The Best Performance Exhaust Systems

February 17, 2012

You can choose from six great performance exhaust systems: single side, dual rear exit, opposite side dual, axle back, cat-back, and turbo back exhaust.

Dual Rear Exit Performance Exhaust System

A number of different companies claim to make the best performance exhaust systems. A performance car exhaust is an essential part of your vehicle because it can improve torque and horsepower as well as gas mileage. So, when choosing a performance car exhaust, it is important that you know what type of exhaust is suitable for your vehicle.

Single Side Exhaust
A single side exit exhaust has only one exhaust pipe located on one side of the car. The pipe for this type is often located at the back of the back wheel on the passenger side. It is one of the less expensive types of exhaust, but it generally provides lesser horsepower.

Dual Rear Exit Exhaust
A dual side exit exhaust has 2 pipes located on the same part of the vehicle. If you want a louder sound than the single side exit, this is your best bet. It also provides less restriction on your car's exhaust system. The canister exhaust for this type is often larger than the actual size of the cylinder. With this type of exhaust, the pipes are located beneath the bumper and are not bent around the rear wheels. It is often said that a dual rear exit exhaust looks better than the other types.

Opposite Side Dual Exhaust
An opposite side dual exhaust is slightly different from the dual rear exit in terms of the location of the pipes. It provides the same sound and performance. For this exhaust, the two pipes wrap around on each side of the rear wheels. This type of exhaust is suitable for trucks or cars that often tow other vehicles. The downpipe and the exhaust pipe are generally made from stainless steel.

Axle Back Exhaust
The axle back exhaust isn't the best performance exhaust, but it sounds like it is. It gives the illusion of having power because of the sound it puts out. It's easy to fit, even for those with little mechanical knowledge, and the chrome tips that peek out from the back of the car look very good.

Cat-Back Exhaust
A cat-back exhaust refers to the entire system going back from the catalytic converter. Cat-back exhaust systems were created to take advantage of the catalytic converter (which legally has to be on the vehicle) and then open up the exhaust to dual pipes. It's possible to have a true dual system if there are dual catalytic converters, which is rare. Many people who are seeking the best performance exhaust opt for a cat-back system.

Turbo Back Exhaust
A turbo back exhaust system is different from a cat-back in that it goes from the turbocharger outlet all the way back. In some of these systems the stock catalytic converter is replaced with one that gives less restriction of flow. Tests have shown that the turbo back system can be the best performance exhaust, giving greater torque and more peak power. The midrange power of the cat-back is a little higher. All things considered, the turbo back seems to be the best performance exhaust.

Diameter of the Pipe
The diameter of the exhaust pipe is an important factor to consider when choosing a performance car exhaust. The pipe diameter should be smaller if your vehicle has a much higher torque peak. On the other hand, go for a bigger size pipe diameter if the torque peak of your vehicle has a lower RPM than what you wanted. As a rule, if your engine has a 250 to 350hp, then the diameter of the pipe exhaust should be between 3" and 3½". A 400hp engine should have a 4" pipe.

Maintaining Your Performance Exhaust Headers

Performance exhaust headers increase the performance of a car, but are just one part of the exhaust system. These headers typically produce a lot of heat. It is the first place that the exhaust gasses pass through. For excellent performance, it is best to regularly maintain and clean the headers. Cleaning and maintaining the headers is actually fairly easy if you have the correct supplies and tools.

Let the Engine Cool
Before the exhaust header can be cleaned or maintained it is important to let the engine cool completely. Do not clean or maintain the headers right after driving.

Clean the Headers
Cleaning the outside of the headers is important. Water can be used for this. If there are nearby wires, use a spray bottle, as there will be less chance of wetting any electrical components. A damp cloth will also do the trick. Use a degreaser to get rid of any oil, dirt and debris on the headers and exhaust manifold. Once they're clean, allow the headers to completely dry.

Repair the Weld
There may be a small leak in the weld. This means that exhaust gases will be leaking, which can smell and cause an increase in heat. Welding is the only way to fix this. A blower and silver solder will be necessary. Only weld if you have training.

Apply a Thermal Wrap
To control some of the heat produced by the headers, a thermal wrap can be applied. Some header tape needs water for installation. Check the type of header tape you're using. Wrap the tape starting at the section closest to the engine and wrap towards the header pipe. Tie the wrap with ties that come with the tape or hose clamps.

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