Why should I buy a performance exhaust system?
- Serious horsepower and torque gains
- Distinctive, growling exhaust tone
- Improved fuel economy
Horsepower and torque
In case you skipped out on Auto Shop back in high school, AutoAnything is here to give you a quick lesson on the mysterious inner-workings of your engine’s cylinders. Without cylinders, your vehicle could not drive around, unless you could convince your friends to lend you their backs and push you all over town. That’s because the majority of your horsepower is generated right there in your cylinders through a fairly straightforward process, called combustion.
First, the cylinder sucks a mixture of oxygen and fuel (gasoline or diesel) into its chamber, where it is then ignited by a spark plug or glow stick. These three ingredients create a controlled explosion, or combustion, which generates both energy and waste gases. That energy transforms into wheel-turning torque to propel you down the road, but the exhaust is a cloud of useless particles that would clog up your engine if left to linger in the piston chamber.
That’s where the exhaust system comes into action. The spent gases are exhaled, traveling out of the engine through your exhaust manifold, and they eventually exit out the back of your vehicle. The faster the exhaust gets out of the way, the easier it is for your engine to breathe, which means more horsepower, torque and fun behind the wheel.
The problem with stock exhaust systems is that they are not optimized for the best possible flow. Auto manufacturers spend much more time thinking about the shape and placement of your air vents than they do planning your exhaust pipes. What’s the result of their neglect? Your motor has to work harder during combustion, which robs you of valuable horsepower, torque and fuel economy. A performance exhaust system will harness the potential power that your engine is wasting because of its inefficient stock exhaust. AutoAnything’s quick-installing, bolt-on performance exhaust systems improve your power by:
- Drastically reducing restrictions in your pipes
- Increasing the puny diameter of stock pipes
- Improving engine scavenging
Just as the word implies, a restriction in your exhaust system is anything that slows the continuous flow of spent gases from your engine to your tailpipe. Poorly bent pipes are the leading cause of power-robbing restrictions. In order to cut corners wherever they can, auto manufactures use a second-rate bending technique known as “press” or “crush” bending.
This type of bending is quick and easy for the manufacturers, but it causes massive restrictions in your pipes because it reduces the pipe’s diameter. This may not sound all that dramatic, but picture this: what happens when a busy freeway goes from 5 lanes down to 2? Horrific gridlock! The same thing happens with your exhaust. The waste gases slow down when they hit a press bend, which clogs up the whole system. In automotive lingo, this gas traffic problem is called back pressure.
There is, however, a more efficient way to form an exhaust system for your vehicle. Rather than using low-tech “press” bending methods, performance exhaust systems use a state-of-the-art mandrel bending process. When a pipe is bent using a mandrel method, a flexible rod is fitted inside the piece of pipe. This bendable insert stops the pipe from changing diameter during the bending process. What makes mandrel bending so much better? This consistent diameter is like an express super-highway for your exhaust, eliminating the restrictions in stock systems that steal precious power and torque.
Besides how your pipes are bent, their actual size affects how much horsepower your engine can deliver to your power-hungry tires. Always looking to cut costs, auto manufacturers often skimp on the exhaust, using piping that’s barely bigger than a straw. While this might shave a few bucks off the sticker price, it diminishes your overall horsepower and torque.
With a performance exhaust system, you get larger pipes that allow the maximum amount of exhaust to flow through. This rapid release of your spent gases dramatically improves your system’s overall efficiency, giving a high-octane boost to your vehicle.
Now, the diameter will vary greatly based on your engine size and type. A cat back exhaust system for a Honda will be significantly smaller than a diesel exhaust system for a Dodge Ram 3500. But, bigger is not always better. A good performance exhaust system’s tubing is properly sized and tested for your particular vehicle.
