Is it really possible to "disable" a car with a banana?

In the original Beverly Hills Cop, Axel Foley sabotages an unmarked police car by inserting a banana into its tailpipe. According to what happens in the movie, it looks like doing so causes the car to stall as soon as it starts.

Does that really happen? Does the banana truly “disable the unit” (to use the phrasing spoken by the frustrated Police Chief). I’d think it would be more likely that you’d kill the occupants by carbon monoxide poisoning.


Mythbusters did this. Didn’t work, everything they tried to plug the pipe with got blown right out.

Theoretically, if you block the exhaust you can stop a car from running. Car engines need to “breathe”. They suck in air, combine it with gasoline, and blow the burnt gases out the exhaust. If the exhaust is blocked, the gases can’t vent, and the combustion chamber will still be full during the suck part of the cycle and the engine won’t be able to shove more air and gas into the cylinder. In short, blocking the exhaust will stop the engine from running.

The problem with a banana is that the pressure that builds up inside the exhaust is sufficient to simply blast the banana out the tailpipe. Your banana plug won’t stop a car from running.

Cecil’s take on the subject:

Good work pat. I think if you could get something to stick, it would work.

Even if you managed to plug it up with something that didn’t get blown out, the exhaust system could leak, or you could blow apart a joint somewhere in it, and the pressure wouldn’t build up enough.

It still seems doubtful, but in Axel Foley’s defense, he does stick three up the tailpipe (video link).

And once you’ve caught the potential car-staller, you eat the banana, thereby disarmin’ him.

Can’t say about a car, but I have seen it done with a motorcycle.

In high school one of the younger neighbor kids was sitting on his 80cc yamaha dirt bike and talking to us as it idled. The tail pipe on this was about as narrow as a finger. My older brother stuck his finger in the tailpipe to plug it and it died pretty quickly (note: the bike had not been running long enough for the pipe to be very hot).

My sister’s Honda Accord did once stall from a tailpipe obstruction. Years ago, the snow plow buried her car, when we finally dug the car out and she drove it away, I saw icy snow firmly wedged into the exhaust pipe.* I thought, “If Beverly Hill’s Cop is accurate, she should be stalling right about – chugga chugga sputter – yep, right about now.” I had to melt it free with boiling water before the car would start again. `Course, between Mythbusters and Cecil, no one believes that you can stop a car by plugging the tailpipe, but firmly packed frozen snow will do it, if you have some handy.

*I am not interested in any similarity between the described scenario and a porno anyone has seen – this is my sister we’re talking about here.

What if he has a pointed stick?

It can be done with a hard rubber buttplug and a rubber mallet.

Or so I’ve been told.

Just fix the damn thing and leave my private life out of it.

Thanks to all.

I guess I missed that Mythbusters (and Cecil’s take on it, too).

This brings up something about bananas.

I have seen a video of a LN2 dipped banana be used to hammer a nail. I have also seen LN2 dipped flowers shatter like glass when struck. Are the ‘vegetable tissues’, ie. the banana flesh and the flower all that much different from each other (moisture content, fibrous matter, etc.) to have such differing mechanical properties?

In the world of R/C, to shut down engines, we block the tailpipe with our fingers (some guys pinch the fuel line, but this starves 2-strokers of the oil and they run lean. This parentheses comment was added because the SDMB is full of all types).

So, blocking a tailpipe will shut 'er down, but I guess it takes more than some bananas.

I’ve always heard that a potato is the way to go, providing the potato is of a size that will permit its insertion in the tail pipe. I’ve never seen it done, by the way.

Must cars now come from the factory with a solid, welded exhaust system. Don’t think they are going to blow apart. Once clamped replacement parts are added, maybe, maybe not.

I’m not gonna fall for th****e bannana in the tailpipe.

A potato is what we used in high school. Being too big was not a problem, but rather in fact was preferable, because you could cram it in tight and the excess area just trimmed away.

It seemed to work. We did it to the shop teacher’s pickup, and the next day it was at the mechanic’s, because it had died and he couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it. Then the next day after that, he seemed in a piss-poor mood. We did it to the car of a student at a rival high school, and I heard that it worked. However, in both cases, I did not actually see it work with my own eyes.

Umm no. Welding costs money. Cars are built as cheap as possible. Factory systems are always clamped in my experience, replacements may be welded.