You feel a pang of pity for the Chevy Cavalier driving through downtown with its muffler tinging and sparking as it drags along the pavement. At least, until it belches exhaust annoyingly loud as it accelerates from the stoplight. But it’s even worse when it’s YOUR car that’s embarrassingly loud, drawing stares.
Replacing your muffler or complete exhaust system used to be expected every three to five years. Luckily, more often than not today, installing aftermarket exhaust systems is usually to enhance your car’s sound and performance rather than to correct a safety issue like a dragging tailpipe.
Whether you’re in the driver’s seat of a high-end sports car or a low-displacement subcompact, you want it to sound good. The last thing you want people to think as you drive away is that your car sounds eerily similar to their grandmother’s Singer sewing machine. Or a marble in a coffee can. Sadly, that’s all too common on modern cars.
If you’re sick of the bland drone from your commuter car, cruising at 65mph on the interstate, or if it’s time to change out a rusty old muffler, you have choices. Give your car’s exhaust system new life with a muffler or aftermarket exhaust system from AutoAnything.
What to Consider For Your Daily Driver’s Exhaust System
Like a fast-food joint, you could simply pick an item from the menu that fits – cheap, fast, and easy. But if you’re spending time every day in the driver’s seat, that could be a decision you soon regret. The better bet is to carefully consider the best replacement option you can afford, and one that’s the perfect fit for your vehicle.
Since you’re not pulling quarter-mile drags down the strip or looking to wake the neighborhood when you pull into your driveway, performance isn’t the top factor in your choice for an exhaust system.
So, how do you select the right exhaust system parts for your car?
Just a Muffler, or More?
Sometimes, an easy fix is all you need. Whether you have a rotted-out muffler or you just want to change how your car sounds, an aftermarket muffler can do wonders for your daily driver. That’s especially true if your exhaust is in good shape otherwise.
But you might be better off looking at an exhaust system instead of just a muffler there’s more to your story.
If your exhaust pipe has more holes than premium-quality Swiss cheese or if you’re trying to wring a bit more HP out of your stock engine, a simple muffler replacement isn’t going to cut it.
Types of Aftermarket Exhaust Systems
Options for exhaust systems are divided into two common camps: cat-back exhaust systems and axle-back aftermarket exhaust systems.
- Cat-back exhaust systems are literally from the catalytic converter and back. That means you’re replacing the intermediate pipe, resonator, tailpipe, and muffler. It usually includes an exhaust tip too.
- Axle-back systems are less encompassing. They’re usually from the rear axle assembly and back, and include the tailpipe and muffler, along with an exhaust tip.
There might be variations in how an exhaust system is classified, but most will fit into these two categories. There are also complete performance exhaust systems that run all the way from the engine to the tailpipe, but that’s not the type of thing you’ll be exploring on a commuter car or daily driver.
Other Common Exhaust System Parts to Think About
Mufflers, exhaust pipes, resonators, exhaust tips – what else could there possibly be to deal with? Well, if you’re changing out your exhaust as a repair rather than an accessory, you might be delving into a can of worms.
An oxygen sensor may be faulty, or the catalytic converter on the fritz. If your Check Engine light has been on, this should be tickling the back of your brain.
What’s Important in an Exhaust System?
Let’s face it – unlike other car mods and vehicle accessories, exhaust systems don’t have to be as pretty because they’re hidden under the car. The exception would be the exhaust tip that peeks out from the back bumper.
So, what should influence your purchasing decision on an exhaust system? Here are four things should be front of mind for your selection:
- Bolt-on fitment. A good-quality universal muffler is a piece of cake to change. But with an exhaust system, who has time to finagle with it to fit right? Go with either a high-grade muffler or a custom-fit bolt-on exhaust system specifically manufactured for your make and model.
- The sound you want. Most exhaust brands give you tone and volume choices among their products. Rude and obnoxious or tame and quiet – select based on the sound you want to project.
- Well-rounded warranty. Looks will fade in time, whether you choose a stainless steel or powder-coated system. Choose a muffler that is backed by warranty beyond just the finish.
- Top-quality manufacturing. Cheap steel won’t last long. Select a muffler and other exhaust system parts that use stainless steel or high-grade carbon steel, for example, so you know it’s going to last.
Our Top 7 Aftermarket Exhaust Choices
A Magnaflow muffler, an axle-back exhaust from Corsa, or a Borla exhaust system, or one of dozens of other products. At AutoAnything, there are tons of options for your commuter car’s exhaust. We’ve selected seven of the aftermarket exhaust systems and mufflers that we like best to help you narrow down the selection.
One of the most trusted names in aftermarket exhaust systems has to be Magnaflow. For nearly four decades, these performance mufflers have added a punchy tone to sports cars and daily drivers alike.
