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So leaving work yesterday I heard a clang! - the muffler simply fell off. Further inspection revealed a lot of rust in one particular area on the pipe. Thankfully the forward muffler is still intact so the car isnt that loud.

My question is: would it still be safe to drive (to go to the shop to get new parts) with the exhaust coming out underneath the car (break is somewhere underneath the boot/trunk)?

I may be a bit overly cautious but would heat from the open exhaust effect the fuel tank some how?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

You will likely be annoyingly loud but otherwise fine. As always, you are liable for your own compliance with local noise ordinances.

I would recommend that you drive with the windows up until you give the car to the shop in order to avoid any risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. For example, don't drive with the trunk propped open: the low pressure behind the car will trap a bunch of exhaust back there and you don't want it coming into the car with you.

The risk is pretty low but you'll feel better if you're already concerned.

It's unlikely that the tank will notice any increase in temperature: it's used to being in the vicinity of hot metal carrying exhaust fumes. Now it's just going to experience the fumes directly.

When I replaced my muffler some years back, I started the car with the muffler off and was seriously tempted to drive around making a huge racket without any concern about exhaust fumes. My son convinced me that we'd get into too much trouble. He did agree that it sounded glorious, though....

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If the catalytic converter is missing, you might get into much more trouble than startling a few neighbours' kids and cats. But you are right, the sound and feeling is truly epic -- I've experienced this myself on an old BMW a friend of mine used to have; the whole town knew we were out and about. –  mindcorrosive Aug 30 '12 at 13:45
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I don't think you need to worry about the fuel tank, though use good judgement here: if the trunk feels hotter than the sun, I wouldn't risk driving around. I think my main concern would be exhaust gases getting into the cabin and making you too whoozy to drive safely. Open windows and a short drive should alleviate this though.

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