A Quick Guide to Custom Exhaust Systems

Custom exhaust systems are a popular choice in the world of aftermarket modifications.  Car enthusiasts and average drivers alike are fascinated with bringing out the cool factor in their cars.  Just look at the 18 years of success for TheFast and the Furious movie franchise, which is continuing in August with Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.  

Brush up on your exhaust system basics with this quick guide.


Helping Engines Reach Full Power

All car manufacturers design and install a basic exhaust system that consistently delivers a specified horsepower and torque.  However, that system does not necessarily allow the engine to perform its best.

An aftermarket exhaust system can offer a quicker, more efficient route for the exhaust gas to escape so the engine “breathes” easier.  More fuel and air can be burned within the engine and this creates more power. Efficiently running engines also help with fuel economy.

Additionally, custom systems deepen the “growl” during acceleration. Many car enthusiasts often want a more aggressive sound that matches their vehicle’s increased horsepower.


Crush Bends vs. Mandrel Bends

There are two methods to create – or “bend” – the pipe used in exhaust systems.  Most cars roll off the factory line with an exhaust pipe formed using the crush bending technique.  It is quick, easy, and repeatable, but it also has a higher risk of restricting air flow because of kinks or crimps in the exhaust gas travel route.

Custom exhaust system makers use a method called mandrel bending instead.  Mandrel bends are created by using a flexible rod inserted in the pipe, which prevents the pipe walls from collapsing or kinking as the pipe is bent.  This ensures a fully open route for the exhaust gas.

Mandrel bending is done with specialized equipment that many auto shops maintain locally. Vehicle owners can customize the shape of their exhaust pipes.


4 Types of Aftermarket Exhaust Systems

When shopping for a custom system, there are four types on the market today. Each has pros and cons.

  • Header-back exhaust system: This system replaces everything from the header collector to the tailpipes. It typically increases the diameter of the entire system, which in turn increases the volume of exhaust gas flow. Since everything is being replaced, it is the most complicated to install and is almost always the most expensive option.

  • Cat-back exhaust system: This system replaces the exhaust components from the catalytic converter back, including muffler and tailpipe. It is the most popular because it is a relatively simple modification. In addition, it is usually emissions-legal because it uses the stock catalytic converters.

  • Axle-back exhaust system: This system includes parts from the rear axle to the exhaust tip.  While the power gain is not as noticeable as the header-back or cat-back, the axle-back is usually chosen because it is easier to install and comes at a lower price point.  

  • Turbo-back exhaust system: This option is not as popular as the others because it only replaces the section from the outlet of a turbocharger to the final open-air vent and is typically produced for cars with turbochargers.

All of these custom exhaust system types will boost power levels compared to the factory-installed systems and give vehicles that distinctive low-pitched “growl.”


All Exhaust Systems Need Regular Maintenance

All exhaust systems share the need for regular maintenance. Whether they have custom exhaust systems or what was driven off the dealer’s lot, it is important to have vehicles inspected regularly and perform maintenance as needed.


Living the Dream is a Vogue Custom Exhaust center. We can help you select and design a custom exhaust system for your vehicle, as well as provide whatever repair or maintenance you may need. Contact us today.


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