Best Exhaust Systems: Achieve Raw Power and Torque
Upgrade the sound, look, and performance of your vehicle with these exhaust systems
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PUBLISHED ON November 5, 2019
If you need to replace your exhaust system or want a brand new one to boost your vehicle’s performance, we’ve got you covered. The best exhausts can increase peak power by reducing back pressure in the exhaust system. They can also be used to increase the amount of noise from your car, improving its style as well.
- Best OverallMagnaFlow Stainless Steel Performance Exhaust System KitSummarySummary
A sleek black muffler that stands out on your vehicle and is designed with stainless steel. Works great for Jeep Wrangler JK models.ProsPros
The black coating provides enhanced protection to the system. It bolts on for easier installation and produces a rich, smooth tone.ConsCons
The sound feels like it could be deeper and louder, but it also can be too loud in the interior of certain cabs.
- Best ValueMBRP Cat-Back, Single Side Exit Exhaust SystemSummarySummary
A modern-looking exhaust system developed from heavy-gauge aluminized steel. Designed for trucks and SUVs.ProsPros
Installation is simple and quick. It produces a low grumble that isn’t too loud, but it can still be quite throaty when you hit the accelerator.ConsCons
You may get a droning noise inside the cab, and the pipe may be difficult to notice as it is a bit short.
- Honorable MentionBorla ATAK Stainless Steel Aggressive Cat-Back Exhaust SystemSummarySummary
Borla understands vehicles, and its stainless steel cat-back exhaust for Chevy Camaros is impressive and loud.ProsPros
It gives your vehicle a sporty and aggressive look and sound. The straight-through and multi-core technology unleash more horsepower, and increased exhaust velocity adds power and improves fuel economy.ConsCons
It is quite expensive as it is designed for sports cars, it could be a bit louder, and the manual can be a hassle to understand.
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Benefits of Exhaust Systems
- Replace a worn or faulty system. If your stock exhaust system has seen better days, it’s time to replace it with a new one. A leaky system emits dangerous gases that you do not want to breathe.
- Boost performance. A new aftermarket exhaust system can reduce backpressure, which automatically puts less pressure on your motor. Less pressure boosts performance and provides better fuel economy.
- Better sound. A new exhaust system can give you a better sound from your engine. This improves the sportiness of your ride and enhances your style.
Types of Exhaust Systems
This is the type of exhaust that connects to the system after the last catalytic converter, another key component of the exhaust system. In general, this type of system consists of a muffler, a resonator, and a rear tailpipe. It may also include an X-pipe, a Y-pipe, or an H-pipe and a mid-pipe. Use this system if you do not need or want to replace the catalytic converter.
These are systems that use one exhaust pipe to transfer all of the exhaust gases out from the exhaust manifolds to the rear of the vehicle and into the open air. Basically, the system consists of a single pipe that transfers the gases and attach on one side of the vehicle. These systems are in contrast to a dual exhaust, which has two pipes that transfer the gases.
These systems transfer exhaust gases from the outlet of a turbocharger to the rear of the vehicle and into the atmosphere. People use these systems primarily on performance cars—cars that have turbochargers on the engine. Together the exhaust system, turbocharger, and other devices produce more power.
This company was founded in 1981 in Southern California, where it focuses on exhaust systems for hot rods and muscle cars. It continues to engineer and produce its exhaust components in Oceanside, Calif. today at a 280,000-square foot plant. Check out the Stainless Steel Performance Exhaust System Kit and the Performance Exhaust Kit they make.
Alex Borla started the company in the 1970s to create exhaust systems that would endure the harsh elements of winter. Borla began working on cars like Rolls Royce, Porsche, and Volkswagen in New York City. Eventually, the company moved to California, where it garnered the attention of the Big Three automakers: Ford, GM, and Chrysler. Today, Borla is located in Johnson City, Tenn. It makes the Cat-Back "S-Type" System Exhaust, the Borla 40359 Muffler, and Rear Section Exhaust System Kit, among others.
MBRP began making exhaust systems almost 20 years ago. Its first product was The Eliminator, the best-selling performance snowmobile muffler. It now hand-welds each exhaust in its Huntsville, Ontario, Canada manufacturing plant. Discover MBRP’s 3" Cat Back, Single Side Exit Exhaust System and its custom O.D. Dual Wall Angled Exhaust Tip.
Exhaust System Pricing
- $100-$300. Buyers will find basic exhaust systems here that include pipes and clamps for single exhaust systems. The muffler is not necessarily included. Parts are made of steel or aluminized steel.
- $300-$500. You’ll find catback and side systems for this price. Most are single exhaust system, although you may find some dual exhaust systems. They are made of stainless steel and aluminized steel. Kits will include pipes and clamps but may or may not include a muffler.
- $500-$5,000. Expect to pay this much for top brands like Borla, Corsa and Flowmaster. Many sports cars and European model cars are included this range, which includes specialized and “loudmouth” exhaust systems.
