Can Car Exhaust Kill Grass, Plants, and Insects? (Might Surprise You)

Every time you drive your vehicle, you might not see it, but there are usually lots of harmful substances coming out of the exhaust pipe.

While they may be crucial byproducts of running combustion in your engine and exhaust system, car exhaust may harm the environment and insects.

Especially in the case of diesel engine powered vehicles where their exhaust is too much than even petrol cars; Plants, grass, and insects will suffer from this.

Today, we shall give you a comprehensive guide on whether car exhaust fumes can kill grass, plants, insects, and many other topics.

So, stay tuned as we dive into it.

Let’s Discuss If Car Exhaust Kills Grass, Plants, and Insects in Your Garden

First, car exhaust is made up of gases that are helpful to plants, especially during photosynthesis, while some gases are harmful to grass, plants, and insects and may even kill them. You will find car exhaust everywhere, especially for people who reside in urban areas.

car exhaust fumes near grass and plants
car exhaust fumes near grass and plants

Additionally, even though the rise in electric and hybrid cars is reducing the chances of car exhaust, still exhaust emitted may have negative implications for your grass, plants, and insects.

Car exhaust contains nitrogen oxide (NOx), which usually causes smog that leads to acid rain and sun rays. It can be harmful to plants and even prevent photosynthesis from taking place. Moreover, hydrocarbons emitted from car exhaust are toxic to grass and plants.

If these hydrocarbons go deeper into the soil, they dehydrate the leaves, making them darker and eventually brown. This will, in turn, lead to stunted growth and, eventually, drying of the leaves.

Regarding insects, the exhaust makes it difficult for the insects like butterflies and bees to smell the flowers to pollinate. Nitrogen oxide usually reacts with floral scents causing a reduction in pollination.

The bottom line is that the toxic gases in car exhaust will kill grass, plants, and insects in your garden, especially in urban areas.


What Are the Harmful Car Exhaust Fumes That Can Kill Grass, Plants, and Insects?

Yellow car exhaust pipe emitting fumes
Yellow car’s exhaust pipe emitting fumes on the road.

Below are some harmful car exhaust fumes that can kill grass, plants, and insects. Take a look.

1. Nitrogen Oxide

Nitrogen oxide (NOx) usually leads to the smog that prevents sun rays and causes acid rain. It is harmful to grass and plants.

It’s an air pollutant that causes contamination of the earth’s atmosphere. Because of smog, usually leads to acidic rain, which, when it comes in contact with plants, grass, and insects, may be harmful.

Nitrogen oxide is recognized by its brown plume, which mainly forms in areas with a very high gas concentration. The gas has a sharp smell and a plume or haze.

Nitrogen oxide is a toxic fume and dangerous pollutant that kills grass, plants, and insects.

2. Sulfur Oxides

This fume is one of the other harmful gases to plants, grass, and insects. Sulfur oxide contaminates the earth’s atmosphere with its component called smog. It also causes acid rain, which harms people and plants.

When insects inhale or smell Sulphur oxide, it makes it difficult for pollination to take place. Normally, the combustion of Sulphur-containing fuels like coal and petroleum oils usually leads to dangerous air pollutants destroying the earth’s fragile atmosphere.

When this happens, it is dangerous for grass, plants, and insects to grow under such conditions. When they are emitted in large amounts, they harm organic matter to a larger extent making our soil infertile.

Additionally, Sulphur oxide causes respiratory problems in humans by irritating the lungs and air passages.

3. Benzene (C6H6)

This gas usually comes out naturally in diesel and petrol engines. Though they are emitted in small amounts, they usually come out as unburnt fuel.

Benzene is commonly known as a carcinogenic fume, meaning if you inhale excess amounts, it may harm your health.

4. Particulates

You will also find air-bone particles in car exhaust, especially if your vehicle is diesel-powered. The particulates usually negatively affect humans as they may cause breathing problems.

Currently, most modern cars are designed with diesel particulate filters to filter harmful particles so they do not reach the atmosphere.

5. Carbon Monoxide

The emission of carbon monoxide happens because of incomplete combustion of the fuel. Excess amounts of it usually cause poisoning, whose symptoms include; weakness, dizziness, vomiting, headache, and loss of consciousness.

6. Lead

Lead is typically a heavy metal that is inside the car exhaust. It is usually emitted in several petrol engines. It can enter your body through inhalation, absorption through the skin, and ingestion. If you inhale lead, it enters your body and accumulates in the blood and soft tissues.

This heavy metal also affects the lungs and the liver, nervous, cardiovascular, and reproductive systems. More effects include; loss of concentration and memory elapse, frequent joint and muscle pain.

Young children and newborns are prone to low amounts of lead. The metal is a neurotoxicant and may affect the growth of small children leading to hyperactivity, learning disabilities, mental retardation, and impaired memory.

Is It Bad If You Spill Gas on Grass, Plants, and Insects?

Yes, it is bad if you spill gas on plants, grass, and insects. Gasoline and petrol usually kill grass and even plants. Mostly, leaf burns start the first 20mins equivalently after spilling the gas. Your plants, grass, and insects will die without hope of saving them. Even if your drain the gas, the effect will be irreversible.

