Auto Exhaust Systems - Catbacks, Test Pipes and Weight
From the factory a large number of performance cars come equipped with a restrictive OEM intake system. These systems are designed to meet emissions standards, fall in compliance with NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) requirements, and last the entire lifetime of the vehicle.
Stock exhaust systems typically include a catalytic converter, heavy restrictive resonators, and are heavy piping.
The exhaust system is a critical part of your car that offers both a performance and aesthetic upgrades when you decide to go with an aftermarket system. There are a multitude of exhaust offerings and types you can go with. In this blog post we’ll be looking at some of the more popular options.
The portion of the exhaust from the catalytic converter to the muffler is known as the catback. When upgrading an exhaust system this is the best place to start as many manufacturers make full catback systems specifically to avoid changing the catalytic converter. The reason for this is to avoid the car needing a retune.
Anytime the exhaust flow is dramatically changed, you’ll want to verify that your AFRs (airfuel ratio) are within safe margins to avoid any possible damage to your vehicle. Though with a catback system, many vehicles will not have their exhaust flow altered enough to require a tune.
It’s important to consider what kind of tone and sound you are going for when selecting a catback as various muffler types and piping setups will change the tone of the car. A straight pipe running into two large canisters is going to sound significantly louder than a resonated car with a large single muffler.
Again, be sure to evaluate all options when looking at catbacks and try to find as many videos or posts about the tone of the exhaust! Better to do it right the first time then double back.
A test pipe is the section of piping in an exhaust where the catalytic converter is. Removing the catalytic converter creates much higher exhaust flow. For turbocharged cars this results in less back pressure and better flow for the turbine.
It’s important to keep in mind your testpipe is one of the best sections of your exhaust to upgrade to get the kind of sound you want. For a deeper and more subdued tone, a test pipe with a resonator or even a mini muffler is the best option. These help tone down the overall exhaust tone and volume along with resulting in a deeper sound in some setups.
For maximum volume and aggressive sound, it’s best to go with simply a straight pipe for your test pipe. This allows the exhaust gases to have maximum flow straight through the rest of the exhaust to the mufflers.
In most cases a straight pipe test pipe will be the cheapest option available on a test pipe, followed by a resonator as a good inbetween, and a mini muffler as the most expensive.
It’s important to keep in mind not just what your goals for the car are, but where you drive and how you like to drive. If you live in a neighborhood with a H OA (Home Owners Association) or in a community that has noise restriction policies, it’s critical you select the right system as not to end up being fined and then forced to change your setup.
A final consideration for selecting an exhaust is weight. Stock exhaust systems often tend to be incredibly heavy. DSPORT Magazine reports their stock Mitsubishi Evolution X exhaust weighed in at 59 pounds!
After replacing the system with a full Tomei titanium exhaust, weighing just 12 pounds, they shaved an incredible 47 pounds!
While the Tomei titanium system may be an extreme case of weight shaving, there is still a good amount of weight to be saved by exchanging your stock system for an aftermarket system.
Regardless of what you’re looking for in terms of performance, sound, or value MAPerformance has you covered with a variety of options from Tomei, GReddy, Ultimate Racing, Invidia, and multiple other brands including their own, MAP Fabrication.
Article written by: Carl St. James