AutoAnything wants to let you in on a little-known secret: performance exhaust systems not only provide a faster escape route for your spent gases, they’re also tuned to pull along straggling fumes through the pipes. That’s right; our bolt-on performance exhaust systems greatly improve engine scavenging. Engine scavenging is a lot like an internal exhaust siphon. As the exhaust gases shoot down an unrestricted, properly sized exhaust pipe, they leave a vacuum in their wake. This vacuum sucks the exhaust out of the next cylinder, and each new burst of fumes creates its own vacuum, so the process repeats itself until you shut-off your vehicle.
What do you get when you mix radically-reduced restrictions, properly-sized piping and excellent engine scavenging? A roaring performance exhaust system that delivers full-throttle horsepower throughout the RPM range. You can expect to see real gains of up to 25 extra horsepower coursing through your engine, as well as massive torque increases up to 60 ft lbs! Even more gains can be seen if your vehicle uses forced-induction to create horsepower and torque: Banks turbo kits were put together by Gale Banks to provide an all-in-one solution for turbo diesel trucks that don’t just need high performance, they need Banks performance.
With a performance exhaust system, you not only feel the power every time your foot hits the peddle, but you also hear it thundering and rolling around you. Nothing quite improves your vehicle’s presence as a throaty, rumbling exhaust system. When you hear each and every piston firing in rapid succession, you truly comprehend the unbridled force lurking under your hood. Stock exhaust systems try to hold back your engine’s naturally forceful tone with thick-walled exhaust manifolds and mufflers that stifle your vehicle’s rich resonance, rather than enhance it. But, a performance exhaust from companies like Magnaflow, Borla and DC Sport rips away the sound restraints.
When it comes to the sound of your vehicle, the muffler has the most impact. Of course, you can tell by its name that a muffler’s job is to dampen the sounds pouring out of your tailpipes. Without a muffler, your vehicle would sound like a string of M80 firecrackers exploding in a metal trashcan. On the other hand, a stock muffler suppresses the naturally aggressive rumble of a strong engine to a spineless wimper. Take control of the tone of your vehicle with a performance exhaust system for the perfect balance of sound and suppression. AutoAnything’s Cat back exhaust systems come with mufflers that range from a deep guttural roll to a warm poppy purr.
Most exhaust manufacturers, such as Flowmaster and Magnaflow, offer a range of tone to choose from. That way, you can pick the perfect volume for your vehicle.
Unless you’ve got your own oil derrick churning out barrels of Texas Tea in your backyard, chances are you too are feeling the pinch at the pump due to the rising costs of gasoline. While it might sound too good to be true that you can get better fuel economy from a performance exhaust system along with serious power boosts, we’re not pulling your leg. That’s because the same overall improvements that lead to greater performance are improving your engine’s overall efficiency.
You see, when the exhaust is flowing unrestricted down wider pipes with the right amount of vacuum left behind to keep the cycle running smoothly, your cylinders empty themselves of more and more waste gases. And when there are fewer impurities in the cylinder, your mixture of gas and oxygen burns purer, giving you greater horsepower without having to have a serious lead foot. These straightforward improvements in efficiency from a performance exhaust system can result in around a 1 or 2% overall increase in fuel economy, saving you big every time the fuel gauge in your vehicle starts creeping down towards “E.” For even more tips on getting the most bang from your fuel buck, check out our Gas Saving Devices Guide.
Understanding the anatomy of an exhaust system
Unless you spend a lot of time crawling around under greasy chassis, the image of an exhaust system is probably just that of the short pipe sticking out from the rear of your vehicle. But that stubby bit of pipe is merely the tip of the exhaust iceberg. Thankfully, AutoAnything is here to explain the various parts of your exhaust, starting at the engine and moving backwards.
Exhaust Manifold & Headers
The starting blocks for your exhaust flow. An exhaust manifold bolts onto the head of your engine, directly over the cylinders. Each cylinder gets its own piece of pipe, and each of these disparate pipes joins together to form a single exit point, which connects to the head pipe. Depending on the size of your engine, you may have one or two exhaust manifolds. V-8 and V-6 engines have two because there are cylinders on both sides of the engine.
Headers are aftermarket performance replacements for clunky, cast-iron exhaust manifolds. They are mandrel bent for superior flow, and are finished with special coatings that reduce heat in your engine compartment.
