All cars must have an exhaust system in order to vent gases from the engine. However, your car’s stock exhaust system probably isn’t all it could be. Automakers are required to make a number of trade-offs to ensure that their vehicles meet the needs of many different buyers who live in many different areas, with many different driving habits. An aftermarket exhaust system can actually deliver quite a few different benefits.

More power

One of the most interesting things about adding an aftermarket exhaust to your car is the fact that it can offer more power and performance. While it won’t deliver the same kind of performance boost a turbocharger or supercharger will, you can add several horsepower to the system by reducing (but not eliminating) back pressure. While back pressure is necessary, it can stifle your engine somewhat if it’s too high.

Improved fuel economy

You might not think it, but adding an aftermarket exhaust system to your car can have an impact on the amount of fuel your engine consumes during operation. Again, the numbers won’t be astronomical, but you can definitely see a boost in fuel economy, particularly if you opt for a full exhaust replacement rather than just a cat-back or axle-back replacement.

Sound

This one may or may not be important to you, depending on your age and preferences. An aftermarket exhaust can greatly improve the sound of your engine.

Choosing your system

There are three main types of aftermarket exhaust systems on the market:

  • Axle-Back: This type of system replaces the system from the rear axle to the muffler and has the least effect on performance and fuel economy.

  • Cat-Back: A cat-back system replaces the stock exhaust system from the catalytic converter back to the muffler, and has a moderate effect on fuel economy and engine performance.

  • Header-Back: A header-back exhaust replacement completely removes your stock components and replaces them with aftermarket options. This has the greatest impact on performance and fuel economy.

An aftermarket exhaust can have significant benefits for your car, but you’ll need to choose the right option and then have it professionally installed.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as What Are the Benefits of an Aftermarket Exhaust System? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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