Introduction: How to Fix Your Car Exhaust, Without Welding or Power Tools.

Picture of How to Fix Your Car Exhaust, Without Welding or Power Tools.

The old clunker's exhaust was blowing a bit, so I sealed it.

Then it fell off. It had rusted right through between the catalytic converter and the silencer.

"You know what you're going to have to do, don't you?", said Kitewife.

"Fix it?"

"No, write an Instructable!"

[Some of my more recent projects are now here.]

Step 1: Materials and Tools.

Picture of Materials and Tools.

This is a fairly simple job (it only took me half an hour), but you do need some specialist materials:

  • Wheel ramps or axle stands. Do NOT attempt any jobs underneath a car supported just by a jack. People die like that.
  • Eye protection (unless you enjoy rust, dirt and toxic chemicals being dropped in your eyes...?)
  • Metal snips.
  • Jubilee clips.
  • Screwdriver (flat-head, to match the jubilee clips).
  • Assorted pliers, spanners and thumpy things.
  • Exhaust repair paste (available from any car spares store).
  • An empty tin can.

You should also wear appropriate clothing - spare a thought for whoever does the laundry in your home, and be aware that you could quite easily get un-removable gloop on your clothes. An old hat might help as well.

Step 2: Find Your Problem.

Picture of Find Your Problem.


If your exhaust isn't snapped through, but is still blowing, then you will be able to hear it - your car will sound as if the engine gained an extra couple of litres.

If you can't see the hole, just move your hand along beside the exhaust until you feel the breeze of escaping fumes - feel along both sides, above (if you can) and below, but be careful, the exhaust pipe gets a lot hotter than you'd think.

Step 3: Inside or Outside?

Picture of Inside or Outside?
Unfortunately, my exhaust broke at an odd-shaped bit which meant I had to fix it from the inside out.

I used the snips to turn the can into a sheet of steel, then rolled it up to be small enough to fit into the exhaust (be careful of sharp edges, both on the cut can and on the broken ends of the exhaust - tetanus jabs hurt).

I slid the rolled can most of the way into the steadier part of the exhaust, with only half an inch (1cm) or so sticking out.

I then pushed the other part of the exhaust into place, and slid the rolled can into that section as well, shuffling it a little at a time by grasping the rolled can with a wide-open plumber's wrench.

  • If the break had been at a straight section, I could have wrapped the can around the outside of break, locking it in place with a pair of jubilee clips.

Step 4: Fixing.

Picture of Fixing.

Although the rolled can completed the exhaust, and took the weight of the looser section, it was not secure enough to move the car, nor was it fume-tight.

I needed to pull the loose section up tight against the fixed section.

I put one jubilee clip around the loose section of exhaust, and threaded the second clip through the first, then around the protruding part of the fixed section.

Tightening the first clip provided a firm anchor point, then tightening the second clip pulled the broken ends tight together.

I then smeared the joint in copious quantities of exhaust fixing paste and left it to set.

Unfortunately, I have not found any tool more effective for getting the paste in the right place than the human finger. If you have sensitive or broken skin, you can either use a small spatula or stick, or wear gloves.

Once I was happy the whole thing was fixed, I snipped off the loose ends of the jubilee clips, to try and stop loose stuff getting caught under the car in future.

Step 5: Caveat

This is a bodge job. It is not a long-lasting repair.

It's not great engineering, but it cost about five pounds ($10) for the paste and the clips, and I borrowed the ramps.

That's a twentieth the cost of a professional job, and even less should the garage decide you need a whole new exhaust.

Add to that the fact that the car only need to last another six months or so, and it's the perfect solution to a problem which would have kept the car off the road for a week, when I need to get to work again on Monday.


AnthonyP184 (author)2017-08-24

Hey Moderator,

My post was nice, positive and constructive. Why has it been excluded from this site?

AnthonyP184 made it! (author)2017-08-24

I am abiding by the "be nice policy". Thats a crappy job but something is better than nothing. Welding deteriorated metal presents a challenge too. In any case, if it can last to the next inspection then its gud enuff. Other potential sites for exhaust leaks are at the connecting points. People often confuse exhaust noise here with a leak in the muffler. When I continued to have leaks at my exhaust flange, rather than cutting, replacing flange and welding I used a "C Flange Bracket". After several revisions the final lasted and is still on my truck after 2 years.

coffeex85 (author)2016-12-19

could have just got a piece of exhaust repair pipe rented a welder and done a proper job. it wouldn't have cost much more

EddieB20 (author)2016-11-09

I am going to try to remain positive here but it's going to be hard. Yes this will help cut down on the noise that your car is making, it is the worst example of home car repair I have see in a while. Kiteman kudos for trying to fix it and I know it is not ment for a long term fix but see how many people are wanting to do this to pass smog tests and inspections. Not to mention this could cause more damage to the car or cars behind it if something broke and came off the car like the tail pipe. I know the point of all of this is to do a low cost repair but this is even pushing that. A better fix would have been to borrow a hack saw and cut off the flange and for about $10 bucks buy 2 exhaust clamps and a double flared patch pipe from the auto parts store and installed that and it would last for a couple of years and be a lot safer and pass inspection. Again this would be a temp fix for the side of the road but I would not encourage anyone to do this is they have time to either do it right or at least get a few basic parts. Hope I was not to harsh.

