Can You Drive With a Broken Exhaust?

Ellie Dyer-Brown, 3 months ago

5 min read

  • Exhaust
  • Repair
Close up of a car's exhaust pipe.

WhoCanFixMyCar discusses whether you can - or should - drive with a broken exhaust.

The exhaust system sends harmful gases and fumes away from your vehicle. When it stops working correctly, you'll probably be able to keep driving, but doing so may put your health at risk.

This guide discusses everything you should consider before driving with a faulty exhaust.


Is it legal?

Will it impact your car's MOT test?

How can it affect your health?

Can it impact fuel efficiency?

Could it damage other components?

The law doesn't specify that driving with a broken exhaust is not allowed. However, the Road Traffic Act 1998 outlines that you should not drive a vehicle in a dangerous condition that poses the threat of injury to anyone, be that the driver, another motorist, or a pedestrian.

A corroded exhaust.

If the exhaust system is broken or not properly secured, or further parts are at risk of coming off, this presents an obvious danger to other road users. That's why it's best to book a repair rather than putting it off.

Will it impact your car's MOT test?

An exhaust problem must be severe to result in an MOT failure, meaning there is a significant leak or unsafe emissions. Minor corrosion or leaks will be noted in the report but will not cause your car to fail.

MOT certificate with car key on top.

The problem here is that exhaust issues tend to worsen with time; what counts as a minor leak one year could quickly develop into a major leak by the time of your next MOT. You can only put off repairs for so long, and acting fast could save you money because the repair will be smaller than further down the line.

Find out about common MOT fails & how to avoid them.

How can it affect your health?

Not treating a damaged exhaust can put your health at risk. The exhaust protects you from dangerous emissions such as carbon monoxide, which causes nausea and dizziness in the short term and much worse effects in the long term.

Breathing in exhaust fumes, whether petrol or diesel, can irritate your eyes and respiratory tract and have a long-term impact on your health. For this reason, we recommend fixing exhaust problems as soon as you are aware of them.

Can it impact fuel efficiency?

When your car's exhaust system develops a leak, it can disrupt the air-to-fuel ratio, leading to decreased engine efficiency and increased fuel consumption. The longer you ignore an exhaust problem, the more it could end up costing due to extra fuel requirements.

A car fuel gauge with orange low fuel warning light.

This guide explains how to get the best fuel efficiency from your car.

Could it damage other components?

A leaking or cracked exhaust could damage other components due to extremely hot gas escaping. Eventually, this may lead to serious mechanical issues.

Although no specific legislation prevents you from driving with a broken exhaust, you should always apply common sense to keep yourself and others healthy and safe (including your car).

If you found this guide helpful, you might also like:

Written by Ellie

Ellie Author Pic

Ellie is WhoCanFixMyCar’s Content Writer. She has a BA in English literature from Durham University, a master’s degree in creative writing, and three years of experience writing in the automotive industry. She currently drives a Suzuki Swift.

Find Ellie on LinkedIn.