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Can you drive with a broken exhaust?

Emily Jackson, 3 years ago

5 min read

  • Advice
  • Repair
  • tips

You can drive with a broken exhaust, whether that is safe or even legal is the larger issue at hand.

Can you drive with a broken exhaust? Well, an exhaust system is used to send harmful gases and fumes away from your vehicle, therefore it is an integral component of your vehicle. Its functionality is imperative to car condition and safety.

Any problems with your exhaust should be given immediate attention; whether that be a few cracks in the exhaust pipe or if it is hanging off the back of your car. Although, the severity of your exhaust problem indefinitely affects the outcome of driving with it untreated.

All that being said, exactly why you shouldn’t drive with a broken exhaust?


By law in the Road Traffic Act 1998, you should not drive a vehicle which is in a dangerous condition, and poses the threat of injury to anyone be that the driver, another motorist or a pedestrian. The argument then would be that if the exhaust system is broken and/or not properly secured, or further parts are at risk of coming off, this presents an obvious danger to other road users. Bear this in mind then deciding to put off an exhaust repair that will only worsen over time.


A severe issue with your exhaust will cause you to fail your annual MOT. This will be a result of excessive emissions and/or too much noise if its the silencer which is the damaged part. An exhaust which is partially affected may pass its MOT, but will be a ticking time bomb. If you don’t repair it soon, it will worsen the car’s overarching condition and pose a dangerous threat to you and other motorists.

Hazardous health

Not treating a damaged exhaust can actually put your health at risk. The exhaust is responsible for protecting you from dangerous emissions such as Carbon Monoxide. Breathing in CO can cause nausea and dizziness short-term – with much worse effects during long-term consumption. These dizzying effects can obviously cause dangerous driving as well as an immediate health risk, and may be an indication of a larger problem with your vehicle (in the catalytic converter). Thus, making driving with a broken exhaust not a good option, at all and in some cases a fatal mistake.

Increased fuel costs

As the exhaust works to remove harmful fumes from your car, its inability to work will reduce fuel efficiency. The increased pressure on the component will prevent the car from running as smoothly as usual, in turn increasing fuel consumption and emptying your wallet.

Damage to other parts of your vehicle

The toxic fumes from your broken exhaust will eventually damage the components around it. Overall, affecting the car’s condition. Scarily, these could even cause a fire; a hole in the pipe near the engine is a real risk.

Although there is no specific legislation that prevents you from driving with a broken exhaust, always apply common sense when it comes to such problems to keep you and others as safe as possible as well as to improve the lifespan of your car’s components and the vehicle itself.