It won't be too long before the end-of-year summer holidays are here. Packing up the family into the campervan and heading off to explore the country is something many Australians like to do while the kids are out of school. If you haven't owned your campervan very long, it is always best before you leave home to know what you should do if you experience issues with your exhaust system. Not only can you make sure you are carrying the supplies you need to deal with a potential situation, but it also helps to make sure you're not stuck on the side of the road in a blind panic.
Before You Leave Home
Rule number one of being a campervan owner is that before you head out of town on a trip, you must take your campervan in for a quick mechanical check. There is nothing more disappointing to the family, and insulting to your wallet, than getting 50 km from home and having your ride break down because of something simple that would have been detected in a pre-trip check.
A look at the exhaust system is a must on the pre-travel checklist. It must be attached tightly to the vehicle if you want to avoid having it fall off mid-route. Additionally, a leaky exhaust system can allow carbon monoxide to enter the campervan, and these fumes will make anyone travelling in the cabin feel nauseous and dizzy.
Once the pre-check has been done, you can load up the campervan and hit the road. Place a pair of oven gloves and a wire coat hanger into a storage closet, as you may need these later.
When You Are Driving
So you're driving down the road, hit a nasty pothole, and now there's a crazy rattle coming from beneath the campervan. Or, even worse, your campervan now sounds like a V8 tank-type hot rod. After you've pulled safely over and calmed your beating heart, it's time to look at the damage.
- If your campervan is now horribly loud, check to see if your muffler is still in place, or if it now has a hole in it. The muffler sits at the very end of your exhaust system and should be poking out beneath your rear bumper. If it's not there, check to see if it is now sitting on the road. A muffler cannot be reattached or repaired by you, so pick it off the road and put it in the van. The muffler will be hot, so use the oven gloves you have stashed in the storage cupboard to handle it. Next, drive to the closest mechanic to discuss repairs.
- If you are hearing a rattle from the exhaust system, it is possible one of the mounts that attaches the pipes to the underside of the campervan has broken loose. Once the exhaust has had time to cool down, head under the campervan to see where it has come loose. If the pipe is sagging, or you can see where the broken mount was, use the wire coat hanger to temporarily tie it back onto the chassis. Next, drive to the closest mechanic.
Ignoring The Problem
While you may love the idea of your campervan sounding like a V8 tank, it is not wise to put up with the problem any longer than it takes you to drive to the closest mechanic. In New South Wales, for example, you face a fine of up to $1,000 if you are caught using a vehicle that is 15 decibels or more louder than the state's noise limits. While a police officer should let you off with a warning if the issue has just occurred, you won't be so lucky if you get caught a second time.
A little forward-planning can help to make your trip away free of exhaust problems. You may not be able to stop your children from squabbling while you explore the amazing landscape Australia has to offer, but you now know what to do when your campervan sounds like a hot rod.
If you do notice a problem with your exhaust system, contact a local auto shop with experienced working on mufflers.