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Exhaust System Quiz: Are You Just Blowing Smoke?

A car's tailpipe. Can you name these exhaust system components?

All combustion engines produce dangerous exhaust gasses as a result of burning fuel at high temperatures. So, when manufacturers design an exhaust system, the two important goals are to route fumes away from the passenger compartment and convert as many toxins as possible into less dangerous chemicals released into the environment. With a bit of ingenuity, it’s possible to use the exhaust for better performance and mileage. How much do you know about the inner workings, components and benefits of your exhaust? Let’s find out.Exhaust System Quiz: Are You Just Blowing Smoke?

1. The exhaust system as a whole has multiple functions, but the primary purpose of a muffler is to reduce ______.

  1. Harmful emissions

  2. Noise

  3. Backpressure

2. The catalytic converter uses ______ to reduce toxic gasses in the exhaust system.

  1. Chemical reactions

  2. Bicarbonate filters

  3. Hydraulic pressure

3. Oxygen sensors play a major role in the exhaust functioning, but they don’t last forever. A faulty oxygen sensor may:

  1. Trigger a check engine light

  2. Affect gas mileage

  3. Both

4. The exhaust manifold is located between the ______ and the ______.

  1. Engine block, exhaust pipe

  2. Exhaust pipe, muffler

  3. Catalytic converter, tailpipe

5. There are a few clues that your catalytic converter might be in need of replacement. One is that a bad catalytic converter may begin to smell like:

  1. Maple syrup

  2. Rotten eggs

  3. Fish

6. The smoke coming out of your tailpipe can be a diagnostic tool. Blue smoke out of the exhaust indicates the engine is burning:

  1. Coolant

  2. Too much fuel

  3. Oil

7. Exhaust gasses can be more than just combustion waste. On some engines, a(n) _____ may take and use exhaust gasses to improve performance.

  1. MAF sensor

  2. Exhaust idler valve

  3. Turbocharger

8. An engine that is “running rich” may produce:

  1. Black smoke

  2. White smoke

  3. Blue smoke

9. The combustion process creates toxic gasses that are bad for people and the environment. Harmful emissions include:

  1. Carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides

  2. Nitrogen and carbon dioxide

  3. Monosodium glutamate and sulfides

10. A blocked exhaust system may cause:

  1. Limited braking abilities

  2. Overheating

  3. Premature tire wear

Answer key: 1b, 2a, 3c, 4a, 5b, 6c, 7c, 8a, 9a, 10b

How’d you do? The exhaust system is an important part of the combustion process with components that drivers should understand and even change from time to time. If this quiz raised any questions for you, search around the NAPA Know How blog for more detailed information.

Check out all the exterior products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on the exhaust system, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photos courtesy of Blair Lampe.


Blair Lampe View All

Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter.  In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.

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