The exhaust system plays a major role in the performance of your motor vehicle. If you are reading this article, it is very likely that you are a car enthusiast and you are quite knowledgeable when it comes to this subject. But anyway, I will explain how an exhaust systems works for all the newbies out there who are thinking of making some upgrades to their vehicle.
So, when the car is running, the engine produces waste gasses that need to be expelled and this is basically the job of the exhaust. But there is more to an exhaust system than just expelling gasses. It also affects the noise that your car produces, fuel consumption, engine power, and reduces harmful emissions. It does all this through a series of pipes and boxes, mainly, the header, catalytic converter, downpipes, and the muffler.
The header is bolted to the engine head with a separate pipe attached to each cylinder. It collects the gas from multiple cylinders and combines it into a single pipe. The downpipe runs under the car and connects the header to the muffler. The catalyst converter or simply known as the “cat”, is located between the header and the muffler and its job is to reduce the emissions of harmful gasses into the atmosphere.
A car engine produces six different gasses as emissions and three of them (carbon monoxide, nitrogen monoxide, and nitrogen oxide) are highly toxic. The catalytic converters turn these gasses into oxigen nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and water vapor. If you plan on upgrading you exhaust system, it is best to leave the cat since it doesn’t significantly reduce the power of your vehicle and in most countries it is required by law to have one installed when you are driving on public roads. If you want to get maximum power out of your engine, you can get performance headers and of course, you can replace the most recognizable component of the exhaust system – the muffler. The muffler controlls the tone that your car produces. Factory mufflers are usually designed to silence you car as much as possible. With aftermarket mufflers you can get the exact tone you want to hear when you rev the engine.
When it comes to materials, stainless steel exhaust systems is the way to go. Your other option is mild steel that is often zinc coated. Mild steels is much cheaper but it is also doesn’t last as much as stainless steel exhaust systems due to rust. As you probably know, stainless steel does not rust or at least it does so incredibly slowly which is why most stainless steel exhaust systems have a lifetime guarantee.
Another benefit of stainless steel is the attractive polished finish as opposed to the dull finish of mild steel. This polished finish should last for a long time with proper maintenance. The only down side of stainless steel and it is actually not that big of a deal, is that it gets hotter quickly and it expands noticeably. This means that after a period of time the joints might get loose and you might get a rattle. But this can be avoided by using compression clamps rather than bolted unions. Overall you will find that stainless steel exhaust systems are totally worth the extra price you pay.