WilliamS290 (author)2016-06-20

Kiteman, im new to car repair and was wondering if you felt that this method combined with Exhaust Bandage would work as a temporary fix reconnecting the exhaust pipe to the back end of cat converter? (Apologies if discription isnt the best)

Kiteman (author)WilliamS2902016-06-20

Without knowing details, my best answer can only be "probably", with a firm reminder that free advice from the internet can sometimes be worth less than you paid for it...

However, it was me, and I was trying to keep my car on the road until I could afford a proper fix, I'd do it.

WilliamS290 (author)Kiteman2016-06-20

92 chevy cavalier rust damage caused seperation, just trying to get like 3-4 temp fix mainly to make it more quiet till payday. Going to give it a shot. Thank you for the information you have provided bub!

Kiteman (author)WilliamS2902016-06-20

It's what we're here for, thanks for the feedback!

WilliamS290 (author)Kiteman2016-06-20

Just figured id post a follow up. Can and clamp rig worked out better than i though it could! Car is back to being quiet again and not sounding like a derby car.

Kiteman (author)WilliamS2902016-06-20


springsm (author)2016-04-18

#1 no your car will not pass emissions they use mirrors and look for modifications to exhaust such as missing cats.. #2 it works for a few weeks at most it heats up becomes weak and falls apart.
This is ghetto at best

Kiteman (author)springsm2016-04-18

#1 It does nothing to your emissions - it's fixing a break in a pipe, not replacing the catalytic converter.

#2 It lasted until I eventually sold the car for parts - several months.

SeanJC1 (author)2016-01-07

Awesome, article and a great way to fix the exhaust. HUGE thank you for taking the time to write, take photos and all that stuff :)

Kiteman (author)SeanJC12016-01-08

And thank you for your kind words.

MattH79 (author)2015-12-04

Thank you, Sir! Outstanding Instructable.

Kiteman (author)MattH792015-12-05

Thank you!

OmarJ3 (author)2015-08-21

Burned beans!! LOL

marie.cooke2 (author)2015-04-12

i need to know if I do this will my truck pass smog

kr4d (author)marie.cooke22015-08-08

That doesnt depend on a leak so much as what your engine is doing... if your burning oil or have bad sensors or a hollowed out cat chances are you wont pass.

Kiteman (author)marie.cooke22015-04-13

Oh, sorry, misunderstood.

I have no idea. All this does is fix a hole in the exhaust - if your truck failed bacause of holes, then, maybe, but I don't know the rules/laws in your area.

MRBENN made it! (author)2015-04-30

I made my first instrucable based on yours

Thank you for the guide

Kiteman (author)MRBENN2015-05-01

Cool - your version came out neater than mine!

marie.cooke2 (author)2015-04-12

after doing this will my truck pass smog

Kiteman (author)marie.cooke22015-04-12


JimE2 (author)2014-12-03

How would you repair a similar hole that is in the elbow of the exhaust pipe?

DNAP420 (author)JimE22015-01-10

Use a putty, its like dough so you roll it in a ball to activate, then can squish it an form it around the elbow, you can work it into creases an it will not run or drip. As long as you keep the two parts from moving, it will seal nicely around the piece. If you use thermal weld it will get stronger with heat

Kiteman (author)JimE22014-12-03

I'd be tempted to use a round headed hammer to shape a piece of can into a curve that fits.

GuyG2 (author)2014-10-28

Use flex pipe, usually 1.5 foot long. Could cut it much shorter. Lasts
ax. one year. Worth it. A section of my exhaust is flex pipe until I
pop for a $175 new part.
Add to the road kit: two clamps, flex pipe or whatever.
Note that cutting an exhaust pipe on the car can be a huge PIA unless its hanging down already. Note that a car sending unburned gas to the CAT can lead to very high temperatures, bad news if touched accidentally.

rsk11584 (author)2014-04-25

hi kiteman,
i am ravi from india saw your method and got an idea to fix exhaust pipe crack in my motorcycle, took a deo can cut it and wrapped around the pipe and used hose clips. thanks for the instructable

Kiteman (author)rsk115842014-04-26


rsk11584 (author)rsk115842014-04-25

i also used silicon sealant to keep away the heat from deo can.

dreid93 made it! (author)2014-02-03

I fixed my exhaust system (on a 2000 civic) when plagued with the same problem depicted here. My fix stemmed from this instructable though I used several different components for the fix.