Constituting the first section of piping, head pipes have the all important job of linking the exhaust headers to the mufflers. In between that distance, the head pipe is interrupted by the catalytic converter. Depending on the automobile, head pipes generally do not have a lot of bends, so they can run straight back to the muffler.
While a catalytic converter looks a lot like a muffler, it performs quite a different function in your exhaust system. Its job is to stop excess hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides from exiting your vehicle and entering the atmosphere. To curtail these pollutants, a catalytic converter converts these dangerous particles into harmless elements.
How does it perform this pollution prestidigitation? A catalytic converter is filled with ceramic honeycomb or ceramic beads that are coated in platinum and palladium. When hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides run into this treated ceramic, a chemical reaction occurs, transforming them into carbon dioxide (the good oxide), nitrogen, oxygen and water vapor. Once changed, the exhaust flows on until it reaches the muffler.
Just as a catalytic converter filters out chemicals that are harmful for your lungs, mufflers protects your ears from noise pollution. If you have ever heard an engine running without a muffler, you know that it sounds like a burst from a WWI-era German machine gun shooting into an iron door. Not pleasant! The muffler’s job is to turn down the volume of your exhaust a few notches. It does this by channeling the flow of spent gases through a series of chambers, which cause the sound waves to bounce into each other and, eventually, cancel each other out.
Some mufflers dampen more noise than others, and performance exhaust mufflers are tuned to enhance the natural rumble of your exhaust. Some mufflers have a splitter at their backside that converts a single head pipe into dual exiting tailpipes, giving the cars, trucks and SUVs the appearance of a dual exhaust. True dual exhausts, though, have two mufflers – one for each exhaust manifold.
The last stretch of piping that runs from the muffler to the back, or side, of your vehicle is called the tailpipe. Usually, these pipes have the most bends because they have to curve up and over your rear axle. Better performance exhaust systems will finish their tailpipes with chrome tips, which add a brilliant touch to your vehicle’s expression. Of course, you can easily equip your exhaust with a chrome tip, which come in a host of shapes, including round, square and oval.
Learning About AutoAnything’s Different Performance Exhaust Systems
Here at AutoAnything, we understand that variety is the spice of life. That’s why we carry an enormous and varying selection of performance exhaust systems. From ceramic coated headers to dual-exiting diesel exhausts, we have a system just for you. Check these out:
- Single Exit Cat back Exhaust
- Dual Exit Cat back Exhaust
- Performance Diesel Exhaust
Did you know?
Contrary to how it’s spelled, Cat back does not refer to the spine of a fury feline. Cat back, sometimes called Catalyst Back, means that the exhaust system comes with all the replacement parts you need from after the catalytic converter back to the tailpipe. That includes a bit of head piping, muffler(s), tailpipe(s) and mounting gear. The catalytic converter must stay in the system in order for your vehicle to remain street legal.
Single Exit Cat back Exhaust
The standard upgrade in our arsenal of roaring cat back exhausts. You get:
- Massive power, torque and fuel economy gains over stock systems.
- Your choice between a traditional rear exit, or a side exit.
- No-weld, bolt-on installation.
- A slick stainless steel tip on most systems.
- Complete mounting gear for a painless, driveway installation.
Dual Exit Cat back Exhaust
- Intense horsepower and torque improvements that dwarf what your stock system delivers.
- Two exit point options- straight out the back or out the sides, behind the rear wheels.
- Bolt-on installation that requires NO welding.
- Polished chrome tips on most systems.
- All the mounting hardware you need for a direct replacement installation.
Performance Diesel Exhaust
- Gargantuan horsepower boosts and intense torque increases for better towing, passing and hill-climbing.
- Cooler exhaust gas temperatures that let you push your motor hard with a greatly reduced risk of overheating.
- Full-size piping that’s designed for serious workhorse motors.
- Multiple pipe options, including: single or dual pipes, and rear or side exiting.
