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Summary
  • An exhaust clamp is primarily used for securing the exhaust to your vehicle, but it can also be used to prevent leaks and hold pipes in place when working on the exhaust system. 
  • There are different types of exhaust clamps, such as U-bolts or saddle clamps, band clamps, V-bands, and T-bolts.  
  • Between welding and exhaust clamps, the better choice will ultimately depend on you. Welding provides stronger bonds, but exhaust clamps are usually easier to install and remove.

The exhaust system keeps toxic combustion fumes away from you and your passengers, and it’s usually held together by exhaust clamps. Also known as muffler clamps, they secure the joints of your exhaust system together, preventing any leaks from reaching the cabin. When servicing the exhaust system, you usually have to remove these clamps before you can get to work.

What Is an Exhaust Clamp for?

An exhaust clamp is primarily used for securing the exhaust to your vehicle. However, that isn’t the only thing it’s good for. Most clamps are also used to prevent leaks and connect the joints on a catalytic converter without damaging any parts.

Exhaust clamps are also great for car enthusiasts who enjoy DIY repairs. They can use it to hold pipes in place, making it easy to disassemble and work on the exhaust system without cutting up the pipe.

Installing Different Types of Exhaust Clamps

Working on your exhaust system might seem like an intimidating task, but it doesn’t have to be as hard as it sounds. Here are some tips to consider when installing an exhaust clamp:

Preparing the Necessary Tools

Before you begin, consider preparing everything you need first. Having all of your tools on hand will save you a lot of time later on. You’ll need a wrench set, screwdrivers, and exhaust clamps. If you have a power drill, that can be a big help too.

Just in case, you might want to have a wire brush, exhaust sealant, and a penetrating oil like WD-40 at hand to clean the exhaust pipes.

Choosing the Best Exhaust Clamps

There are different types of clamps to choose from, and each one comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. You’ll have to carefully evaluate what your vehicle needs to make sure you don’t make the wrong choice.

Choosing the wrong clamp can create a loose exhaust seal, which can lead to poor fuel economy and increased emission levels. Some clamps also last longer than others, which is something you might want to consider as well.

Installing U-Bolt Exhaust Clamps

One of the most common types of exhaust clamps is the U-bolt. Also known as the saddle clamp, U-bolt clamps are easy to install. You usually need to place the U-bolt over the exhaust’s joint and tighten the nuts and bolts above the clamp. In some cases, you might need to apply some sealant to effectively prevent exhaust leaks.

You can find U-bolt clamps in most auto shops, where they’re sold at low prices. To help secure and seal the exhaust, consider adding a second clamp opposite the first U-bolt.

Installing Band Clamps

Unlike U-bolt clamps, band clamps don’t have nuts and bolts that tighten the clamp. Instead, these clamps have a wide strap of metal that wraps around the exhaust pipe joint. You can also find versions of band clamps where they’re already pre-shaped into a ring.

When installing band clamps, consider aligning the clamp over the pipe. Doing so should help you create a tighter seal than a U-bolt clamp, assuming you were able to evenly tighten the band clamp around the joint.

Band clamps are great for butt-joint seams, and they’re also relatively cheap and easy to install. In fact, you can easily remove them from the pipe and reinstall it again without cutting anything.

Installing V-Shaped Exhaust Clamps

If you own a high-end vehicle with a turbo, then you might want to splurge a bit and go for V-shaped exhaust clamps. V-bands are the most expensive type of exhaust clamps, but they’re also more effective than any other type.

Each clamp comes with a large outer ring that sandwiches two interlocking rings that are welded to the pipes. This results in a perfect leak-free seal that’s easy to remove and put back together if necessary.

When installing a V-band, make sure you have the right fit. Consider aligning the V-band flanges with the exhaust first, so that you don’t end up with mismatched parts.

Installing T-Bolt Clamps

Also known as a T-bar clamp, T-bolt clamps are best used for air intake applications. A T-bolt clamp is a large, lightweight clamp that secures the air intake pipe to the hose.

Compared to other types of exhaust clamps, it might be a bit harder to install because it’s hard to tell when it’s fully tightened. T-bolt clamps also come in fewer sizes than other more common clamp types, so you’ll have to be extra careful in choosing the right size.

How Long Do Exhaust Clamps Last?

While exhaust clamps don’t last forever, they can still last for a pretty long time. Most exhaust clamps can last for over 10 years before you have to replace them. However, some clamp types, such as V-clamps, need to be replaced every time you service your vehicle.

How Much Do Exhaust Clamps Cost?

It’ll depend on several factors, such as your vehicle’s year, make, model, and what type of clamp you’re in the market for. In general, you can expect to spend anywhere from $10 to $90.

Exhaust Clamps vs. Welding: What’s the Difference?

Exhaust clamps come with a lot of advantages, but they might not always be the best choice. Compared to exhaust clamps, welding gives you a stronger bond that lasts the pipe’s lifetime. It involves heating two metals to their melting points and introducing a filler material to fuse them together.

However, welding requires a lot more skills and tools than exhaust clamps. While welding two new pipes together is easy enough, welding a broken exhaust can get complicated. Between welding and exhaust clamps, the better choice will ultimately depend on factors like your budget, time, and automotive skills.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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