Blog Details



April 12, 2023

Maximizing Performance: Aftermarket Exhaust Guide

For many, a car is not just a transport. It means more than that. They consider their car as a reflection of their personalities. This is why you’ll notice people upgrading their cars and installing the best aftermarket exhaust systems.

The primary purpose of an aftermarket exhaust system is to improve the performance, sound, and appearance of a vehicle. These systems are typically made of higher-quality materials, such as stainless steel or titanium, and feature larger diameter tubing and less restrictive mufflers than their factory counterparts.

However, it’s important to note that not all aftermarket exhaust systems are created in similar ways. The performance gains and sound characteristics can vary greatly depending on the manufacture, design, and installation.

In this aftermarket exhaust guide, we’ll provide an overview of aftermarket exhaust systems, their benefits, the parts, their functions, and many more.

Start reading!

What Is An Aftermarket Exhaust System?

Before anything else, you must know what an exhaust system is. They are essentially of two types- stock exhaust and aftermarket exhaust. The aftermarket exhaust system refers to a custom-made exhaust system designed to replace the factory-installed ones. It isn’t just an exhaust tip or a muffler but includes several parts. The parts include pipes, exhaust manifolds, catalytic converters, and everything coming between the exhaust tip and the engine. The design of an aftermarket exhaust system can create a significant impact on a vehicle’s torque, horsepower, and overall driving experience.

It is slightly different from the stock system. Both have different pipe diameters and pipe bends, and both types of exhaust systems do the same jobs. But the aftermarket exhausts deliver better flow, leading to better performance and sound modification. More than the sound, people use this system to let the car breathe better.

The Exhaust System Parts And Their Importance

It’s time to break down the anatomy of an exhaust system. We will list each component, its function, and why they matter. We hope you get some clarity here and make an informed decision regarding the best exhaust systems.

  • Exhaust manifold

Manifolds are attached to the cylinder heads to manage the spent exhaust gases, headers, or exhaust. They scavenge for exhaust gases from the combustion compartment. Usually, the aftermarket manifolds are mandrel bent to decrease the exhaust limitations, letting the gas move around without restraint. It lessens backpressure, which saps power and aids in increasing exhaust flow velocity to produce energy pulses that effectively scavenge or draw waste gases from the engine. Manifolds or headers are available in multiple configurations. They also have variations in size.

  • Downpipe

The downpipe, also known as the header pipe, is an essential component of an automobile’s exhaust system. Its primary function is to connect the exhaust headers, which collect the exhaust gases from the engine’s combustion chambers to the mufflers or resonators, where the exhaust noise is muffled. It is generally made of stainless steel, or aluminized steel and comes in various diameters and lengths, depending on the specific application and engine size.

In high-performance applications, you can replace the downpipe with an aftermarket unit to reduce back pressure and improve exhaust flow. This can result in increased horsepower and torque. Such aftermarket downpipes may also eliminate the catalytic converter, which can be illegal in some jurisdictions and result in increased emissions. Overall the downpipe plays a crucial role in the exhaust system, helping to reduce noise and emissions while improving engine performance and efficiency.

  • Catalytic converter

A muffler decreases exhaust noise, but a catalytic converter tries to reduce dangerous car emissions. It is because of the law that one requires the catalytic converter. Some regulations need you to have it for fresher air for the general public. It is an environmental need. If your car was made after 1975, chances are it came with a factory-equipped catalytic converter.

How does catalytic converter work? It is quite simple. Within the catalytic converter, the exhaust gases pass through a pair of ceramic honeycombs. The coats of honeycombs are put with a mixture of valuable metals. A chemical process is triggered upon contact with the coating, which transforms the emissions from your vehicle into carbon dioxide, nitrogen, oxygen, and water before getting expelled into the air.