- All the mounting gear you’ll need for the easy, bolt-on installation.
- Radical spikes to your horsepower and torque.
- Greatly reduced temperatures under the hood.
- Your choice of finishes ranging from brilliantly polished nickel to heavy-duty titanium ceramic plating.
- Direct bolt-on installation that replaces factory-installed, restrictive, rusty exhaust manifolds.
- Complete hardware kit to mount your headers snuggly to your motor.
Advice on what to consider when selecting your performance exhaust
The best decisions are informed decisions, and AutoAnything is here to arm you with all the tips, hints and expert advice you’ll need to choose the right performance exhaust system for your vehicle. We’ve done all the leg work of researching and analyzing the oceans of exhaust information for you, and have broken it down into these easy-to-digest categories:
- Types of Metal
- Pipe Sizes
- Smog Certification
Types of Metal
All of the performance exhaust systems that AutoAnything carries are crafted from steel because of its unrivaled resistance to rust, corrosion and deterioration. However, there are varying grades of steel that offer different degrees of durability. Since you have more important things to do with your time than research metallurgical properties, we’ve mined all the data, hammered out the important facts and eliminated the unimportant slag.
Aluminized Steel (Good)
For the same brilliant look of aluminum without the extra costs and maintenance, aluminized steel is the way to go. Heavy-duty steel piping is hot-dipped in a special blend of aluminum-silicon alloy, which infuses the original steel with optimum corrosion resistance. For an aluminized steel system, turn to Flowmaster, Magnaflow or Edelbrock.
409-L Stainless Steel (Better)
As the cost-effective alternative to 304 stainless, 409-L is a low carbon steel with greater strength, durability and corrosion resistance than the vast majority of stock exhaust systems. Go with Bully Dog or Gibson for a durable 409-L exhaust system.
304 Stainless Steel (Best)
Infused with the highest concentration of chromium and nickel, 304 stainless steel delivers by far the ultimate in corrosion resistance, rust resistance and durability. When you want the best metal on the street, turn to Corsa, Borla, Dynatech and Volant.
Size does matter when you’re deciding which performance exhaust system is right for your vehicle. If the pipe is too narrow, it creates a lot of restriction that robs you of horsepower,torque and fuel economy. On the other hand, piping that is too large for you motor will hamper engine scavenging, which will also slow you down. Follow these handy charts to decide which pipe diameter is right for your vehicle.
- Stock Horsepower Rating
- Pipe Size
- Up to 100hp
- 2″ diameter
- Up to 160hp
- 2.5″ diameter
- Up to 200hp
- 3″ diameter
- 200hp +
- 3.5″ diameter
- Stock Horsepower Rating
- Pipe Size
- Up to 450hp
- 4″ diameter
- Up to 550hp
- 5″ diameter
- Above 550hp
- 6″ diameter
Sure, releasing 20 or 30 extra horses from your engine is a big gain, but 40 or 60 bucking stallions of power is twice as nice. When a performance exhaust system joins forces with performance exhaust headers, the resulting reaction under your hood is a potent marriage of brute strength and outstanding efficiency. How does that affect you? A double dose of horsepower, torque and fuel economy gains. Add to that the even meaner guttural growl that’ll be rolling out from your vehicle, and it just makes sense to replace your clunky factory-installed exhaust manifold with high-performance headers.
Auto manufacturers cut corners where they can, and exhaust manifolds are a glaring example of design neglect. This disregard is unfortunate because the exhaust manifold is the all-important first step in the journey your exhaust makes from thecylinders out into the atmosphere. When you replace your restrictive manifold with racecar-inspired headers, your vehicle will breathe easier, scavenge exhaust better, and run at cooler temperatures. Not to mention that your engine compartment will look like the inside of a million-dollar NASCAR.
While exhaust headers are wrought from the same basic types of steel (304 and 409-L) as cat back exhaust systems, they also have special finishes to withstand the extreme temperatures created by the engine. There are a number of different coatings ranging from the mild to the wild.
