Why Opt for a Custom Exhaust System (Even if You’re Not Into Muscle Cars)?

Car's exhaust

There’s a common misconception that custom exhaust systems are only for hot rods and classic cars, but anyone can upgrade their exhaust system to get more out of their vehicle. 

What Is the Exhaust System in Your Car? 

The exhaust systems on our cars are critical to their safety and driveability. Burning fuel to power the engine involves many chemical reactions. The exhaust system’s job is to take these chemical reactions and remove the harmful gases created, muffle the sound and vibrations that happen, and direct the gases out the back of the car. The exhaust system has four main components, each with its own very specific job:

  • Exhaust manifold. This is where your exhaust system begins. As your car burns fuel to power the engine, toxic gases are released. The exhaust manifold acts as a holding tank for all these toxic gases. Once all these emissions are completely burned and tested by the oxygen sensor, the manifold sends them on their way to the next stop in the exhaust system.
  • Catalytic converter. This incredible piece of machinery is made up of precious metals such as platinum, palladium or rhodium, and its job is to convert the harmful gases from the manifold into water vapor and carbon dioxide. Once these gases are converted to less harmful ones, they are passed through another oxygen sensor on their way to the muffler. This is to ensure that the gases leaving the catalytic converter are safe and have been effectively “cleaned.” 
  • Muffler. Mufflers help absorb the sound waves and act as a silencer for all the micro-explosions that happen as fuel is burned to power your engine. When the muffler on a car is damaged or not working correctly, everyone around you will know it! Excessive noise is one of the first signs that your muffler or exhaust system is not working correctly. Mufflers are made of steel and coated with aluminum, and in addition to acting as a silencer, they also reduce emissions from your car. 
  • Tailpipes. The tailpipes are the exit point for all these chemical reactions leaving your vehicle. It’s essential that these gases be directed out the back of the car and away from the passengers, and the tailpipe is specially designed to do just that. 

What Is a Custom Exhaust System?

A custom exhaust system is any modification or upgrade done to the already existing system on a car. 

Now that you know what the exhaust system is and does, you might be thinking to yourself, “Sounds like the one that came standard on my car is perfectly fine for the job.” 

Well, yes and no. 

A common myth about exhaust systems is that only those who are restoring old cars or teenagers hot rodding around town would be in the market for a custom exhaust system. However, a custom exhaust system is not just for those who love the growl of the engine. Depending on your goals, a custom exhaust made to your car’s specifications can be just the ticket to improving performance, increasing fuel efficiency and getting more from your vehicle, especially if it’s an older make and model.

Why Should You Consider Putting in a Custom Exhaust System?  

The Machine Age ushered in considerable innovations, but a side effect of all that mass production is car parts that are generic and sometimes not specifically designed for your make and model of vehicle. When you invest in a custom exhaust system built just for your car, you’re getting a system tailored to your vehicle and goals. 

Some people may be hesitant to spend the money on an exhaust upgrade, but the benefits can be numerous. One major benefit to consider? Factory exhausts are commonly made with mild steel, which is less durable and can require regular repairs. Simply replacing your factory exhaust with higher-quality parts has a domino effect — higher-quality parts mean enhanced engine efficiency, which means better gas mileage.

Other benefits include:

  • Customized look and sound. Make your car louder or quieter based on your preferences. A custom exhaust also adds to the aesthetics of your car, which you can personalize. 
  • Increased engine performance. The standard design of the exhaust system uses crushed bend exhaust pipes, which slows airflow. Custom systems use mandrel bends, which offer a more consistent airflow. This allows the engine to deliver more horsepower and torque. 
  • Increase the life of your system. Who doesn’t want to worry less about car repairs? Higher-quality parts mean your exhaust system will be more durable and likely last on the list of things you ever have to worry about in your car again. 
  • Lower pollution. A more efficient exhaust system means leaving less of a carbon footprint.  

How Much Does a Custom Exhaust System Cost?

Now is not the time to look for the cheapest mechanic or go the DIY route. This job is best left to a shop that specializes in muffler and exhaust work

A few things will influence the final price of custom exhaust installation, but expect to spend anywhere from $500 to $2,000. 

Things your mechanic will have to take into consideration when pricing your job:

  • Make and model of your vehicle
  • Type and cost of the new parts
  • Labor costs 

Doing your research to find a qualified auto shop will be an essential part of the process. Read reviews, and don’t be afraid to ask questions at any shop you’re considering. A reputable mechanic will be happy to answer any questions you may have. 

Discuss any concerns you have before you commit to an auto repair shop. You should have a solid understanding of the types of parts they will use, how much they will cost, and how long your vehicle will be in the shop. 

The ability to machine the parts in-house is definitely a positive, as this will save time and money, and it means you’ve chosen a shop with the right level of expertise to install your new exhaust system. 

You don’t have to drive a muscle car to understand the desire for a vehicle that is fuel-efficient and performs well. With a custom exhaust system, these things are within reach for every car owner. 

Up Next: Why Exhaust Inspections Are Crucial for Family Vehicles

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