Rusting Exhaust System

tom205tom205 Member Posts: 2
edited March 2014 in Honda
I'm original owner of a '91 Civic Sedan. Very nice car with one chronic problem however. Since the car was approx. 4-5 yrs. old, it started getting rusting mufflers/tailpipes. About every two years, I need to replace either the muffler or tailpipe or both, due to rust through. One muffler shop told me "Hondas are like that". He said that Honda exhaust systems lay very flat and that the water vapor from fuel combustion tends to collect in the system. Any others experiencing this? BTW, I live in the Wash, D.C. area, so we don't have harsh winters/lots of road salt present. Also, I'm a native and I've never had this problem with other vehicles.


  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    Before the advent of stainless steel as rather standard in car/truck exhaust systems, rust and corrosion had many a person under the vehicle or at the muffler shop with frequency. I just suspect you have been replacing with non stainless parts. If you correct this next time, you may get some decent results.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,785
    ...last time I had any exhaust work done was back in '93. I had a new dual exhaust put on a '68 Dart, cost a little over $300. It's almost 10 years old now, with no rust-out. I did have to have a section replaced on the passenger side, right off the manifold though, when I pulled a stupid stunt. I jumped the car at a railroad crossing, and put it a few feet in the air. High enough, at least that when it hit the ground it bounced hard enough to completely leave the ground again! Well, needless to say, my engine mounts were "marginal" to begin with, but that killed the one on the pass-side. The engine dropped down, and the steering snagged the exhaust pipe and ripped it loose from the manifold.

    My grandma's '85 LeSabre, bought new, needed a few hundred bucks worth of exhaust work in '96, and just before I got rid of it a few months ago, it developed a hole in the bottom of the catalytic converter.

    BTW, I'm in the DC/Maryland area too. 4-5 years for the original parts to rust out does seem a bit excessive to me, unless somehow a lot of moisture is just getting to it. Having to keep replacing that stuff every 2 years though, sounds like it's just getting replaced with cheap parts that wear out once the warranty's up.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    that's how long my tailpipes lasted! so, Hondas are built to the standards of the 64 dodge? where do I get one, I'm outta here... ;)

    seriously, the exhaust system will rust, and stainless steel parts are not proof to it. 5 years is a good run.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,785
    ...had the "advantage" of running on leaded gasoline, and leaded gas will cause faster rust-out in the exhaust system (I forget the exact reason why, but it does)

    I wonder if, like sheetmetal, glass, etc, exhaust pipes were thicker back then, too?
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Member Posts: 1,565
    Was that a stainless steel exhaust system? If not, I could see how it would only last 4-5 years, and the aftermarket carbon steel ones less than that.

    My experiences with SS systems on Caravans and Tauri have been that I have never had to replace them. '85 Caravan-12 years and sold it with original system. '90 Taurus, 10 years and sold it with original system. Current vehicles, '96 Caravan, original and still counting and 2000 Taurus original but too new to determine it's life but it is a SS system. These cars are in a severe climate as well where condensation is possible for almost half the year.

    Aftermarket non stainless systems used to last only about 3 years max, but it has been a long time since I have even had to think about exhaust system replacement.

    On the other hand, a co-worker had to replace his exhaust after only 3-4 years recently on a Civic. He was told it by the service shop that it happens a lot to Honda Civics-is this a weak spot for Civics?
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,785 seemed everybody was switching to stainless steel. I believe it doubles the price. At least from what I've seen in parts catalogs for antique cars...I priced a dual exhaust for my '57 DeSoto, and a regular was something like $350 while stainless was around $700, I believe.

    In more recent years though, I think to cut costs a lot of makers went back to regular steel. I had an '88 LeBaron turbo that my uncle bought in '90, and then sold to my wife and I in '95. It was dead by '97, but never needed any exhaust work! I'm pretty sure it was stainless. I don't know what they used for my '89 Gran Fury, but it never gave me any exhaust problems in the time I had it (from 1998 to now).
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I agree, 5 years is okay lifespan...also, if you are buying your mufflers at a certain...ahem...well known muffler chain, you are buying junk quality unless you specify otherwise, so as they say, you get what you pay for.

    Also, if you are a "short-hopper", driving to work and back just a few miles, this might contribute, as might your climate.

    So, driving habits + climate + quality of parts will give a very wide range of endurance to exhaust system parts.
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Member Posts: 872
    Are you getting aluminized muffler and pipes? Plain steel pipes will rot out in 2 years in the Detroit Metro area. We probably have a lot more road salt exposure than you do. Here aluminized pipes and mufflers last about 5 to 7 years. Ask or call around to find a shop that uses aluminized parts.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    If you are doing a lot of short trips the moisture will never burn out of the system. Water will sit in the muffler and rust it out.

    And, our host is correct. The "well known" muffler chain uses cheap mufflers. They give you a "lifetime" warranty. The warranty is a good thing for them. They know most people won't keep the car long enough to cash in on the warranty.

    For those who do, these guys are very good at finding other exhaust components that they will reccomend replacing along with your "free" muffler., Hondas do not have a problem that I've ever heard of as far as premature muffler replacement.

    My dad once wondered how a recently replaced muffler on his old Buick failed so quickly.

