Owning and driving a high-performance vehicle is a pleasure. You can feel the intense G-forces pushing you back into your seat as you hit the gas, the smell of your tyres burning, and the awe of bystanders all leads to a very satisfying experience. However, for some, this isn’t enough. The sound of the exhaust system must also be up to par with the vehicle to get their hearts pumping.
So, we have compiled some of the best exhaust systems that will take your vehicle to the next level. Whether you’re just using your vehicle for your daily commute or for the next trip into the outback and wilderness, we got you covered. Before you purchase an exhaust system for yourself, take a look at all the options. You should also learn how a high-performance exhaust can improve your vehicle’s power, sound, and efficiency.
So, what are the best exhaust systems? Why should you get them? Read more to find out!
Why Should I Change My Vehicle’s Exhaust System?
Stock exhaust systems (the one that came with your car) are often very limited and can be a bottleneck for your vehicle’s performance. As a result, this is one of the first upgrades that 4WD enthusiasts do to their brand-new four-wheel-drive vehicle. The main benefit of acquiring a new exhaust system is the extra performance that you will get after upgrading. Aside from that, your fuel economy will also be better after replacing the stock exhaust.
The main considerations that people make when looking for a new exhaust system are efficiency, increased torque, and pulling power. Aside from that, here are other things that you should know about 4WD exhaust systems:
- You can add a snorkel: Snorkels are designed to force stale air out of the engine and lets in the fresh air. If left unchecked, stale air can cause a build-up of oil and fuel residue that can result to fuel inefficiency. To be sure, get a snorkel that has a large diameter exhaust to help get more airflow to the engine. You car read more about How 4WD Snorkels Work here.
- Noise does not equate to performance: Loud exhausts are useless and they can be bad for your vehicle. Exhaust systems that are of good quality tend to change the sound of your exhaust because of the larger diameter exhaust. When combined with the high flow muffler and catalytic converters, it can offer a better performance and fuel efficiency.
- Size definitely matters: Exhaust systems with larger diameters would release unwanted turbo back pressure and improve the fuel efficiency of your vehicle’s engine. Aside from that, removing back pressure will also reduce turbo lag and exhaust gas temperature which is useful when towing vehicle up on steep inclines.
- Do-it-yourself installation: Most third-party exhaust systems come with all the parts that you need to install them and use the factory mounts of the stock exhaust system. So, it will be relatively easy especially if you follow the instructions religiously or scour the internet for tips and tricks. If you feel that you’re not up to the task, you can always hire a professional to install them for you.
- Options abound: There are tonnes of options that you can choose from, however, finding the one that fits your vehicle might be tricky. If you plan on sticking on the bitumen (get the full aluminised mild steel), drive on the coast (aluminised mild steel is ideal for this situation) or travel on off-road and beach track (full grade stainless steel should be at the top of your list), there are always a lot of options for different use cases.
1. MagnaFlow Exhaust System
This system comes with standard, XL, and Pro models. The MagnaFlow is designed to unlock the full potential of your vehicle’s engine. The system is also designed to be durable as it is made from 409 Stainless Steel tubing. It also includes mufflers to achieve the ideal temperature consistency, reduce vibrations, and noise. The MagnaFlow is also available for gas and diesel vehicles. Other features of this kit include:
- Lower heat, higher exhaust scavenging, and minimised back pressure to provide greater power and efficiency;
- Leak-free and high-quality overlapped welds;
- Simple installation (bolt-on installation); and
- All models come with a lifetime warranty.
The high-end model comes with top-quality systems with mufflers and double-wall welded tips. In addition, the XL model comes with satin finish mufflers and single-walled clamp-on tips. Meanwhile, the Pro (entry-level) is compatible with basic stainless-steel mufflers that are sold separately.
2. Heartthrob Exhaust System
If you want a highly-customisable system, this one is for you. There are a number of designs to choose from including the Cat-Back, Diesel, Header-Back, Manifold, and Deep Tone. You can also choose the specific diameters, exit styles, and muffler styles that fit your vehicle. Installing the exhaust is also easy because the necessary brackets and hardware come in the box. The Heartthrob also features:
- Aluminised or T409 stainless steel construction;
- Your choice of muffler style (you can also opt to omit the muffler); and
- Comes with a 1-year warranty.
