Aftermarket exhausts are one of the most sought-after performance vehicle upgrades that thousands of gearheads around the country get every year. If this fact is mind-boggling to you and you’re wondering why would people spend money on an aftermarket exhaust system when they have a working stock exhaust, the reasons are many and in my opinion, completely justifiable. Stock exhaust systems are usually restrictive, as they aren’t made with performance in mind, but rather, affordability. Every vehicle manufacturer is looking to find ways to make their vehicle more affordable in order to compete with other manufacturers. Oftentimes, one of the ways they accomplish this is by using cheaper materials and manufacturing techniques in the exhaust system department. That being said, let’s compare how each and every piece of the stock exhaust system differs from aftermarket exhaust systems.
The exhaust tips are the only part of the exhaust system you can see when a vehicle is passing through. Their purpose is to act as the gateway for the exhaust gases from the engine into the atmosphere and to make your vehicle look good. Stock exhaust tips, while fully functional, look just like every other exhaust tip on the same type of vehicle you got. Aftermarket exhaust tips, on the other hand, come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and finishes, allowing you to make your vehicle stand out from the crowd. That being said, aftermarket exhaust tips play a huge role in how your vehicle looks, but there’s not much more to them than that.
The mufflers are the parts of the exhaust system that are responsible for reducing the noise produced. Stock exhaust mufflers muffle the sound, whereas aftermarket exhaust mufflers don’t necessarily do that. Some people want their vehicle to sound more aggressive, which aftermarket exhaust mufflers make possible. Similarly to exhaust tips, exhaust mufflers don’t play a role in the performance of the vehicle, just in the way it sounds. Aftermarket ones can produce a deep growl, or a high pitch noise – depending on what model you go for. You can see what each aftermarket exhaust muffler sounds on YouTube so that you can make a better-informed choice.
Catalytic converters have the purpose of reducing the harmful emissions released from the engine which are a result of the combustion process into less harmful emissions before releasing them into the atmosphere. That being said, the catalytic converter arguably plays the most crucial role in the exhaust system. Stock catalytic converters are great at what they do, but aftermarket ones are even better. A high-flow aftermarket catalytic converter is much more efficient, which means that the exhaust gases released from the engine are cleansed and released into the atmosphere faster and are cleaner.
Exhaust Manifolds (Extractors)
The exhaust manifolds or extractors are responsible for extracting the emissions created in the engine and pass them through the exhaust system. Stock manifolds and extractors are restrictive, simply because they aren’t designed to optimally draw the exhaust gases, and that creates backpressure and robs your engine of potential power. Aftermarket extractors, on the other hand, feature a tube for every cylinder of the engine, which makes them more efficient at extracting the exhaust gases and passing them through the exhaust system.
Stock exhaust pipes are usually restrictive due to their small diameter. Aftermarket exhaust pipes, on the other hand, have a wider diameter, which simply means there’s more room for gases to pass through. Furthermore, stock exhaust pipes are made using a cheap bending technique known as crush bending, which causes changes in the profile and inner diameter of the pipes. Aftermarket exhaust pipes are made using mandrel bending, which incorporates a mandrel being placed inside the tube when the bend is made, which keeps the profile and diameter of the pipe virtually unchanged.
All of the aforementioned parts are made with some kind of steel. Usually, stock exhaust systems are made using mild steel, whereas aftermarket exhaust systems are made using stainless or aluminised steel. Mild steel pales in terms of performance and durability when compared to aluminised and stainless steel. The latter two feature great strength, corrosion-resistance properties, and they perform great under extreme heat and in all types of weather. Aluminised steel is lightweight, which makes it one of the most popular aftermarket exhaust system materials. Stainless steel, on the other hand, is heavier, but arguably the best material there is. Although it comes at a higher price, stainless steel will probably outlast the life of your vehicle. There are two popular types of stainless steel that exhausts can be manufactured from, namely T304 and T409. T409 is the most popular option, as it’s more affordable, whereas T304 is more expensive and superior in almost every way. Most stainless steel exhaust systems you’ll find on the market are made using T409 steel.