How Long Can You Drive With a Broken Flex Pipe?

You can drive with a broken flex pipe, but you could experience performance issues and damage the exhaust manifold if you don’t have it repaired or replaced.
Written by Jaya Anandjit
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
You can continue driving with a damaged flex pipe, but it will impact your vehicle’s exhaust performance, acceleration, and fuel economy. You won’t be able to pass an emissions test until the part is repaired or replaced.
Your car will continue operating with a bad flex pipe, but it’s not a good idea to carry on driving without this part well-functioning and intact. To help you on your
car repair
journey, here are the steps you should take if your flex pipe is damaged.
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Is it safe to drive with a broken flex pipe?

Technically, yes—but ideally, no
Your vehicle’s flex pipe connects the engine to the exhaust pipe. It transports exhaust gasses and absorbs vibrations, which helps the exhaust system function and extends the lifespan of other exhaust parts. 
A broken flex pipe could release exhaust emissions that could potentially affect your health. Additionally, your vehicle will experience acceleration issues, loud noises, and a loss of fuel efficiency if you continue driving with a bad flex pipe.
Driving with a fault flex pipe will result in a shakier and noisier ride, and if an exhaust leak occurs, carbon monoxide fumes could seep into the vehicle’s cabin, which poses health risks to drivers and passengers. You should have your flex pipe repaired or replaced as soon as you notice something wrong.

How long can you go without changing your flex pipe?

Generally, flex pipes are expected to last through the entire lifespan of a vehicle. They’re typically built to remain intact and only require repairs or replacements if damage occurs from unexpected wear and tear or an accident.
If you notice signs of a damaged flex pipe, you should have it replaced as soon as possible. If you can’t have it fixed immediately, you’ll be fine to continue driving, but you’ll risk an exhaust leak or further exhaust damage that could impact your vehicle or the physical health of you and your passengers. 
Also, keep in mind that your vehicle will not pass an emissions test if the flex pipe is leaking exhaust gasses, so you’ll need to get it fixed before your registration date and emissions test come around. 

Can a bad flex pipe cause engine damage?

Flex pipes connect the engine and exhaust system to transport exhaust gasses. If your flex pipe breaks, it can result in an
exhaust leak
that creates engine performance issues. While your engine may not experience direct damage, it will operate inefficiently with lower acceleration, decreased fuel efficiency, and increased noise and shaking.
Additionally, your flex pipe is responsible for absorbing your vehicle’s vibrations to protect other components of the exhaust system and the rest of the vehicle, not to mention it makes your ride a lot smoother. Your exhaust system and its many components are at the highest risk of damage from the extra vibrations emitted due to a faulty flex pipe. It’s best to have it fixed before further damages occur. 

How to tell if your flex pipe is broken

Damaged flex pipes result in lower fuel efficiency, decreased engine performance when it comes to acceleration and power, and a failed emissions test. 
You’ll notice the following symptoms if your vehicle’s flex pipe is broken:
  • Raw fuel odor: if you smell fuel, burning, or another unusual bad smell, your flex pipe may be damaged and leaking. Avoid breathing in this smell and open your windows for better airflow through the cabin.
  • Loud noises: obnoxious noises, such as roaring or growling when you start the engine, may be a sign of a damaged flex pipe.
  • Dangling flex pipe: If you hear a scraping sound or feel the movement of something dragging against the ground while driving, it could be a disconnected flex pipe. If your exhaust pipe is hanging down, you should have it repaired immediately to avoid further damage.
  • Lower efficiency: Acceleration issues and decreased fuel efficiency could be due to a faulty flex pipe.
If you notice any of these issues with your vehicle, contact your local dealership or a professional mechanic to diagnose the exact problem.

How much does a flex pipe replacement cost?

Repair costs for a flex pipe will depend on the age and value of your vehicle, but they typically cost between $150 to $300 for parts and labor. Repairs can get your vehicle back up and running without any further issues, but if your flex pipe continues to return problems, you may require a replacement. 
Flex pipe replacements cost around $300 for a new pipe and around $200 for labor, so you can expect a replacement cost of around $500. While replacements are pricier than repairs, it could be worth it in the long run if your flex pipe continuously breaks or leaks.
Swap your damaged flex pipe for a new one to avoid further issues with your exhaust manifold, engine, and vehicle performance. 
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