The number one attribute of these exhaust systems is that they are constructed of stainless steel or a combination of stainless steel and aluminized steel. This makes the entire system much less prone to rust and corrosion compared to exhaust systems of the past. These materials also look great and polish up well if they are exposed to salt, moisture, dirt, and grime.
If you have some basic tools, like a hacksaw (for removing the old parts) and socket wrenches, you can install your new exhaust system yourself and save money. Most pipes are pre-bent to fit your vehicle so you don’t need for heating or welding any pipes or for mandrel bends. Carefully follow the instructions after removing the old system and you’ll save money.
Improved Performance and Sound
A new exhaust system can mean reduced backpressure. Less pressure gives you power gains and better fuel economy. A new system can also give you the sound that you prefer from your engine. It may reduce unpleasant noise or it may give you a more guttural, throaty sound if you prefer.
- Fit. Make certain the exhaust system you want to order will fit your vehicle. Research the specifications regarding the model and year of the vehicle the system is made for, the engine size, and the type of exhaust, such as dual vs. single, side, or catback.
- Price. You can spend thousands on an exhaust system and as little as $100. Know what you’re getting for your money. You may find that a $100 system does the job very well or that it’s better to spend a few more dollars to get a system that you’ll be happy with.
- Type of system. For example, a catback system is equipment only back from the catalytic converter, not the entire system. On the other hand, some systems cover everything including the pipes that bolt onto the engine, hangers, the muffler, the mid and tailpipes.
Best Exhaust System Reviews & Recommendations 2020
Best Overall: MagnaFlow Stainless Steel Performance Exhaust System Kit
Because it features a straight-through design, this MagnaFlow performance exhaust system can provide more power and better sound. The system is made of stainless steel and has mandrel bent tubing. Parts are made with precision CNC robotic manufacturing techniques.
The parts are jet black, which gives your vehicle style and class. The black coating also provides improved protection against rust, corrosion, and salt. Parts bolt on easily and provide smooth, rich tone. The system fits great on the Jeep Wrangler JK.
The tone is deep and rich for some people but may be too loud for others. On the other hand, the tone may not be deep and loud enough for you.
Best Value: MBRP Cat Back, Single Side Exit Exhaust System
This contemporary-looking exhaust system will add class to your truck or SUV. It is “bolt-on,” so there’s no welding, cutting, or bending involved to install it. Users report that it’s fast to install, about an hour, and it’s a great fit. The system is made from aluminized steel, which gives it a nice look and durability.
The sound this system produces is a low “grumble,” which isn’t overly loud on idle but lets others know you're driving a truck. On acceleration, the sound is quite throaty.
While the sound is good overall, some drivers have reported a slight drone inside the cab. Others wish the pipe would be longer off the back end because it is too difficult to notice.
Honorable Mention: Borla ATAK Stainless Steel Aggressive Cat-Back Exhaust System
From premier manufacturer Borla, this system is made of beautiful stainless steel that is sure to impress. It produces a loud exhaust sound that will definitely get people’s attention.
The look is aggressive as well as the sound, which will make your Chevy Camaro remain at the top of the group of attractive sportscars. This system has multi-core and straight-through technology which provides more horsepower and punch. The increased exhaust velocity also delivers more power and improves fuel economy as well.
Keep in mind that Borla designs and manufactures this exhaust system for sports cars, so it is more expensive than those designed for passenger cars and trucks. Some drivers would like the system to be louder, while others state that the instructions are not easy to understand.
- Make sure the exhaust system you are looking at will fit your specific vehicle. If you aren’t sure, consult with the manufacturer to see if it has a vehicle sizing chart.
- Upgrade your exhaust system if you are looking to increase your fuel economy, change how your vehicle sounds, or get a bit more horsepower out of the car.
- If you are swapping out the exhaust system, consider getting a new air intake as well. The combination will increase fuel economy and give you more horsepower.
Q: What does cat-back mean?
A: It is the section of the exhaust system that attaches after the last catalytic converter in the system. A cat-back system is generally designed with a rear pipe, a resonator, and a muffler. But, depending on the make and model, it can also include a mid-pipe, X-pipe, H-pipe or Y-pipe.
Q: What is the difference between stainless steel and an aluminium exhaust system?
A: Aside from their looks, there isn’t much difference between the two, especially when it comes to performance. However, stainless steel is designed to withstand rust and corrosion more than aluminum. Plus, stainless steel often looks better and can be polished to a certain degree to stand out.
Q: Will a new exhaust void my vehicle’s warranty?
A: In most cases, no. However, if the system causes damage to any of the other components of the vehicle, then yes, the warranty may be voided. Unless you make larger and more obtrusive upgrades to your system, the warranty should be fine.
For a louder sound and improved engine performance, consider the MagnaFlow Stainless Steel Performance Exhaust System Kit. Or you can save a bit of cash and get the MBRP Cat-Back, Single Side Exit Exhaust System for its simple design and throaty rumble.