Unless you’re trying to imitate an Rx-7 from Fast and Furious, you probably don’t need a straight-piped exhaust on your 2010 Hyundai Sonata that you use to pickup weekly groceries from Kroger’s… Now unfortunately, car parts will need to be replaced. So if you start hearing an odd metallic clanking, or “fart noise” coming from your exhaust, it’s a good sign you’ve got problems with your exhaust manifold, muffler or flex pipe.
In this guide, we’ll talk about what a flex pipe is, what it does for your car, and the average costs of repair.
What is a Flex Pipe?
Typically made of forged or stainless steel, a flex pipe gives your front-wheel-drive vehicle’s exhaust system the flexibility it needs. Automotive exhaust pipes heat up a lot from the exhaust gas passing through the system and going out the tailpipe; so manufacturers cannot use materials like rubber to allow an exhaust system to shift, bend, or be flexible.
As such, the flex pipe is constructed from metal strips woven into a lattice, so it can withstand extreme gas heat as well as give your vehicle’s exhaust system the flexibility it needs. Accordingly, the flex pipe is an essential part of almost every all-wheel-drive vehicles that protects the vehicle’s exhaust system from breaking.
Flex pipes tend to cost around $150 to $200, depending on the materials used.
Flex Pipe Repair Costs
Depending on the model and make of your vehicle, the price of repairing your flex pipe will vary.
At any rate, you need to repair your flex pipe as soon as you notice something is off, since not having a proper flex pipe installed can cause severe damage to your car’s exhaust system. It can break flanges, bolts, and the exhaust manifold.
The total cost to fix a Ford Fusion pipe would be about $200 (not including taxes). Labor costs range between $65 and $80, while parts tend to be around $75-$200.
The average cost for a Toyota Camry exhaust pipe replacement is between $175 and $300 (not including taxes). Labor costs range between $75 and $100, while parts are around $100 to $200.
The total cost to fix a Honda Accord flex pipe is between $160 and $300 (not including taxes). Labor costs range between $80 and $100, while parts tend to be around $80-$200.
Symptoms of a Bad Flex Pipe
It is not always easy to tell when your flex pipe is breaking down, but here are some definite signs that it is leaking:
You probably have an exhaust leak if you smell raw gasoline whenever you drive your car. You need to look into getting a new flex pipe if you are experiencing this.
We have another guide to prices to fix an exhaust leak.
One of the most obvious symptoms of a bad flex pipe is an excessively loud exhaust. A cracked flex tube may create a hissing or tapping sound that may become more pronounced during acceleration.
If your flex pipe is hanging, is visible from the sides of the vehicle, or is dragging underneath the vehicle, you may need to look into getting your vehicle inspected by a professional technician to determine whether the car needs a flex pipe replacement. A crack in the flex tube may be behind this.
A damaged flex pipe can produce an exhaust leak that can lead to performance issues, such as decreased fuel efficiency, acceleration, and a decrease in power due to the loss of back pressure.
How Long Does a Flex Pipe Last?
A good flex pipe should last you the life of your vehicle, or at least, the life of your exhaust. This is largely dependent on if you live in the rust belt. If you’re in non-rusty areas like the West: Washington, Montana, Wyoming… Your flex pipe should last 200,000 miles.
If you’re in the Mid-West where salt is used heavily on the roads, or near the ocean, you could be replacing your flexpipe and/or entire exhaust within 5 years of owning the car.
What Causes a Flex Pipe to Go Bad?
Rust can cause a flex pipe to go bad. Lower quality flex pipes are more likely to rust faster and may even rust through.Pro Tip If you’re replacing a flex pipe, look for a good metal like T409 which will last much longer that cheaper “aluminized” exhaust parts.
Broken or weak motor mounts can also cause the engine to move too much, which may cause the flex pipe to break.
A flex pipe can also be broken due to your car bottoming out. This may end up poking a hole into the flex pipe.
In this video, Urban Automotive has a quick and simple video of what can cause damage to your flex pipe, and shows what it looks like in action.
Can You Drive with a Bad Flex Pipe?
You can drive with a broken flex pipe. However, this may not be a wise choice for various reasons.
It is dangerous to drive with a broken flex pipe, as a damaged flex pipe can put your health at risk . A flex pipe helps direct dangerous emissions such as carbon monoxide away from you. A broken flex pipe will result in higher carbon monoxide levels in your cabin, which can cause nausea and dizziness in the short term and lead to dangerous driving.
The toxic fumes from your broken flex pipe will also eventually damage the other parts of your car. In fact, these fumes can even cause a fire, particularly if there is a hole in the pipe near the engine.
Further, depending on where you live, it may be illegal to drive with a bad flex pipe. Many jurisdictions will not allow you to drive a vehicle that is in a dangerous condition and poses the threat of injury to anyone, be that the driver himself or herself, another driver, or a pedestrian.
Driving with a bad flex pipe will also cost you more. Since a broken flex pipe will not be able to remove toxic fumes from your car, your car will be unable to run as smoothly as it normally would, leading to an increase in fuel consumption.
As such, driving with a broken flex pipe is not a good idea; indeed, it can be a fatal mistake. Accordingly, you should get a replacement as soon as you notice something is off with your flex pipe.
All in all, flex pipes are an important part of your vehicle’s exhaust system. Since a flex pipe directs toxic fumes away from you, it is important that you do regular check-ups on your car’s flex pipe.
If you see anything that looks, smells, or sounds off, you should look into getting a replacement flex pipe as soon as possible. In such a scenario, procrastination can be a fatal mistake (and increase your flex pipe repair costs).