When it comes to modifying your vehicle, exhaust modifications are among the most popular for tuners. That's not news. For decades, exhaust mods have been installed to get a little more rumble and horsepower from vehicles. Even though exhaust mods are popular, it doesn't mean that they are affordable or easy. Like any vehicle modification, it comes with its own set of considerations. In this post, we are going to explore the pluses and minuses of installing aftermarket exhaust modifications to your vehicle.
The Pluses of Exhaust Modifications
Because a muffler is designed to decrease the sound coming from your vehicle, it features baffles and chambers acoustically positioned to slow or deaden sound waves. In fact, you can usually hear a vehicle without a muffler from blocks away. The same design that deadens sound, however, can also restrict the flow of exhaust in your vehicle. An aftermarket exhaust modification can help change the sound and exhaust flow of stock OEM components.
Let it Breathe
Along with a spark and gasoline, air is a key component to vehicle performance. We are talking airflow from the manifold to the tailpipe. When you open up the airflow of your exhaust, you reduce the amount of restriction and backflow. This often means an increase in horsepower and acceleration.
High-Performance Catalytic Converter
If your priority is more about performance than volume, replacing the stock catalytic converter with a high-performance option should be a consideration. There are a few things to keep in mind when replacing a stock catalytic converter.
First, some high-performance catalytic converters feature a ceramic core. Ceramic cores often have a lower melting point than the OEM one in your vehicle. If you have other mods like a turbocharger or nitrous, you'll want to do some research to make sure the new catalytic converter you have your eye on will play nicely with your current mods.
Also, resist the urge to replace the catalytic converter with a straight pipe. First, it's illegal in every state. Second, it will almost always light up your dashboard with trouble codes related to your vehicle's emissions.
Use Your Headers
If your primary goal is to reduce restriction, then headers are a no-nonsense way to go about it. Headers work by collecting the gas from the exhaust port of each cylinder and channeling it into its own tube. Those tubes, then, meet at a collector that is bolted to the exhaust pipe/pipes. Depending upon the vehicle you drive, installation can be difficult. For instance, you might have to pull the starter and some other parts, maybe even the motor mounts, as well. You'll also want to install a heat shield to protect the starter from the additional heat the headers will create.
The Minuses of Exhaust Modifications
As with most decisions in life, you must weigh the options of your outcomes. The installation of aftermarket exhaust parts is no exception. It can be easy to get caught up in the performance and sound aspects of exhaust mods, but that's really only part of what goes into the final decision.
The Difficulty of Installation
You should definitely take the combination of your vehicle and your mod components into consideration. Exhaust components aren't just plug-and-play. Some installations can be quite difficult. If you are installing them yourself, complicated bends could make the process very arduous and time-consuming. If you are paying someone to do the install for you, that time is measured in dollars and cents. How much are you willing to pay for the installation?
If your vehicle necessitates many bends to get everything aligned right—consider the placement of the gas tank on many older model pickup trucks, for instance—each one of those bends can restrict airflow. Too many bends could negate, or even decrease, the promised performance gains.
Location, Location, Location
Where do you live? Do you live in places where salt trucks are out in the winter months? Do you live near the ocean, where the salt is in the air? If so, you'll want to be very careful about the pipes you choose. Your best bet is to fork over more cash for aluminized pipes or even stainless steel. The mild steel pipes common in OEM-style pipes are prone to rusting in such conditions. The last thing you want to do is a reinstall after you think you have everything covered.
Consider Your Warranty
If you're vehicle is under warranty, you should check the fine print on your warranty. Common vehicle warranties include Mopar Vehicle Protection plans and Ford Extended Service Protection (ESP) plans. If you are still unsure, you should call your warranty provider. Any vehicle modifications that alter the vehicle's original components are often sticking points for warranty coverage.
While modifications to your existing exhaust system can increase your vehicle performance and add a little growl, they come with their own list of potential pitfalls, as well. Before you make a final decision, you should consider how difficult the installation will be for your vehicle, the type of material the components are made of as it related to your climate, and how the installation of aftermarket exhaust components could affect your warranty.