    " Gee, Dad, I was just driving down the road when I heard a loud noise"

    I didn't lie to my Dad...I DID hear a loud noise!

    I just didn't tell him I had turned the ignition off for a half block before switching it back on!

    Andre...try this sometime with one of your non-fuel injected cars and let us know what happens!
  • tom205tom205 Member Posts: 2
    First of all, I'm sure the car had a stainless steel exhaust system when it was new. And yes, I've been going to two different "well known" muffler shops for the exhaust work. They both begin with an "M"... I don't ask for the cheap stuff and I've never been offered the more expensive stuff. I'm not a "short-hopper" either...this stuff is just junk! And, as far as that warranty goes, it's a joke! Sure, they'll replace it for free(it's worth $25 - $30). However, it's NEVER just the muffler which needs replacing. By the time you get the "free" muffler along with a tailpipe(or two) plus clamps/other parts along with the labor, you're looking at a bill ranging from $125 to $200! Again, thanks to everyone for the advise!
  • zueslewiszueslewis Member Posts: 2,353
    original equipment, just for info.

    andre - I've done the "turn off the key, pump the gas, restart it" trick for the loud backfire noise. I've blown out 3 mufflers doing that!
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,785 my '79 New Yorker. Its exhaust system is completely loose right behind the catalytic converter (although occasionally it'll jiggle back into place and sound a little less truck-like). I'm thinking about going to a dual exhaust anyway when I get the money, so it's current exhaust is expendable anyway!

    Back before I knew better, every once in awhile I'd turn the car off and let it drift, and then turn it back on, with no trouble. I didn't pump the gas though. I did that with my '80 Malibu and my '69 Dart GT a few times, but thankfully, I guess, outgrew it!

    What happens if you try the trick with a fuel-injected car?

    As for replacement exhaust systems, when I did my '68 Dart's dual exhaust, I went to a local store called Maryland Muffler. They do custom work and bend their own pipes. Maybe that's one reason it's lasted almost 10 years...I went to a reputable shop in the first place!
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Member Posts: 1,565
    With the muffler shops, you have just discovered why they offer those "lifetime muffler" guarantee. The muffler may have a lifetime warranty, but the pipes go quick. The actual cost to them of replacing a muffler that fails is little, but then they get to sell you a new set of pipes every 2-3 years. I'm glad we have stainless systems in both our cars. I haven't had to get an exhaust replaced since about 1987 when my 1983 Chevy (POS) Celebrity first lost it's non stainless system. I could only wish that exhaust systems were the only weak spot in that car!
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,785 needed a new muffler to pass inspection. My uncle got one for me for something like $19.95, and we put it on ourselves. I didn't drive that car long enough to see how long it would last, as it got totaled about 2 1/2 years, and 27,000 miles later. I kept the car around for parts, and ultimately gave it to the junkyard about 2 1/2 years after that. I remember looking under the car at the exhaust system, just out of curiosity, just before the junkyard picked it up, and the muffler was pretty rusty. The car also sat on the grass in various locations in the yard (including the woods) for 2 1/2 years, though, so I'm sure it would've rusted regardless of how good it was!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    With fuel injected cars, the fuel is cut off when the ignition is switched off.

    With the older cars, the fuel pump would keep pumping as long as the car was in gear. The exhaust system would fill up with raw gas and fumes. Turning the ignition back on would create the explosion.

    For some reason cars with dual exhaust wouldn't backfire. Also, it's not really necessary to pump the gas. Some cars do this MUCH better than others. It'll make an M-80 sound like someone snapping their fingers!

    Army Jeeps were especially loud...:)
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,785
    ...maybe that's why I never had the backfire, because I'd always put my Dart or Malibu into neutral when I killed the ignition and let 'em coast. I might give it a try when the weather warms up. Right now the NYer has a new battery, but that battery is in my grandmother's basement! It's been too damn cold out to be fooling around with anything outside!
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    sounds like a dandy potato cannon we're dealing with here... but you'd probably split all the seams in the exhaust system, rather than spit the potato chunk a block. I saw a link last night where the germans are fighting an epidemic of kids with potato cannons blowing windows out and putting folks in the hospital, so it immediately came to mind.

    in college, we just used beer can cannons and tennis balls to knock on doors ;) assembly instructions will NOT be provided here.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Member Posts: 2,353
  • tbonertboner Member Posts: 402
    I think they too have a million mile warranty. I'm sure Borla makes something for a Honda. Heck, they even make one for my SVT Contour

    Stolen from the webpage "BORLA doesn’t stop with unsurpassed technology. We engineer and manufacture all our exhaust products in the USA of aircraft-quality T-304 stainless steel and back our street exhaust with a Million-Mile Warranty."

    See it at:

    Not affiliated with Borla, just a happy customer
  • anonymouspostsanonymousposts Member Posts: 4,202
    We put an above average number of miles on our cars, live in the south, and usually travel at speeds of 60 or higher and have not had a problem with a Honda exhaust system.
  • anselmo1anselmo1 Member Posts: 163
    I have a stainless steel catback exhaust on my Honda Accord. It was made by DC Sports. Here is there website:
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