  • Resonator

In a performance exhaust system, the resonator complements the muffler. It gets rid of the extremely high-pitched sound, irritating buzzes, and hums. It makes a smooth note without affecting the volume. All in all, a resonator eliminates the shrill sounds or sounds of a specific frequency, which bounce away from the device’s interior, thereby canceling each other.

  • Oxygen Sensor

The oxygen sensor is attached to the exhaust manifold. This device incorporates an oxygen level sensor in the exhaust pipe to measure the amount of unburned oxygen, providing valuable information for fuel measurement. The sensor data is then used to optimize the fuel mixture and reduce exhaust emissions, resulting in smoother engine performance and fewer issues.

  • Crossover

The difference between H-pipes and X-pipes is significant, particularly in dual exhaust systems. While not all systems incorporate crossovers, we advise you to install one to enhance performance by balancing exhaust pressure. Moreover, the type of crossover used directly affects the sound of the exhaust. X-pipes tend to create a sharp euro sound, whereas H-pipes offer a lower, more robust tone. Choosing which type of crossover to use depends on individual preference.

  • Muffler

One of the popular parts of an exhaust system is a mighty muffler. It reduces the noise from the race car exhaust system. The function of this part may sound easy but are way complicated. So how does it work? A muffler utilizes several combinations of chambers, baffles, sound-deadening items, and perforated tubes to reduce sounds. The muffler manufacturers configure the components in various ways to deliver different exhaust tones. Idyllically, the aftermarket muffler gives an amazing performance tone without making power-stealing backpressure.

  • Tailpipe

The tailpipe serves as the final component of the exhaust system, extending from the muffler to the rear or side of a vehicle. Aftermarket manufacturers commonly enhance the appearance of their tailpipes by adding chrome or polished exhaust tips, which are also available for individual purchase in various shapes and finishes.

Why Should You Upgrade Your Exhaust System?

There are several reasons to upgrade a complete exhaust system. It makes way for a great personalized ride. Every car needs to have an exhaust system to channel the gas from the engine. But the stock exhaust system isn’t that great. Therefore, an aftermarket sports exhaust system is the one. It will be able to deliver several benefits.

While adding a bark is one benefit of upgrading the system, it also adds some bite. The factory system is very restrictive, especially when you make increased power than stock. You get an improved flow with the finest aftermarket exhaust system making more space for fuel and air inside the combustion area.

Here, we list more advantages and add our thoughts in the end-

  • Extra power

When you add an aftermarket exhaust system is that it offers extra power and hence maximized performance. You get to add lots of horsepower to the car by decreasing back pressure because a high level of back pressure can stifle the engine.

  • Sound

This one is not that important for many. Sound depends on your preference, age, and enthusiasm. Many full aftermarket exhaust systems deliver great sound.

  • Better fuel economy

Despite what one might initially think, installing an aftermarket exhaust system can indeed affect the fuel consumption of the engine while in operation. Although the improvement in fuel economy may not be significant, it can still be noticeable, especially if a full exhaust replacement is chosen instead of just axle-back or cat-back replacement.

Our Two Cents

Unless you purchase a top-notch performance car, the factory exhaust parts are made in the cheapest possible way. The right aftermarket exhaust system & drag racing tips can set car racing enthusiasts with long-lasting and high-quality components.

If you’re using your car as a daily driver and it’s in its original, unmodified condition, the stock exhaust system will provide optimal low-end performance. This is particularly relevant because, during most of your driving, you’ll likely operate within this RPM range.

However, if you use it as a track car, it will more make sense to upgrade. If you keep the engine within a high RPM range on a track, it’ll be advantageous in terms of the lack of limitations a bigger exhaust give.

All said and done, it will be more meaningful if you upgrade the engine performance for track cars.

Things to Consider While Buying The Exhaust System

If you have decided to buy a good-quality exhaust system, try to gain sufficient information about them. You should have clarity about what you need, for example, many cars have dual exhausts, and many have a single exhaust. You should also think about the material preferences in terms of price, effects, and installation. If you go for stainless steel, it becomes a pricy option, but it’s resistant to corrosion.

