PETER ROST: PHARMA MARKETING EXPERT WITNESS. AWP, MEDICAL DEVICE EXPERT.: How to permanently and cheaply repair a muffler or exhaust leak yourself.

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How to permanently and cheaply repair a muffler or exhaust leak yourself.

So my Jeep started making more noise than it should. I tried ready made kits to repair the exhaust hole. They fell off after a few days. I tried a can with exhaust system clamps. The pressure and rust blew that thing up after six months. Finally I came up with a solution that has lasted.

All you need is at the Home Depot.

First, cover the hole or leak with steel wool. It will isolate and cover any leak or hole extremely well. Fasten the steel wool with several layers of aluminum tape. The adhesive will burn up, but the aluminum will stay, although it will become brittle by the heat.

Then, finally cover the aluminum tape with a a steel can that you cut open. DO NOT USE aluminum sheet folded around the pipe, it will blow after a few weeks or months, since it becomes so brittle by the heat. You can often cut the can with scissors. Fasten the can with two stainless steel hose clamps and tighten well. They don't rust and don't change. Do not get clamps from an auto part store. They will rust and you won't be able to get them off.

Finally, car sounds like new and this repair seems to last forever. Total cost about ten bucks.

--UPDATE -- This post was written in 2011 and now it is 2014 --this repair still good as new, no adjustments, no leak. Meanwhile, this post appears to have become one of the top three read search results for people who want to do their own muffler repair. There is no question that the key to success is the steel wool, and a strong steel can. They don't have to be stainless steel, but the rings used to hold them in place should be. Kind of weird that this idea never appeared anywhere, ever, before, but I'm super pleased to help fellow motorists avoid the high charges in the shop.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you have a suggestion for a curved section of pipe? I have to fix a hole on my xj but it's right on a curvy bit of pipe towards the front. A can wouldn't work there. Is there bendy aluminum I could use? can you email me a response at

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What kind of stainless steel can did you use?

Anonymous John said...

I followed this advice after using Tiger Patch muffler tape which did not bond to the pipe even after sanding down and thoroughly cleaning the pipe.

I altered the patch advice a bit because I had to cover over some holes in a piece of flexi tubing as well (not just a hole in a straight piece of pipe), so I used the stainless steel wool (actually stainless steel pot scrubber!), covered with aluminum tape to hold it in place around the pipe. Then I used stainless steel plumbing rings to attach the steel can.

Then, because of the bulk of the flexi tube that was wider than the pipe, I cut two pieces of aluminum pop can and attached that with plumbing rings on each end around the steel can and the muffler pipe. I then covered the whole thing in aluminum tape.

It stopped the leak nicely and the only complaint I have is that there was a kind've toxic smell for about 3-4 days. Not sure if it was the aluminum tape adhesive burning off, the aluminum tape itself or the white epoxy lining of the steel can, or some coating on the stainless steel pot scrubber. Wasn't crazy about the smell, gave me a headache, but it went away after a while.

If you can afford to do a proper patch, I would do that, but this works and is more permanent than muffler tape in a pinch.

Took about 3 hours to do, but this is my first time at such a project and I didn't really know what I was doing, though I did quite a lot of research.

And thanks to the OP for this, the steel wool idea seemed to help a lot.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter why do you use steel wool? It would seem like moisture would collect in steel wool and speed up rusting of exhaust pipe around steel wool. Also, steel wool is pourous and would make it difficult to seal hole with tape. Did you use standard steel wool or stainless? Was exhaust pipe on jeep original or aftermarket?

Blogger Peter Rost said...

Regular steel wool works great. Seems to isolate well, is pliable and I haven't noticed any rust problems. You can use a pretty thick piece. Not sure that water is problem, since it gets super hot, then just sits there isolated by layers of aluminum and steel can. Opened up repair once, everything looked like new.

Blogger Peter Rost said...

I used a stainless steel tea can. But you can use most food cans. As for curved area, that is more tricky. I guess steel wool, topped by aluminum tape, and then four or five adjustable stainless steel rings on top of hole may work. Aluminum on its own cant hold back against pressure.

Anonymous H.S said...

Good morning at 2am from London mate! I read this fix and my Mercedes Diesel would Hiss loudly on acceleration and on boost, and the torque was ridiculous...Turned out she had a hole the size of a penny in the downpipe just before the CAT! I looked online and found your page, and I managed to get some Aircraft Grade 3M Aluminum tape from a guy I know at work who works for BA. Finally, I had soup tonight for dinner and used the thick steel can. I followed your advice minus the steel wool (shops were closed today :( ) and did the repair sounds like new! No leaks, no rattles, just pure torque and the engine has an urgency to it now!

Thank you so much!

- H.S - London, U.K

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can this be done for a snowmobile?

Blogger Peter Rost said...

Sure, why not?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the responses. I will give it a try. I have a maxima 1997 and itsonds like a race car. I noticed smoke coming from under the car this morning where the exaust is. .