The exhaust system is meant to be mounted in the place of your old exhaust on the existing mount points. So, installing the system is a simple strip-and-bolt process.
3. MBRP Exhaust System
For those who don’t want to have a very noisy setup, this one is for you. The MBRP System is a free-flowing, high-performance, and customisable system. The system also includes a high-flow muffler provides an aggressive tone that won’t hurt your ears. There are also models that are compatible with gas or diesel vehicles.
- Pro Series: made from T-304 stainless steel tubing and includes dual-wall tips from the same material. This model also comes with a lifetime warranty.
- XP Series: made from a higher quality material (T-409 stainless steel) and comes with single-wall stainless steel tips. The manufacturer guarantees a lifetime warranty for the system.
- Installer Series: this model is made from 16-gauge aluminised steel and has polished single-wall tips (made from stainless steel). The Installer series also comes with a 3-year warranty.
- Performance Series: This model is made from aluminised steel that reduces the cost but not the quality. It also has a two-piece tailpipe design and no tips.
- SLM Series: this mode if for off-road use only and includes a muffler delete pipe to emphasise the sound.
- Turn-Down Series: made from T-304 stainless. It is also designed with a turn-down exhaust tip to add to its unique style.
- Black Series: this model is meant to withstand high temperature which would maintain its modern looks (matte-black finish).
4. PaceSetter Monza Exhaust System
This exhaust system is ideal for those who want to upgrade the horsepower and torque of their vehicles. Add that to the simple installation process, then this one is a steal. The Monza is a 16-gauge aluminised steel is designed to increase airflow through its extra-large pipes. They also include chrome exhaust tips which will make it look a tad nicer. Other features of this system include:
- Black finish to improve the looks and prevent corrosion;
- Mufflers matched to your vehicle to lessen back pressure;
- 3-year warranty; and
- Installation instructions to make mounting it simple.
- Skunk2 Megapower Exhaust System
The Skunk2 Megapower is perfect for 4×4 SUVs and compact vehicles. The exhaust system is made from T-304 stainless steel with Japanese inspired design. As it improves the airflow from your engine, it will deliver significant horsepower gains. The exhaust is also made autonomously by robotic welder which ensures superior strength which is further supported by a limited 1-year warranty. The exhaust also includes:
- CNC mandrel-bent tubing to maximise flow;
- Removable silencer and a polished 110mm tip;
- Low-restriction design;
- Durable stainless-steel flanges; and
- Acid-etched badge and nameplate.
5. Borla Exhaust System
The Borla can be highly customised for your vehicle. It will also add a throaty growl and increase the airflow from the engine. This model is made from aerospace-grade T-304 stainless steel which is covered by a “million-mile warranty”. It also features a simple installation because it uses the factory mounting on your vehicle. So, drilling holes into the body of your vehicle are thankfully not needed. Other features of the system are the following:
- Straight-through and multi-core designs which increase exhaust velocity. This will increase the power generated for your ride and add about 15% more horsepower to your engine;
- Many configurations to choose from: Cat-Back, Rear Section, and X/Y/Down pipes; and
- Follows legal restrictions, so your vehicle’s warranty will not be void.
There are three models to choose from:
- ATAK: the loudest system which produces a very aggressive noise
- S-Type: not as loud but offers plenty of power
- Touring: comes with little sound and all of the benefits of the other models
Bonus: 6. Corsa Exhaust System
You’ll have a number of options to choose from when you opt for this system – the Xtreme, Sport, and Touring. So, you will be able to find the right combination of sound profile and power for your vehicle. The mandrel-bent tubing that is featured in this exhaust increases airflow while reducing back pressure. All of this will ultimately lead to a vastly improved fuel economy. They can also be customised to suit your vehicle, so you’ll have worry-free installation experience. It also has:s
- Power-Pulse RSCT technology in the mufflers to remove the “droning” noise observed at cruising speeds;
- XO pipes and Down Pipes can be installed;
- Optional diamond black exhaust tips for select vehicle models;
- Lifetime warranty;
- No packing materials in the muffler chambers that can potentially restrict power/airflow;
- Three configurations with different sound profiles.
You can choose from the following models:
- Xtreme: this is ideal for those who seek the deepest and most aggressive sound with a throaty growl. This model is perfect for 4WD enthusiasts.
- Sport: this configuration also has a growl but the noise inside the cabin is lesser than the Xtreme. It can also be added with other performance upgrades like air intakes.
