How To Fix Your Exhaust With An Empty Beer Can

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When the raspy belch gurgling from your car's leaky exhaust is about to become the final slight pushing you at last into complete insanity, here's an easy way to make exhaust pipe holes the least of your worries involving an empty beer can and some ingenuity.

This is a lot like JT's super hacky oil pan repair, but using lightweight beer cans as your patch instead of pennies. Using pennies is great, but if you're a real cheap bastard like me, the thought of sacrificing money, no matter the denomination, to fix something is abominable. That's where beer cans come in. You were going to drink that beer anyway (or already drank it). Plus, if you mess something up and get frustrated, you can drink more beer to calm your nerves. That also gives you more available patch material.


As always, use proper safety equipment, consult a manual, and be sober. Of course, you could also use an empty soda can. But who drinks soda out of cans anymore?

My ol' Subaru wagon had a swiss cheese-like exhaust system when I moved from California to New York a few years ago. But did I buy new pipes and hangers? Hell no! I J.B. Weld/beer canned the hell out of it and hung it from the car with a bunch of old coat hangers. It took a couple of years for it to fail, and that's only because I was abusing the car on a rough mountain road.


Don't fret. There's always a bush mechanic fix that'll get you on the road in no time. Keep in mind though that those stuck up stickybeats at your local safety inspection station might not see eye-to-eye with you on the coolness factor of a hack job like this. But oh well, can't please everyone.


1. A few basic supplies

Here's what you'll need to get the job done:

  • A file
  • A piece of 80- or 100-grit sandpaper
  • A small can of acetone (c'mon, you should have that around anyway. It's so handy!)
  • J.B. Weld, or if you have some other tough-as-nails epoxy you've used successfully to keep poo water from spewing all over your basement, use that. J.B. Kwik Weld sets faster, but the regular stuff is a little stronger. Either will do, and if you're on the road, Kwik & nasty is what you're going for anyway
  • An empty beer can. Skull that shit, punk! It's time to get to work!
  • Wire dykes and/or a razor blade
  • A couple of hose clamps. If you have some old ones around, so much the better. We're going for muy economico here, amigos

2. Prep the hole

First off, file any rust from the edges of the hole and use the sandpaper to rough up the exhaust pipe's surface up to about an inch around the hole. You have to have something for your patch to stick to.


Then, wipe the area around the hole clean with acetone so that the epoxy will stick to it.


3. Make some patches

Use wire dykes or a razor blade to make a small patch that's big enough to cover the hole, plus about 1/8-inch around it. As you can see, I went for the true pilsner beer seal just to be cheesy. Next, cut out a square patch that'll be significantly bigger than the little one, but won't wrap all the way around the pipe.


4. Make sure they're the right size

Here's the rough proportions you should be going for. This will ensure that the patch doesn't leak.


5. Mix the epoxy

Use equal parts of both and mix it thoroughly. Work quickly if you're using J.B. Kwik. True to its name, it sets quickly.


6. Epoxy the small patch

The small patch should still have some of that beer can curve to it, so it'll stick right on top of the hole. Use enough to cover the bottom of the patch, but not so much that there's epoxy dripping inside the exhaust pipe.


7. Stick on the small patch

This is where Kwik comes in handy, especially if you're working on an upsidedown surface. It'll set in a few minutes, so you can go on to the next step without worrying about holding the small patch in place.


8. Epoxy over the small patch

Once you're sure the small patch is set well enough that it won't move, it's time to slather more epoxy over it. You're not using the beer can so much to stop the leak as you are as a form for setting epoxy across a hole. With two layers of epoxy, the pipe won't leak. Make sure the second layer is thin, even, and smooth, and that it doesn't have gaps or runs in it. Think cursory bodywork skills here.


9. Put the large patch over the small patch

This part might be unnecessary, but I do it anyway to make sure there're no leaks. Only takes an extra couple of minutes. Secure that part — I'll call it the outer patch/shroud to make it sound official — with a hose clamp.


10. Trim hose clamp excess

You don't want that long tail hanging up on who knows what, so do yourself a favor and lop it off with the wire dykes.


That's it, you're done! Listen to that baby purr. Aren't you proud?

Photo credit: Benjamin Preston