A number of special exhaust system tools can be rented from auto supply houses or local stores that rent special equipment. A common one is a tail pipe expander, designed to enable you to join pipes of identical diameter.
It may also be quite helpful to use solvents designed to loosen rusted bolts or flanges. Soaking rusted parts the night before you do the job can speed the work of freeing rusted parts considerably. Remember that these solvents are often flammable. Apply only to parts after they are cool!
The exhaust systems vary slightly from year-to-year or model-to-model. From 1970-78, the 49-State models DO NOT use a catalytic converter, while the California models DO; the 49-State models use a pre-muffler in place of the catalytic converter. The 1979 and later models use a catalytic converter. Since the catalytic converter produces extreme heat, it is encased in a 2-piece heat shield.
The catalytic converter is constructed of a stainless steel shell and internal precious metals, such as: Platinum, Palladium and Rhodium; the internal metals act as a catalyst to convert the HC and the NOx (of the engine exhaust) into H 2 O and CO 2 . The average life of a converter is 50,000 miles (80,500 km) but under ideal operating conditions the life can be extended.
The 1979-81 models utilize a tail pipe tube, which runs from the muffler at the left-rear to the right-rear of the vehicle. On most exhaust system, the components are encased in removable heat shields.
Normally, when one component of the exhaust system becomes deteriorated, the entire system is (or soon will be) in need of repair. It is recommended that when repairing the exhaust system, replace the entire system, except for the catalytic converter (which may be salvageable).
To work on the exhaust system, the vehicle MUST BE raised and supported on jackstands. Since the exhaust system is subjected to extreme heat conditions, the nuts, bolts and tube connections may be welded together. If the components cannot be separated, use a hacksaw, a cutting torch or a metal cutting saw to remove the system or components. Be sure to acquire adequate clamps, bolts, studs and nuts before attempting to replace any component of the system.