Stainless steel is often considered the best material for an exhaust pipe. It can withstand high temperatures and it’s highly resistant to corrosion. However, stainless steel isn’t the only material that car owners can use for pipe exhausts.
Some people use aluminized steel, chromed steel, and our main focus in today’s article – galvanized steel. If you have always wondered whether a galvanized pipe is suitable for the exhaust, you’ve come to the right place.
In the article below, I will be explaining whether galvanized pipes are ideal for exhaust systems and everything else you may need to know about this material.
Table of Contents
- Can You Use Galvanized Pipe for the Exhaust?
- Why Do People Prefer Using Galvanized Pipes for Their Exhaust?
- Can Galvanized Pipes Withstand the Heat from Exhaust Systems?
- Do Galvanized Pipes Release Toxic Fumes When Used in Exhausts?
- What are the Potential Risks of Using Galvanized Pipes for the Exhaust?
- Are Galvanized Pipes Too Heavy for the Exhaust?
- Alternatives to Galvanized Pipes for Exhaust Systems
Can You Use Galvanized Pipe for the Exhaust?
Absolutely not! For those who aren’t familiar with galvanized pipes, these are steel pipes that are coated with zinc to enhance rust resistance.
The problem with this zinc coating is that it will break down easily when exposed to high temperatures within the exhaust system.
When a galvanized pipe comes into contact with exhaust gasses that are hotter than 400 degrees F, the zinc layer begins breaking down and producing toxic fumes.
That’s not all. Galvanized pipes will also corrode much more quickly when exposed to high exhaust temperatures.
This, therefore, beats the logic of using such material in the first place. so, if you switch to a galvanized exhaust pipe, it will eventually wear out and start to leak leading to more issues.
The bottom line is that galvanized pipes should never be used for the exhaust.
Why Do People Prefer Using Galvanized Pipes for Their Exhaust?
It’s interesting that some car owners still use galvanized pipes for the exhaust even though they are aware of the above drawbacks. it’s normal to wonder, why some car owners prefer this material. Well, there are a few reasons.
Compared to materials like stainless steel, galvanized pipes are super affordable. That makes them a cheaper option for any car owner who has a tight budget.
The other thing is that galvanized pipes are widely available. Therefore, you don’t have to look so hard for you to source such a pipe for your exhaust.
Though affordable and widely available, a galvanized pipe will not last very long when connected to your exhaust system. The initial costs may be low, but it will be very expensive for you to repair it in the long run.
Can Galvanized Pipes Withstand the Heat from Exhaust Systems?
Unfortunately, galvanized pipes can’t withstand the heat from most exhaust systems. Let’s use the example of a normal car.
In such a vehicle, the exhaust temperatures range from around 250 to 750 degrees F. Most of the time, the exhaust temperatures are usually around 400 to 500 degrees F.
The zinc layer on a galvanized pipe starts to deteriorate at 420 degrees F. That means even under optimal driving conditions, there is a huge risk of the galvanized coating breaking down.
When you explore the characteristics of galvanized pipes, it’s safe to say that they weren’t built for the exhaust system.
Do Galvanized Pipes Release Toxic Fumes When Used in Exhausts?
This is one of the things I hate most about using galvanized pipes in exhausts. When these pipes are exposed to high heat from the exhaust, a chemical reaction occurs that produces two main toxic fumes; Zinc Chloride and Zinc Oxide.
The latter, when inhaled by you, your family, or other motorists can trigger a condition known as metal fume fever which comes with side effects such as nausea, fatigue, and headaches.
As for Zinc Chloride, it will irritate your eyes and respiratory system. Long-term exposure to either of these fumes is harmful to your health. These are more reasons why you should stay clear of galvanized pipes.
What are the Potential Risks of Using Galvanized Pipes for the Exhaust?
So far, you have probably picked up on some risk factors associated with using galvanized pipes for the exhaust.
However, for educational purposes, allow me to list and explain the risks you will be facing when you weld a galvanized pipe to your exhaust system.
• Damage to the exhaust pipe – Even though the zinc coating is designed to prevent corrosion when exposed to high temperatures, the chemical reaction that occurs eats up the pipe walls leading to leaks and structural damage. You will be forced to replace the pipe after a few months.
• Production of toxic fumes – Be prepared to leave a trail of Zinc Oxide and Zinc Chloride wherever you drive to. As mentioned earlier, these gases can be pretty toxic to other motorists and your loved ones.
• It’s a fire hazard – When your galvanized exhaust pipe gets damaged, the leaks can increase the risk of fire.
When the hot gases from the exhaust have an escaping point, they can come into contact with flammable materials and ignite. This is a very dangerous risk, considering there are several car parts that are easily flammable.
• Regular Repairs – Can you picture installing a new exhaust system after every few months? Well, that’s the life you will be sentencing yourself to when you use a galvanized pipe for your exhaust. Regular repairs aren’t only inconveniencing but they are costly.
• It may get you into trouble with the authorities – In some parts of the world, galvanized pipes are prohibited from being used in the exhaust due to the above dangers. Therefore, if such a law is enforced within your location, you could be fined or penalized if found guilty.
Are Galvanized Pipes Too Heavy for the Exhaust?
Apart from all the risks mentioned above, using galvanized pipes will also add some extra weight to your vehicle and affect its performance. Steel by itself is already heavy.
When you add a layer of galvanized zinc coatings, the exhaust becomes heavier. If you are a performance enthusiast, adding more weight to your car should be the last thing that’s on your mind.
There are plenty of exhaust pipe materials out there that are lighter, safer, and more durable. And that brings us to our next sub-topic.
Alternatives to Galvanized Pipes for Exhaust Systems
Now that you’re aware of the drawbacks of using galvanized pipes for exhaust systems, you’re probably interested in other options. Here are some materials worth considering;
• Aluminized Steel – This is a hybrid exhaust pipe material that utilizes the corrosion resistance of aluminum and the strength of steel. It can withstand extreme temperatures without breaking down.
• Stainless Steel – If you look at most cars, you will notice that the exhaust pipes are made out of stainless steel. Stainless steel is a favorite material because it is highly durable, corrosion-resistant, and can withstand harsh temperatures.
• Titanium – Though not very popular, this is an excellent alternative to galvanized exhaust pipes. Titanium is lighter than galvanized steel. So, you will enjoy improved performance.
I would recommend titanium pipes to be used in the exhaust systems of race cars and high-performance vehicles. Please note that titanium exhaust pipes are super expensive and may not be ideal if you are on a strict budget.
As you compare these galvanized pipes alternatives, it’s crucial to factor in cost, performance, heat resistance, and durability.
Do not forget to comply with local regulations and compatibility. Not all pipe materials will be compatible with your car’s exhaust.