Rather than using a tin can I used a piece of metal piping, roughly 4 inches long. Rather than jubilee clips I used metal wire. Jubilee clips were not need because bolts were present that held the joint, and the part in which the bold clamped to was what had snapped. I would suggest only one jubilee clip to be used (around the pipe), and metal wire replacing the jubilee clip that is not around the pipe.

I also substituted the repair paste with high heat JB weld (

I don't have a picture of the fix yet, though should in the next few days to attach as well :)

ndjalva (author)2013-08-26

NEVER EVER trust a ramp to hold your automobile up! Jack stands, blocks, old tire rims.
From me 40+ years as a mechanic and from CPSD, DOT and other places.

Kiteman (author)ndjalva2013-08-26

Ramps are fine if they have, as these, an area designed to prevent the wheels rolling off and you can leave the handbrake on.

I may not have quite your decades of experience, the only people I know of hurt working under a car were using jacks. The professional auto mechanic I borrowed the ramps from knew of nobody hurt by a car rolling off a ramp.

However, safety is the responsibility of the individual doing the work, and few people are hurt by too many safety precautions.

frankvanw1 (author)2013-01-09

Great Instructable:
Jubilee clips is also called hose clamps. I am in Canada.
Jubilee clip was a common brand in the UK and has become the way to describe the product; much like 'Hoover' for vacuum cleaners.

latemtech (author)2009-09-17

you could have just cut off the flange, clean the area, and put an adapter over it and use muffler clamps. $10 at autozone.

Kiteman (author)latemtech2009-09-18 the cost of the tools to do the cutting ;-) (I did say it was a bodge-job. I don't even have the car any more, I sold it for spares.)

KIRBEAST (author)Kiteman2013-01-04

I have the same problem on my car. I'm gonna try your solution tomorrow, but I'm gonna cut the flange off of the muffler and put a tin can inside and OUTSIDE of the tail pipe (for longevity's sake...). It's too bad the tail pipe couldn't have corroded in a more convenient spot... Oh well, here goes nothing!

Kiteman (author)KIRBEAST2013-01-04

Take photos, write your own version - this one is over four years old now.

rudolphdiesel (author)latemtech2012-06-06

I salute your "Captain Obvious' solution.

KIRBEAST (author)2013-01-04

Well done! I like the use of a tin can to save a few bucks! I also like the idea of simply cutting off the flange of the muffler. This way, you can clamp the tin can on the outside and don't need to mess around with all the putty. Plus, this way would probably last longer...

Kiteman (author)KIRBEAST2013-01-04


dlunn1107 (author)2012-10-17

I've used a tin can, but found that cheap rolls of tin can be found in the
home improvement store where I aisle; used for wood
stove stacks great!!

stephenniall (author)2012-08-24

A good trick my father taught me, If you had a small hole in your exhaust, Or anywhere in the engine. Simply epoxy a 2 pence piece to it & It'll hold up... We've fixed many leaks with that method.

JonC (author)2012-07-31

Interesting Instructable, never underestimate the power of temporary repairs, its worth knowing how to do them just in case. In the uk you can actually buy a kit with a curved sheet metal section to wrap it, adhesive and clamps, never used one but I guess its pretty well the same thing but probably more expensive and not as readily available.

The thing about safety is always err on the side of caution, if you have any doubt about a part being able to support the car don't use it. I own both ramps and 2 sets of axle stands and both are quite good for different jobs. But either way be very careful and make sure it's secure, and if you're not confident, find someone who knows what they're doing to help or take it to a professional.

For those discussing UK power, yes it is as standard 13A but its at 230V rather than 110V so the effective power is about the same as 25+A at 110V. A standard uk wall socket is quite capable of supplying enough power for welding even some quite thick metal.

rimar2000 (author)2012-04-04

Sustained applause and cheers, Kiteman!

I am thinking to establish a 3WGP (3rd World Grand Prize) for repairs like this.

Kiteman (author)rimar20002012-04-04


I don't actually own this car any more, and I've had two since, but I'm still quite proud of this simple bodge.

Yerboogieman (author)2010-06-19

We used to use a beans can like this for melting down pop cans while camping. It would stay red hot for about 2 hours or sometimes more before it finally broke. Since I have an axhaust leak, I will have to try this. Thanks Kiteman.

emuman4evr (author)2008-08-30

Would PVC pipe work?

Babyshoes (author)emuman4evr2008-08-31

No, not unless you found some incredible PVC that could withstand temperatures of over 400 deg.C... Exhausts can get very hot, especially near the engine!

About This Instructable




Bio: The answer is "lasers", now, what was the question? If you need help, feel free to contact me. Project previews on Tumblr & Twitter: @KitemanX
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