I’m suspecting I may have a manifold leak because I’m getting burning smells from the manifold.

I have just read that a leaking manifold can burn plastic wires etc.

How long can I drive around before any leak does any real damage? Can we say if the diameter of the leaks is not more than 5mm it’s not a problem etc or how can we decide if it’s safe to drive with a manifold leak or not?


  • If you had a 5mm diameter hole in your exhaust manifold, you wouldn't want to drive your car anywhere unless you were wearing ear defenders. – alephzero Oct 28 '20 at 3:19
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    Until enough gets into the cabin and you make a fatal mistake. – Solar Mike Oct 28 '20 at 5:12
  • Unfortunately the answer is "as long as you live". An exhaust leak can be very dangerous and if you must drive it to get it serviced, open the windows so that you have as much fresh air coming in as possible. – jwh20 Oct 28 '20 at 16:24
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    Open ended questions asking for speculation/opinions are not on .. oh wait.. I just said that on your other question.. – Caius Jard Oct 28 '20 at 19:33
  • James - you seem to be posting a lot of questions without sufficient detail, or that imply you haven't read answers to your previous questions - further supported by the fact that you don't seem to accept any answers. I think it would be a good idea to go back and read all the answers to your posts, accept the best one in each case, and learn from them. – Rory Alsop Oct 29 '20 at 9:40

Depends.. how far is it to drive it to a place of repair? Because driving it around any further than that isn't safe, in fact it isn't really safe to do that particularly if you're already smelling burning. Without knowing precisely what is being burnt it's impossible to say whether what is being burned away is something the car needs to function or not. In addition to the obvious safety concerns that accompany burning - fires, sudden failure of important components while in motion that sort of thing, you should also be concerned about what you can't smell!

It's probably worth having a good look and making sure nothing is touching the manifold that shouldn't be after it was replaced/repaired from the previous leaks, as this could be an explanation for the burning smells.

If these weren't addressed back then, well I think it's a pretty sure bet that any time you could have borrowed to live on back then is well and truly exhausted. Cracks/rust sufficient to cause multiple leaks nearly two years ago are only going to have gotten significantly worse in the intervening time. It won't be safe to drive around on, it won't be legal to drive around on and it should not be driven around on.

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