Let’s look in detail at what you should consider before purchasing an exhaust system-

Exhaust types-

Aftermarket exhaust systems are categorized into three types: cat-back, header-back, and axle-back. These systems have various components (already discussed), such as crossover pipes, header or intermediate pipes, mufflers, catalytic converters, and tailpipes. The specific combination of these parts varies depending on the kind of system a consumer chooses. A lot goes into deciding which type is the best for you, not just in terms of maximizing performance. Talk to a car parts expert who can guide you about it in a detailed manner.

Configuration of exhaust systems-

Configuration is another vital consideration for you. The common setups include dual crossover, single, dual, and dual exits, and the most popular one is the single exhaust system that provides a considerable amount of upgrades. The dual exhaust systems are just a minor twist to single exhaust systems. They have almost identical configurations but have no such performance benefit. It is more for styling.

Depending on your requirement, research and choose a suitable one as there are many other less popular configurations available too, like side exit exhaust, dual rear exhaust, single muffler, etc.

Material type-

Aftermarket exhaust systems are available in various materials to cater to different consumer preferences. You can find exhaust systems made from aluminized steel or stainless steel. Overall, the choice of material for an aftermarket exhaust system depends on various factors, such as climate, budget, and desired lifespan. While aluminized steel exhaust systems may be suitable for those on a tight budget, stainless steel exhaust systems offer better long-term value and performance. Ask some car race or car parts professional to guide you with the technicalities so that you get the best results.

Exhaust construction-

Aftermarket exhaust systems are a popular performance upgrade because they reduce restriction, promote exhaust scavenging, and free up more horsepower. They come with larger diameter options, which vary depending on the application and engine size. Unlike stock exhaust systems, which use a crush bending technique that causes performance-robbing restrictions at the pipe bends, aftermarket exhaust systems use a mandrel bending process. This process utilizes a flexible rod that prevents the pipe walls from collapsing or kinking during the bending process, resulting in consistent pipe diameters with no restrictive kinks in the bends. Think about these factors before making a purchase.


Here’s a trick we’ll share with you for any large or small purchase. Whenever seeing or considering something, ask yourself whether you want it or need it. Usually, the want comes out of greed, and the need comes out of basic necessity. While you may argue that the definition of our needs and your need can be different, this question trick usually works wonders when considering price and value. For exhaust systems, you may have to incur the cost of purchasing and installing them.  

Installation Ease-

Another thing to consider is the compatibility levels. Try choosing a system that particularly matches your vehicle model. You need to be sure about the specifications or there may be compatibility issues, leading to a waste of money. Check for information online. You can read reviews about installation and then decide. Knowing about the installation time and ease will also make it better as you will have a shorter wait time. You will not need extra time for welding and cutting. When buying an aftermarket exhaust system, check if it comes with the required accessories and parts. This will make the installation work much simpler.

These are a few things you have to consider for your vehicle. It’s vital to check that many cars have restrictive exhaust construction but work nicely with engines to meet stringent environmental standards. Do your research or ask an expert for details and comparisons.

Test Results From Upgrading A Stock Car Exhaust System

Upgrading a stock car exhaust system can provide several benefits, such as increased horsepower and torque, improved fuel efficiency, and better sound. But to conclude this statement, we did a test as well. After doing specific tests in our workshop, we found some intriguing results. We did a few modifications to the car, like putting a cat-back exhaust system of 2.25 inches diameter rather than stock exhaust having 1.8 inches diameter. After doing this, there was a predictable and interesting difference in the results under three kinds of acceleration-

  • Low RPM- Gear/speed: 3rd (20-40mph)
  • Mid RPM- Gear/speed: 2nd (20-40mph)
  • High RPM- Gear/speed: 1st (2000-6000 RPM)

We could conclude that the stock exhaust was perfect for the low RPM range as it was 0.73% faster. The cat back exhaust worked better once you reach a higher RPM range. It was 3.09% quicker. We further found out that in the 5000-6000 RPM range, cat-back did better.

