to a dealer. That leaves me split on trying to take it to a muffler place (there are 2 or 3 in the area) or trying to find a good mechanic (I know nothing about the ones around here.) I’ve looked to see what mechanics are in the area (45701) in the Car Talk database, but there aren’t many listed and information is sparse with regards to the reviews.

Any suggestions about how I should go about this?

For this problem, I’d go to an independent muffler shop.

The difference generally is that the muffler shop will have the ability to fabricate an exhaust pipe in the right shape and length, whereas a mechanic will have to actually order it in from a parts house (or subcontract it to a muffler shop). The muffler shop would also be more likely to be able to repair what you’ve got on there.

Any friends, relatives, business people, or anyone else you might ask for a reference?

It’s a moot point Texases, but your sentence is not a question, but a statement.

Let me add: don’t be afraid to approach customers at these places for their input about where they get their vehicles fixed too.