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For a bend in the pipe you can use 2 or 3 steel cans and just cut down the sides of each then bend them to the shape you need (they will over lap) won't look pretty but will get the job done. If your in the usa you can get a cheep wire feed welder from harbor freight. And dont forget to get a welding helmet unless you want to go blind.
This post is the best one for muffler fixes I have seen.
thank you

Blogger John D Carmack said...

This is cool! I was seriously thinking about trying the soda can trick after the garage wanted to replace my entire exhaust (not cheap on a Ford Explorer v8). I came across this post and decided to give it a go. So far, two months and it is still as quiet as it ever has been. Frankly, I've tried a few hacks before on previous cars that never lasted this long.

Thanks for the post!

Blogger Unknown said...

Did this last night (two tries with Auto Parts Store stuff was useless). Got everything at Lowe's. I unwrapped a pad of steel wool to wrap several times around the pipe. Wrapped that well with unbacked aluminum tape. I used a stainless steel hubless plumbing connector (minus the rubber gasket) instead of a can. Now my '93 SHO doesn't sound like a contestant in a county fair demo derby.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can this be done to repair hole on underside of belly of muffler? (Not the pipe)...are there stainless steel rings big enough to go around the belly of muffler?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter your a genius! I did as you described and I'm good to go. My 1993 Oldsmobile van is as good as new!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love you for this. I mean real Llllooooooovvvve. Thank you so much. I feel so relieved right now.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just used this repair to patch a hole in the exhaust pipe of my wife's car. The car is running like a dream now! Quite as a mouse and cost less than $15.00. Thanks for posting this repair tip!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to your post and detailed instructions I was able to reconnect a two inch section of the steel pipe that rusted all the way thru separating the muffler pipe end with the other end of the pipe hanging down bouncing on every bump in the

I used an extra copper wire to hold the long part of the pipe in place and using strong soup can tightly wrapped it around the pipe with another piece of copper wire to hold the can in place.

I screwed into the soup can two pilot holes having one hole for each piece of pipe to connect them together, screwed in 2 1/2" sheet metals screws and the pipe stayed put. I skipped using the steel wool and wrapped over the screwed in soup can with multiple wraps of the aluminum tape.

Turned the car on and voila purring like a kitten again!

I have pictures that I will post on flicker when I have time to see the grizzly details.

Total cost 3 hours and 0$ dollars, spare parts from my fathers garage.

Blogger Ben Burket said...

Hello All,

I'm going to try this, and I have one possibly dumb question. What exactly is a plumbing ring? Is it just a standard hose clamp? I typed in plumbing ring at home depot and nothing came up, so I'm assuming its a hose clamp.

Blogger Peter Rost said...

You are correct, should have written hose clamps, which is the more common name.

Anonymous SoloPilot said...

Thanks. Worked for me. No Check Engine light in the last 3 months since the fix. The steel wool acts as a gasket. Note that Midas wanted >$3000 and Meineke wanted >$800. I think the fix cost ~$5, not including the can of corn.

Anonymous charlie said...

Hi, can you please give me a quick fix for a broken exhaust pipe-it broke off were it goes INTO the muffler, i was going to use a 2 1/4 in. band clamp butt joint-without steel wool ?? thanks very much, charlie...Providence, R.I... CT299@MSN.COM

Blogger Peter Rost said...

That's hard. One option is to put can INSIDE of pipe.

Blogger Brandy Marth said...

I'm in the same spot as Charlie. Trying to find a solution to it rusting through at the muffler. If you put the can inside and used a clamp on the pipe part, would it hold it or just squeeze the can smaller?

Blogger Peter Rost said...

I'd go to Home Depot and get them to saw off a pretty long part of a steel pipe that would fit inside exhaust pipe and muffler . . . just a can would probably be to weak. Probably get your own saw too, so you can adjust, once you see how long the pipe goes into your system. The longer the better.

Anonymous FRITZ THE CAT said...

thanks for the fix! I found this page after many days in vain searching for solution other than simple Tiger Tape. That lasted 2 days for me. New parts are $1000 for my vehicle. The more elegant solution is the plumbing pipe Fernco connector with rubber sleeve removed and substituted with Stainless Steel wool _ if the section can be long enough. It will be more expensive, but look better. Plus it is stainless steel clamp and the hose clamps are included.
Other option is Flex sections
Big draw back of this is the need to cut lengthwise the clamp steel to slip on.

Blogger Peter Rost said...

GREAT suggestion, Fritz!!!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to repeat the question from above that was not answered. How can this technique be used to repair a hole in the underside of the belly of a muffler?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the fix!!! Just saved over $600 bucks. Applied fix to Flex Joint on a '97 Lexus ES300 that is located in front of the CC. Total cost for this fix was roughly $10 bucks.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the hole on the underside of the muffler, here's what I did (My issue was more of a seam leak with a small hole as well.

1. Muffler paste along the seam
2. Muffler paste and a small piece of metal to cover the hole
3. Large piece of metal wrapped around 1/3 of the muffler. For the metal, I went to Lowes and bought galvanized duct. Under $5 for what I needed. Regular scissors are almost good enough to cut this stuff into size. Tin snips are better.
4. Large hose clamps. I bought 4 or 6 of the large ones, fully unscrewed them and connected 2 together to make one larger one. Wrapped that around the muffler and tightened down beautifully.

