When upgrading a car, one of the things you can change out is the exhaust system. Most petrolheads replace the stock exhaust with an aftermarket stainless steel performance cat-back system as part of car tuning. However, if you live in a salty area or where salt is used to keep ice off the roads during winter, a rust may be your reason for replacing the exhaust pipe.
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Vehicles in the salt belt regions experience a lot of rust, especially on the exhaust pipe. Salt, humidity, and heat accelerate rust and corrosion on the exhaust often resulting in exhaust leakage problems.
A car with a leak in the exhaust system experiences performance issues that can only be fixed by replacing the exhaust. A better solution for this problem is to replace the rusty exhaust with an aftermarket stainless steel exhaust.
Other reasons why you might want to work the exhaust may be to service it, repair a broken exhaust hanger bracket, fix a saggy muffler, or lower the tailpipe to stop it from rattling against the car. You may also need to remove the exhaust muffler when installing the trailer hitch. Whatever the case, you have to deal with the suspension mechanism that holds the car exhaust in place.
What holds the car exhaust up?
Most cars use exhaust hanger brackets to hang the exhaust pipe underneath. Others use exhaust hanger bolts while a few others use rubber hanger donuts.
Exhaust hanger brackets do not attach to the underside of the car directly. Rather, they use special types of rubber bushings called exhaust rubber hangers.
Exhaust rubber hangers keep the exhaust from scraping the ground while at the same time dampen vibration from the exhaust system to minimize its transmission to the chassis. They also make the exhaust system more flexible and dynamically responsive to the high pressure of exhaust gases.
Unfortunately, getting off the exhaust hangers from the rubber mountings can be a pain if you do not have the right tool. Because of exposure to the environment, the hangers tend to rust and get stuck in the rubber grommets. So, unless you have a dedicated exhaust hanger removal tool, you might bust your knuckles and waste a lot of time trying to get them off by hand. That is where exhaust hanger remover pliers come in.
What are exhaust hanger removal pliers?
Exhaust hanger removal pliers are a tool for separating the exhaust hanger brackets from the rubber mountings. The tool makes it easy to remove the exhaust pipe from the car without damaging the rubber supports so that you can reuse them.
The exhaust removal pliers have jaws that are designed primarily for pushing the hangers from the rubber bushing. One of the jaws is a U-plate and the other is a push bar. The U-shaped jaw rests behind the rubber mounting while the push bar rests on the tip of the exhaust hanger. When removing the exhaust, the push bar pushes the hanger backward while the U plate pushes the rubber hanger forward. These opposing forces make it easy to slide off the hanger bracket from the rubber grommet.
There are many types of exhaust hanger removal pliers on the market but these three are the best.
Best Exhaust Hanger Removal Pliers Tools
Lisle 38350 Exhaust Hanger Pliers – Best for small cars
- Dimpled push bar
- No rubber on the handles
- Made in the USA
The Lisle exhaust hanger removal pliers (38350) take away all the fight you have to put with every rubber hanger when removing your car’s exhaust. They are easy to use and feel sturdy.
The design of the jaws allows you to use the tool perpendicular to the rubber hangers. You don’t have to worry about removing the exhaust space around the exhaust. Moreover, the end of the push bar is dimpled to keep the pliers from slipping off the tip of the exhaust hanger
The Lisle exhaust hanger remover pliers are made in the U.S.A. and their build quality is typical of the Lisle’s standard. They have a good price point and a great value for money.
The only downside I see with the Lisle exhaust hanger tool is the many riveted pieces that can fall apart when exposed to intense force. This limits the use of the tool to only removing exhaust pipes on family SUVs and small cars.
Nonetheless, these exhaust pliers are a great addition to your home garage toolset. They are also good for DIYers.
KTI Exhaust Grommet Pliers – Best for Cars and Light Trucks
- Rubber overmold on the handles
- Spring-loaded jaws
- Replaceable jaws
- Made in Taiwan
The K Tool International Exhaust grommet pliers are a reliable tool for pushing the exhaust hanger studs from hanger bushings. The tool has a solid construction and will last a good number of exhaust removal jobs if not a lifetime.
The tool has an external spring that keeps the jaws open. This is very useful for a one-handed operation. However, the spring makes the handles open too wide for a small hand but you can remove it for a better grip. Another downside is that the handles are quite thin and can hurt your palm when you press them hard. A way around this is to wrap them with a piece of cloth or wear leather gloves.
Otherwise, the tool is great and solid. It takes away all the frustrations when removing exhaust hangers from all family cars and light trucks. It is perfect for professional mechanics, DIYers, and weekend warriors. The pricing of the tool is also good for the pocket giving you good value for the money.
OTC Exhaust Hanger Pliers – Best for Professional Mechanics
- 2-position slip joint
- Rubber handles
- Solid piece of metal
- Molded handles
- Made in the USA
The OTC exhaust hanger pliers are the sturdiest pair you can get. Unlike the Lisle 38350 pliers which have many riveted pieces, this unit is a solid piece of metal and thus unlikely to break even with abuse. The slip joint on the pivot allows you to adjust the jaw width to different sizes of hanger blocks.
The major downside of the tool is that it has an awkward design that only allows you to keep the handles parallel to the hanger and not perpendicular downward. This makes it difficult to use the tool on cars where there is limited clearance around the exhaust hangers. Another disadvantage is that the stud is not dimpled to prevent the tip of the exhaust hanger from slipping. But the end is wide enough to get the job done if you set the tool right.
Other than that, the tool is great and perfect for professional use. You can use it to separate both small and large exhaust rubber isolators from exhaust hangers on small and big trucks such as the Dodge RAM. Unfortunately, the OTC exhaust hanger pliers are quite expensive but tough enough to justify the high price.
How to remove exhaust hanger brackets with exhaust removal pliers
- Exhaust hanger removal pliers
- Cam buckle tie down strap
- Soapy water or silicon spray
Step 1: Apply silicon-based lubricant or soapy water to rubber hanger
Spray silicone spray or soapy water to the rubber grommet and stud assembly. Any of them penetrates the grommet to loosen up the hanger stud and lubricate it. This allows you to slide off the bushing from the hanger more easily.
You might find this very helpful especially if you are removing an exhaust system that has seen better days.
I don’t recommend using WD-40 or any petroleum-based grease because they tend to eat away rubber.
Step 2: Support the exhaust pipe with cam buckle strap
Tie the cam buckle strap around the exhaust pipe and attach it to the chassis to keep the exhaust from falling when you remove the rubber hangers.
Step 3: Clamp the pliers on the rubber bracket hanger
Hook the U-shape jaw of the pliers on the exhaust hanger rod behind the rubber bushing and set the push bar jaw on the tip of the metal hanger.
If the exhaust hanger is hollow, it might help to put a coin between it and the push bar. Alternatively, you can angle the tool so it pushes off the lip of the hanger stud.
Step 4: Squeeze the handles of the pliers
Once you get a good grip on both the rubber mounting and the hanger stud, squeeze the handles of the pliers strongly. You will notice the rubber bushing slipping forward as you push the exhaust hanger backward.
Continue pressing the handles until the hanger slides all the way out of the rubber grommet.
Remove all the hangers on the exhaust and the muffler.
Step 5: Loosen up the cam buckle strap to lower the exhaust.
Slowly loosen up the strap holding down the exhaust to lower the exhaust pipe. Now you can slap in a new exhaust pipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Exhaust hangers are metal rods welded onto the exhaust pipe to suspend it underneath. The hangers hook onto the exhaust rubber bushings. Typically, the cat-back section of the exhaust system has three hangers; two around the silencer and one near the muffler.