While they’re actually classified as universal mufflers, Magnaflow has styles and configurations that will meet your specific vehicle’s needs. Inlet and outlet sizes, muffler body shape and length, and even number of muffler outlets can be chosen to exactly replace what’s coming out of your car.
These mufflers are manufactured from heavy-gauge stainless steel that’s probably going to outlast the rest of your car. And, they’re backed by a Lifetime Warranty on construction.
If you’re ratcheting up the power quotient on your commuter, and you want a raspy-yet-mild sound that won’t set off car alarms around you, a Borla Touring Series cat-back system should be shortlisted. They promise a mild growl through a high-flow system that won’t echo inside your car.
Borla packs their mufflers with sound-absorbing composite filaments so all the noise goes out the tailpipe. But the Touring Series is the mildest they offer, so it isn’t annoying at all. Manufactured of T-304 stainless steel and with mandrel-bent tubing, there’s no doubt that your Borla system is top grade.
Whether it’s for a tuner or a classic muscle car, Borla’s cat-back exhaust systems are custom-fit for your ride and include all the hardware you need to get the job done right. You’ll mile out your daily driver long before the Million-Mile Warranty expires too.
MBRP is known for brash, high-performance exhaust systems and mufflers, but that’s not all they do. You don’t need to be a Hoonigan to own their stuff.
Of their extensive product lineup, the MBRP XP Series exhaust systems are perfect for the average law-abiding citizen’s ride. The XP Series is ideal for a budget-conscious buyer who still demands a premium product with a badass rumble.
This series is designed as a cat-back aftermarket exhaust package made of high-grade T409 stainless steel that not only lasts forever but looks freaking cool, too. It’s a bolt-on kit so you don’t need to pay a backyard mechanic for an hour of welding time.
If something should go wrong with your MBRP exhaust (but why would it?), you don’t have to worry. It’s covered by a Lifetime Warranty on stainless steel kits.
Corsa offers three distinctly different packages for their aftermarket exhaust systems: Sport, Touring, and Xtreme. For a daily driver, we’d suggest the Corsa Touring exhaust system with a quiet idle, no drone, and a slightly louder than stock note while you drive.
Corsa makes all Touring Series systems from 304 stainless steel with a mirror finish, in case you want to fall sleep under your car or truck staring at your muffler. Kits are all bolt-on and intended for easy installation by the average DIYer, hardware included.
Manufactured in the USA, you can’t go wrong with a Corsa exhaust system and its Lifetime Warranty.
If you drive an import car with a little zip – a tuner, we’ll call it – then GReddy is probably a name you’re familiar with. They’re one of the brands that gears their gear to gearheads with non-domestic makes – Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Subaru, and the like.
With GReddy performance exhaust systems, you get a cat-back exhaust that gives your compact tuner a sporty, deep sound that the factory never gets right. Typically, they also include massive exhaust tips that accent your car’s hot looks. For those of you who have a commuter that takes you to more places than just the office.
GReddy uses 304 stainless steel and hand-welds the joints- it’s a work of art, really. They’re custom-fit to your make and model to bolt up easy without cuts and fancy equipment. Enjoy peace of mind with a GReddy system too, as it’s backed by a Limited Lifetime Warranty on construction.
Most Flowmaster mufflers are suited for the drag strip or running super stock laps, never mind a high-powered muscle car. So you might be shocked to see a Flowmaster muffler that’s suitable for not just street applications, but a daily driver. Flowmaster 60 Series Delta Flow mufflers will be just right as a replacement.
As part of the ‘Mild’ or ‘Stock’ series of mufflers from Flowmaster, the 60 Series is specially formulated for 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder models. At idle, it has a mellow sound and a gruff bellow when you lay into the accelerator. Don’t worry about a peace officer showing up about sound ordinances, though – it’s barely louder than your stock muffler.
60 Series Delta Flow mufflers use aluminized steel for corrosion resistance in all the elements and it keeps costs reasonable. Add to that a 3-year warranty, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic muffler for a killer compact car.
If you’re okay with a moderate bark when you hit the gas and some rumble at idle, an aFe exhaust system could fit your desires well. The aFe MACH Force XP Series exhaust system is a great system for higher-horsepower daily drivers. It’s available in both cat-back and axle-back systems, but we’ve chosen the axle-back exhaust for our purposes.
Each system is custom-fit for your year, make, and model and bolts on to your vehicle’s factory exhaust. The 409 stainless steel used is corrosion-resistant to keep it looking good, but we particularly love the contrasting black exhaust tips.
aFe’s MACH Force XP Series exhaust systems are covered by a 2-year warranty, too.
Whether you drive a pickup truck to work every day, a sports car to the office, or a subcompact sedan as your grocery-getter, take pride in your car. Make it sound kickass with an awesome aftermarket muffler or exhaust system. You’ll find all the top brands available right here at AutoAnything.