Nickel-Chrome Plated (Good)
Mild-duty steel tubing with nickel-chrome plating for extended durability and longer life. The bright shine will naturally discolor after regular usage. Check out the chrome exhaust headers from JBA Headers, Doug Thorley Headers or Bassani.
409 Stainless Steel (Better)
Heavy-duty stainless steel tubing that’s left uncoated, yet is highly durable and resistant to corrosion. Like the Nickel-Chrome Plated finish, 409 stainless steel will eventually discolor from normal usage. To get your hands on stainless steel headers, check out Dynatech, JBA Headers, DC Sport, Gibson Headers or Borla.
Ceramic Coating (Best)
Silver ceramic coating gives excellent thermal protection and corrosion resistance. It reduces under-the-hood temperatures and has a bright, long-lasting shine. Though professional-grade, ceramic coatings are used by most exhaust headers companies, including JBA Headers, Pacesetter, Doug Thorley Headers, DC Sport, Gibson Headers, Bassani and Edelbrock.
Mounting Performance Exhaust Systems
The biggest misconception about performance exhaust systems may be that they are extremely difficult to install, but nothing could be farther from the truth. You don’t need a degree in welding to bolt these systems onto your rig. In fact, you don’t even need a soldering gun.
Your performance exhaust will arrive in multiple sections that, once fitted together, form your complete system. The pipes are slightly tapered at the end, which allows you to just slide the different pieces together. To prevent any exhaust from leaking out of these joints, your kit will include easy-to-use pipe clamps that fuse the sections. After you finish assembling the exhaust system, all you have to do is swap out the old pipes with the new ones. In most cars, trucks and SUVs, the factory-installed pipes will have to be cut away from the catalytic converter using a reciprocating saw or hacksaw. Once the old pipes are off and in the garbage, your new performance tubes are ready to move in. Luckily, our performance exhaust systems use factory-style hanging hardware, so you won’t have to modify your undercarriage to install your new pipes.
If an engine ran perfectly, the only byproducts floating around in its exhaust would be a bit of nitrogen, some carbon dioxide and water vapor. While combustion has been greatly improved since the days of the Ford Model-T, it has not yet reached that level of complete efficiency. As such, those puffs of fumes that shoot out of our tailpipes contain a noxious slurry of harmful elements, including carbon monoxide, hydrogen, unburned fuel, hydrocarbons, and traces of aldehydes, alcohols, ketones, phenols, acids, nitrogen oxides and carbon. Since these elements have the potential to wreak serious, irreparable havoc on the planet’s atmosphere, your factory-installed exhaust system is designed to filter out as many pollutants as possible.
Because auto emissions affect us all, there are laws on the books that dictate just how much vaporized waste can roll out of your tailpipe. In order to ensure that cars, trucks, SUVs and vans are in compliance with these laws, they have to pass a smog test every couple of years. However, there is no single federal standard for acceptable emissions levels. Thanks to the Tenth Amendment of the constitution, each state in the USA has the authority to determine its own acceptable auto emission levels. What’s good in Wyoming may not fly in Delaware.
While there is no single smog canon, there is a sure fire test for performance exhaust manufacturers to know if their systems will be legal throughout the Union—does it pass in California? California is known for its rigid smog requirements. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is a governor-appointed panel of scientists, lawyers and business men and women that sets the bar for emissions levels. California has the most ambitious emissions controls in the nation. Therefore, if an exhaust system can pass in California, it can pass anywhere else. When an exhaust system, or any performance part, claims to be “50 state street legal,” it means that the product has been tuned and tested to meet California’s strict smogrequirements.
Some performance exhaust systems are designed for “off-road” use. This means that these particular systems are not designed to pass smog testing, and are not legal for street use. There are exceptions to the rules, though. In California, for example, any vehicle that is 30 make-years old or older is exempt from smog certification. Check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (or its equivalent agency) for the laws of your land. When equipping an off-road auto, pick up an exhaust system by BD Diesel, Heartthrob, MBRP, Dynatech or Bully Dog.
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