Grass-like Bermuda and turfgrasses usually dehydrate when you spill gas on them. Moreover, the gases may kill soil microbes they come in contact with. You may also find many soil microbes migrating to the damaged soil.

If you spill gas in the soil, it may stay in that soil for an extended period If it’s clay soil.

The positive effect is that the gas may move through the soil, and the grass may cover it. But the bad news is that the gas may flow to the groundwater and pollute it, especially if it’s water for consumption.

Regarding insects, the gas usually interferes with their breathing system and pollination and even kills them.

So, if you notice spilled gas on grass, plants, or insects, ensure you flash it off immediately. If you wait longer, the grass and plants will die. Other options are to remove the damaged grass and plants completely and dig out the contaminated soil at a depth of 4 inches.

After that, get enriched soil and fill it out on that hole. Then sprinkle lay sod or grass seed and water the place. It would be best if you watered that area twice a week until the plants were established.

What Are the Other Negative Effects of Car Exhaust on Grass, Plants, and Insect?

Here are the negative effects of car exhaust on grass, plants, and insects. Take a look.

  • Car exhausts reduce the lifespan of plants, grass, and insects by subjecting them to harsh conditions. They also interfere with the breathing system of insects.
  • Affects insects’ process of pollination.
  • Inhibit the growth of plants and grass.
  • Contaminates soil containing microbes that are essential for the growth of plants and grass.

What Other Environmental Damage Can Car Exhaust Impact Bees, Wasps, Bed bugs, Mice, Rats, and Moles?

Car exhaust usually makes it hard for pollinators to stand and smell flowers. Since car exhaust usually forms smog, it usually makes it difficult for insects like bees, wasps, and butterflies to smell flowers for them to pollinate.

Nitrogen oxides in car exhaust usually react with floral scents causing reduced pollination.

The bad smell also puts off moths, mice, rats, bed bugs, and moles away from the affected environment. And since insects help keep our planet alive by pollinating, breaking down waste, moving seeds, and cycling nutrients, the environment needs to be clean and smelling fresh.

An equivalent of 90% of flowering plants needs the assistance of pollinators to reproduce most food crops. So, there is a need to control the environmental damage being caused by exhaust so that we don’t end up experiencing shortages.

Should You Generally Park Your Car Away from Grass, Plants, Bees, and Bugs?

You can park your car close to grass, plants, and insects if you practice caution. If you drive diesel engine-powered vehicles, park your car away from grass, plants, and bees. They emit huge amounts of exhaust; hence it won’t be good for you to take that risk.

Here are some of the precautions you can follow to reduce car exhaust. Have a look.

Drive Less

Try to reduce the number of miles you drive. It will help reduce car exhaust from your car. If you can, try biking or walking to your destination. When traveling for long distances, try using a train or bus.

Limit Idling

An idling car will get zero miles to the gallon. While it is said that cars do not need to warm up and restarting your car does not utilize excess fuel rather than allowing it to run, it’s usually true because restarting your car does not cause wear-outs on the starter and various parts.

Maintain Your Car

It doesn’t matter what you drive. You can always ensure your vehicle is clean and efficient every time you use it. Ensure it is in good repair and always follow your owner’s manual. In addition, ensure you plan for regular oil changes and other emerging maintenance.

Current cars usually consist of very complex emission regulations to keep them performing as clean as possible. If any of the regulators malfunction, your car will emit more exhaust than it should.

A check engine light on the dashboard will help you know if your car is functioning as designed and needs any maintenance or repairs.

Ensure your tires are well inflated to help your car run efficiently and burn less fuel.

Drive Smarter

How you drive your car usually influences the pollution or exhaust of the car. Always considering the speed limit is one way of reducing exhaust from your car.

Drive slowly to make you burn less fuel hence reducing excess exhaust. Also, starting your car from a complete stop burns excess fuel and emits more exhaust.

You can accelerate gradually to burn less fuel. Try to know the road ahead and limit racing from red light to red light. Always look forward to maintaining a steady speed and fewer stops while driving.

Always Drive a Clean Car

It’s good you drive an efficient vehicle that meets your needs. Because Washington adopted clean car standards, today, most traditional gasoline cars present in Washington areas run cleaner.

Hybrid, electric, and compact fuel-efficient cars can only meet some of the driver’s requirements, but driving the most productive car reduces pollution and saves you some coins.

Here are also some precautions to follow while using gas or car oil to avoid killing insects and plants; Don’t use it to:

  • Kill weeds or plants
  • Start fire
  • Destroy ants

Store your gasoline and petrol safely to avoid any accidents and injuries.


Some gases in car exhaust kill your grass, plants, and insects. They also destroy the microbes that the plants and grass get in touch with.

Always follow the guidelines provided in this article while using your car to reduce the emission of excess car exhaust and save our grass, plants, and insects.

You can switch to a more environmentally-friendly car to help reduce harmful emissions and keep the environment safe for everyone.


Reducing Air Pollution from Cars

Will Gasoline Kill Grass?

Stay Safe, don’t do These 3Things with Gasoline in your Yard

Does Excess Car Exhaust Damage Gardens?

What are the Health Effects of Exhaust Emissions?