- Touring: it can add a little bit of performance just above the output of the stock exhaust system. It is also ideal if you want to add headers or other high-horsepower mods.
How Much Does an Exhaust System Usually Cost?
Most brand-new exhaust systems cost about $250 and it already includes the pipes, resonator, and muffler. In addition, the installers from the shop that you will go to will charge about $295 for the parts and an extra labour fee. The installation often lasts about 2 hours and the labour rate is usually about $70 – $90 per hour, so that will be $180 for the labour. All in all, you will have to spend about $470 for everything.
Are Loud Exhausts Illegal?
Attempting and installing modifications to your muffler to make your vehicle louder is illegal. This rule was implemented to prevent people from creating an exhaust leak. These leaks are very dangerous and can lower fuel economy. It is also illegal to drive a vehicle that had its muffler removed or “deleted”. Thus, open pipes are illegal wherever you go.
Is Single or Dual Exhaust Better?
The addition of a second exhaust is a good idea. Your vehicle’s exhaust system will have an extra head and exhaust manifold to allow double the exhaust ejected from the engine compared to a single exhaust. Thus, the output of your engine will increase significantly. The system can also decrease, albeit slightly, the back pressure that is commonly observed in single exhaust systems. All of these benefits will ultimately lead to an increase in the engine’s fuel efficiency.
However, if you have a non-turbocharged four-cylinder engine, installing a dual exhaust system will not make a big difference in your ride and efficiency. In this case, the added exhaust will just improve the aesthetics of your vehicle. On the other hand, if you have a turbocharged engine, it’s performance will greatly improve because of the extra fresh air and fuel that is forced onto it by the turbo. Further gains in horsepower will be more obvious to vehicles sporting a V-6 or higher engine.
Will I Ruin My Vehicle If I Remove the Muffler?
The exhaust system’s main role is to ensure the proper engine and emissions performance of your vehicle. However, the muffler is specifically designed to muffle (as what the name suggests) the sound that is produced by your vehicle’s engine. The sound produced may be amplified as it travels through the exhaust pipe and the muffler stifles some of it. As a result, you can remove the muffler from your vehicle with any loss of engine performance or fuel-efficiency. But doing so can be a violation of your locale’s traffic rules and you may be charged with a fine.
Does A Straight Pipe Cause Lower Mileage?
Installing a straight pipe will not significantly reduce your fuel efficiency. Instead, it will maintain the same level of efficiency and add a little bit of performance to your vehicle. These pipes can create a better flow of exhaust gas, thus the marginal increase in mileage. One thing to note though is a straight pipe can alter the sound of your exhaust system.
Is It Illegal to Modify Your Exhaust?
It varies from state to state and you should know the traffic rules relating to muffler delete before going further. However, it is mostly illegal. The majority of states require that all vehicles must have a working muffler to reduce the excessive or unusual noise that they may produce. Thus, installing a muffler delete or a similar device of the same purpose to your vehicle may lead you to pay fines.
How Long Should an Exhaust Last?
Most exhaust systems in modern vehicles (from the last decade or two) are usually made from either chrome or stainless steel. These exhaust systems are designed to last the same as the life of your vehicle. On the other hand, cheaper but high-quality exhaust systems made of non-stainless steel can last for about five years (more if you don’t do much driving). The limited life span is caused by the constant exposure of the exhaust system to very high temperatures that can cause a build-up of residue that will lead to rust, wear, holes, and cracking.
How Do I Know If My Exhaust System Needs Repair?
A loud and roaring noise coming from your exhaust system is usually a sign that something is wrong with it. These loud and obnoxious noises should be the queue that you need to visit a mechanic to get the exhaust checked. In addition, it can also be a sign that your muffler needs repair or replacing. Caring for your exhaust system is important because you will have a better fuel economy and produce lower emissions.
Are Exhaust Leaks Dangerous?
Yes. Exhaust systems with leaks are potentially dangerous especially if you are driving it. Doing so will produce harmful and toxic carbon monoxide fumes that can cause carbon monoxide poisoning (when released in enclosed spaces). Another downside of an exhaust leak is the reduced fuel economy as you will need to fill up your gas tank more often. A leak can also cause your engine to work harder to compensate which will create a vicious cycle that is bad for you, your wallet, and the environment.