The test results showed that a well-designed aftermarket exhaust system can provide significant gains in performance and can enhance the driving experience more than the stock exhaust system.

However, it’s also important to consider factors such as local laws and regulations, as some aftermarket exhaust systems may not be legal for road use. Additionally, when taking the test, check for the upgradation cost and the potential impact on the car’s warranty.

Do You Need To Heat Wrap An Exhaust?

Heat wrapping keeps the gases from the exhaust system heated up for a better and more efficient flow. Exhaust insulating wrap is engineered to provide optimal insulation for exhaust pipes, ensuring that hot exhaust gases remain at the ideal temperature for efficient and rapid movement through the exhaust system.

This insulation also helps maintain lower intake temperatures, which can result in improved engine performance and combustion. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when installing and using exhaust insulation wrap to ensure safe and effective results.

Let’s dive a little more deeply to find out if you need to heat-wrap the exhaust or not-

The advantages of heat wrapping:

  • Heat is essentially energy. When you need heat energy to power a car, for instance, a turbocharger, it is sensible to need heat as much as possible. This is one reason why there’s a need for heat wrapping in car race competitions having forced induction. It is also because of this reason that Mercedes kept a small exhaust system for its Formula 1 vehicle, as it takes less time to lose heat and also weighs less. The Miata is a great example of ground-breaking technology in motorsport. It showcases an exposed exhaust that emits heat, which can potentially be harnessed as energy.
  • If the engine bay is extremely hot, the intake temperature increases. Heat wrapping in many cases reduces the temperature of the engine bay and discards extra heat out of the exhaust pipe. An engine typically performs better and produces more power when the intake temperature is lower. You may have heard- the lesser the dense air, the lesser the oxygen resulting in less power. This statement applies here.
  • Wrapping the exhaust with heat-resistant material has the advantage of maintaining high exhaust temperatures, which helps sustain higher exhaust flow velocity. This leads to better exhaust scavenging, as the high-velocity aids in removing the exhaust gases from the engine efficiently.

The drawback of heat wrapping:

After taking a glance at a few warranty terms, it appears that wrapping the exhaust will lead to a canceled warranty for the material. This doesn’t necessarily mean the exhaust will fail, crack or overheat, but it may mean that the product design to resist long-term heat isn’t made correctly. So, if you use the exhaust for short-term purposes, it isn’t a big deal, but if using it as a daily driver, you have to think more deeply. Ideally, you should test the performance levels before and after wrapping. Use the result to determine whether it’s worth it or not.

Our thoughts:

Whether you need to heat wrap is something you have to analyze on your own. The decision of whether to use exhaust wrap on a car depends on factors such as the desired power gain and the addition of forced induction or power modifications to a naturally aspirated engine.

Many vehicles have an adequate cooling system that generally is sufficient to achieve optimal operating temperature for the engine bay. But with more power, there will be more heat generation.

Superchargers and turbochargers also have a negative effect from the heat soak. This reduces the life span and performance of the components dramatically. But if driven aggressively for an extended length of time, as in racetrack and drift applications, even a vehicle running at standard power can experience sufficient exhaust temperatures to damage the engine.

Providing First-class Exhaust System Solutions

When it comes to providing the best, most impressive performance of your life, having a suitable exhaust system is one way to do so. Through this comprehensive aftermarket exhaust system guide, you now have a fair idea of how it can help. So why wait any longer? Get an excellent exhaust system whether you want maximized performance, better sound, or higher efficiency from Red Eye Racecars. You get premium quality and customized parts along with insightful expertise and guidance regarding different kits, car parts, and more. Let this be the beginning of a new era.


Follow Us On Instagram


Verified by MonsterInsights