Is it illegal to drive with a broken exhaust

Because the exhaust is on the underside of the car it is likely to take much more damage than most other parts of the car such as bumps and scrapes from uneven roads and speed bumps, salt and water damage when the road is wet and of course the constant smoke going through the pipes.

We received a question from one of our customers over a damaged exhaust pipe (on the current car, not our lease) and whether or not it needed replacing asap or whether it was OK to wait a while before the new car arrived. We didn't know the answer straight off so we decided to answer it properly so that anyone else wondering the same can find the answer easily.

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Is driving around with a broken exhaust legal?

Although the law doesn't state specifically that driving with a broken exhaust is illegal, the law does say:

"A person is guilty of an offence if he uses, or causes or permits another to use, a motor vehicle or trailer on a road when:

  1. the condition of the motor vehicle or trailer, or of its accessories or equipment, or
  2. the purpose for which it is used, or
  3. the number of passengers carried by it, or the manner in which they are carried, or
  4. the weight, position or distribution of its load, or the manner in which it is secured,is such that the use of the motor vehicle or trailer involves a danger of injury to any person"

This is taken from a quite old page on

What this means is that if the exhaust pipe has been compromised and has a real threat of falling off then that would be a danger to other road users and therefore it is illegal. However, there are some other factors which may also make it illegal

Noise pollution

An exhaust with a hole in it can produce loud noises when the engine is revved. Taken from NI direct, it states "All exhaust silencers must be maintained in good and efficient working order. You will be breaking the law if you remove a silencer or make any modification that would make that vehicle emit a noise louder than the original exhaust before it was modified."

Technically, a hole in the exhaust is a modification even if it isn't intentional and therefore the loud noises from the broken exhaust are illegal.

Carbon monoxide poisoning

A broken exhaust has a chance to slowly leak co2s into the cabin as opposed to the back of the car via the tailpipe. Although this itself isn't illegal in terms of the DVLA or MoT it would certainly leave you in a spot of bother if you poisoned your passengers know that you had a broken exhaust in the first place. If you've been a long journey and your passengers have fallen ill from the co2s or worse then we wouldn't be surprised if they took legal action against you if it turns out you know about the possibility beforehand.

This is especially true when travelling with children.

It will fail an MOT

Having a broken exhaust will mean an instant MOT failure and as we all know, not having an MOT makes a vehicle illegal to drive. 

Closing Comments

Although it may seem safe enough to drive around with a broken exhaust it is definitely not something that is recommended and should be repaired as soon as possible. Driving with a broken exhaust can be a danger to your passengers and other road users so it would be selfish and irresponsible to continue driving a car with a broken exhaust.


Yes. From falling debris on the road to dangerous carbon monoxide leaking into the cabin.

Yes, you can technically drive it but it isn't likely to be legal.

As an estimate, replacing an entire exhaust system should cost anything from £200-£600 depending on the make and model of the vehicle.