This was intended to be a temporary fix as mufflers are generally clogged when it finds a new exit. That was almost a year ago. Using steel wool for the hole would have been ideal but didn't see this until today.

Blogger Jim Bartlett said...

I tend to agree that with the steel wool being very hot, water should be evaporated and rust not an issue. But to eliminate any concern, simply use stainless steel wool. It's available most anywhere that carries regular steel wool.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steel wool also seems to work well for a rotted out flange gasket. Two bolts at the top won't budge, but bottom bolt broke easily when trying to remove it. After spending a few hours trying to drill out the top two bolts without success, I decided to go to plan b. Grabbed some steel wool and used a thin blade to push it into the space between the flanges. Put a bunch in there (being careful not to get into the pipe), put a new stainless bolt and nut on the bottom and tightened it down. Sealed it completely. Works great.

Anonymous Alexandra Caprood said...

As a first time in the repairing of a hole in my muffler I may need some step by step advice, I am not to handy under the car but this fix seems to work for many others.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter, I feel like a new man!! 2000 tundra, leak spewing from the joint in the pipe between the cat and the muffler... been quoted $,$$$$!!! I am going on 2 1/2 weeks with 2 soup cans, steel wool and $11 in plumbing clamps. Thanks!!!!

Anonymous michael w said...

I am about to try using the steel wool to plug a small hole which has appeared on the seam of the muffler....I will apply a hi-temperature silicone (available from Home Depot/plumbing section) to the steel wool and surrounding area.....the silicone will penetrate & mix into the steel wool and form a type of patch similar to using/applying a fiberglass patch.....covering the patch & hole with aluminum tape or duct tape while it is drying/curing and then covering with metal from a cut can and holding it in place and firm with oversize hose clamps is a great speed up curing of the silicone, place a halogen bulb/lamp next to the patch, the heat from the lamp will speed up the curing time (careful of overheating any nearby gas lines)....will get back with the results.....kudos to Peter Rost for the original idea.....

Blogger Mongo054 said...

I just found this post and thought it was a great idea. I had a hole in the catalytic converter on my Impala so the soup can wasn't big enough to fit around it. I was able to find an old metal coffee can in my garage and with some trimming and reshaping, it fit. She's gone from sounding like a tank to purring like a kitten for a total of 9 bucks. I am hoping that this will hold and keep working for a while, but by reading other people's comments, I feel I don't need to worry. Took me a total of 1.5 hours to complete and that was including the trip to ACE Hardware for the hose clamps. Thanks everyone.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the guy asking about the pipe that broke where it goes INTO the muffler, here's what I did: I went to the auto parts store and bought an "Exhaust Reducer" -- basically a 3" piece of pipe with a different diameter on each side. One side had an "Inside Dimension" (ID) that was the same diameter as my exhaust pipe, while the other side had the same "Outside Dimension" (OD) as the hole in the muffler. Then I wrapped a steel can around the whole thing and covered it up in some muffler tape for good measure. Worked like a charm.

Blogger porcupine73 said...

Terrific I'm going to give it a try! The steel wool as kind of packing for the leak is brilliant.

I've got an old Subaru where the flange that hooks the muffler to the exhaust pipe has rotted away. I've been patching it up for years but have to repeat the repair every few months. I'll cut off what's left of the flanges so I have just straight pipe to work with.

This last time I spent far too much money on repair products and had about five layers on it. Versachem exhaust patch, followed by a layer or jbweld, followed by two layers of Permatex muffler bandage, followed by two 10 foot rolls of silicone tape.

Of those, the silicone tape actually worked the best and lastest longest. But I had a problem that made the exhaust get a lot hotter than normal and it burned right through the silicone tape.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just saying but a 5$ tube of quick steel just fixed my problem, just a suggestion.really easy to use just mix putty and smash on you can do a couple of layers and go nuts with it like I did and good as new. And won't rust. Living in Michigan that's a plus!!!

Blogger tired of wrenching said...

Yes there are stainless steel hose clamps that large, and in a pinch you can put a couple together to fit.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks! Worked like a charm! I wasn't sure it would work for me as my hole was pretty large, bigger than a golf ball! Also it was very close to a bend in the pipe. But seems to work great. Great idea! I wish I was that smart! LOL
I used medium coarse steel wool ( #2, because they were out of #3). I used 1 and a 1/2 pads. Sort of put the 1/2 pad in the hole and then laid the whole pad over that. Covered with 2-3 layers of the aluminum tape and used a standard empty can of food.
I did notice they have stainless couplings in the plumbing dept that looked like they would work Good. But they are not very wide and my hole was too big. I did try to double up the can at first but it didn't work well ( kinked and tore). So then went with one can and works great for now. Hope it lasts long time!

Blogger stumpjumper said...

i just repaired my 89 honda civic exhaust leak and it totally worked! really impressed. btw: home depot sells nice steel curved pieces that adjusts to different diameters with (2) two hose clamps already attached in the plumbing section. that plus aluminum tape and steel wool fixed the problem. thank you thank you!


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