Reader Question: Dummy Exhaust?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Art asks: I’ve noticed that some new cars have dummy exhaust ports built into the lower rear valance panel; the actual exhaust tip is underneath the rear end of the car. Isn’t this dangerous?

My reply: I’ve had the same thought. Last week, I was test driving a new Mercedes A Class, which also has  the “decorative” exhaust outlets built into the lower part of the rear bumper. These – as you note – are for looks only.

There is no exhaust coming out of them.

This is good in that there will never be discoloration from heat, etc. around the “exhaust” outlets – which are typically painted boy color with a chrome accent surround – but possibly bad, because the exhaust exits underneath the vehicle.

In the case of the A-Class, the exhaust system ends in a pair of downturned tubes coming out of the muffler, located just behind the rear axle. The tips are about a foot behind the rear bumper and well underneath the vehicle.

This kind of thing used to be illegal, if I am remembering right, because of the possibility of exhaust gasses pooling underneath the floorpans/making their way into the passenger cabin.

I suppose the danger is minimal with a modern car because their exhaust stream is so clean and probably also because a modern car’s passenger cab is so tight – sealed from the outside world.

One assumes they know what they are doing. Or hopes, at any rate!

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. eric, this things has always been illegal and I hadn’t realized new cars were that way. Getting an inspection in Texas always required and exhaust to exit somewhere. Out the back, not in front of the bumper or to the side behind the rear tire.

    I was cleaning my trunk once(one of those things I have to do). It had a drain hole each side that was sealed with factory gunk, the good stuff and held down with 4 screws on each one. Then there was a rubber drain between the flat portion and the rear quarterpanels. I washed hell out of it, think I got something like gear lube spilled in it. It dried out as far as I could tell but I was worried there might still be water in those wells on the side. Hot weather, no big deal, just leave everything out and it would dry fairly fast and I’d know everything was dry as dust.

    So I began driving it and my exhausts didn’t go all the way back. I had taken off these big pipes that hung on the rear bumper. Didn’t take long before I was choking on fumes. I returned everything to original and put those pipes back on. I have no idea how it was getting into the car is such an amount but it was and there was no living with it. Truly, there would have been no “living” with it. Seems like a really bad idea. Maybe some pickup owners might think it’s ok to not have an exhaust exit but I don’t and neither does the factory. They all exit behind the right rear tire beyond the bed. Now most of them are two pieces with an outside part that keeps you away from the hot inside pipe. It’s a good idea on anything in my book.

    You only need to stand where the exhaust exits and try to do something in the bed to realize you are eating exhaust. As Willie Mays used to say(about dynamite caps)Don tech it.

  2. For what purpose? Save a few ounces of weight? Can’t be for looks, since it would look more like an electric without tailpipes showing through the bumper.


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