10 Best Exhaust Systems – Reviews & Buying Guide
The exhaust system is one of the most important parts of a vehicle. It ensures its smooth functioning by allowing the vehicle to evacuate fumes and noise away from the motor block.
They also make the vehicle more environmentally-friendly by filtering out harmful gases.
In addition, some of the best exhaust systems on the market also produce a sportier sound that you will not get with a factory-fitted exhaust system.
- How the Exhaust System Works
- Reasons to Purchase an After-Market Exhaust System
- 10 Best Exhaust Systems – Reviews
- 1. MagnaFlow 15160 Performance Exhaust System
- 2. MagnaFlow 15155 Exhaust System
- 3. Invidia HS12SSTGTT N1 Exhaust System
- 4. Borla 11795 Rear Section Exhaust System
- 5. Borla 140595 S-Type Cat-Back Exhaust System
- 6. MBRP S6004PLM Exhaust System
- 7. MBRP S6100PLM Turbo Exhaust System
- 8. Gibson 17303-B Performance Exhaust System
- 9. Borla 140616 ATAK Exhaust System
- 10. Flowmaster 817674 409S Exhaust System
- How to Buy the Best Exhaust System
How the Exhaust System Works
The main function of the exhaust system is to evacuate both noise and fumes away from the motor block.
Fumes are a byproduct of fuel being burnt in the engine block. Without proper evacuation, the engine will choke and underperform.
Those fumes follow the exhaust manifold where they are combined in one pipe and processed appropriately in the cylinder head.
While this might sound like a simple task, there are actually quite a few complex parts in the exhaust system that allows it to work efficiently.
Indeed, for starters, a modern exhaust system is comprised of parts like the catalytic filter in the cylinder head that helps filter out harmful gases that come out of the motor.
In turn, the vehicle outputs a more environmentally-friendly gas.
Moreover, the muffler is another vital part of the exhaust system. It is the endmost portion that is responsible for dampening the noise to tolerable levels.
The muffler also uplifts the sound emitted by the vehicle, providing it with a sportier sound and feel when compared to a factory-fitted exhaust system.
Reasons to Purchase an After-Market Exhaust System
Durable and long-lasting: It is made from a special stainless-steel metal that can withstand heat and humidity for an extended period of time.
It will also last a long time because this is a very durable metal.
Better Sound Quality: You will enjoy a sportier sound with an aftermarket exhaust system. In turn, this will add more resale value to your vehicle.
Environment-Friendly: The catalytic converters in an aftermarket exhaust system is usually bigger and superior in terms of technology and efficiency to a factory-fitted exhaust system.
Therefore, it also outputs a cleaner fume that is harmless to both the environment and the driver.
Easy to Install: You do not need complex tools or advanced skills to install an aftermarket exhaust system. They are easy to install by beginners and can be done in less than an hour.
You don’t even need to solder because most top-rated exhaust systems actually use a fitting system where the connectors are tightly secured by metal O-Rings.
10 Best Exhaust Systems – Reviews
1. MagnaFlow 15160 Performance Exhaust System
2. MagnaFlow 15155 Exhaust System
Ford Focus ST
3. Invidia HS12SSTGTT N1 Exhaust System
Subaru BR-Z, Scion FR-S
4. Borla 11795 Rear Section Exhaust System
5. Borla 140595 S-Type Cat-Back Exhaust System
6. MBRP S6004PLM Exhaust System
Extended Cab Truck, Crew Cab Truck
7. MBRP S6100PLM Turbo Exhaust System
Dodge Ram 2500
8. Gibson 17303-B Performance Exhaust System
9. Borla 140616 ATAK Exhaust System
Extended Cab Truck, Crew Cab Truck
10. Flowmaster 817674 409S Exhaust System
Powder coated and very durable
Editor's Rating: (4.5 / 5)
- Fits: Jeep Wrangler
The MagnaFlow 15160 is a dual exhaust system that is made to fit the Jeep Wrangler. Since this exhaust system is made from stainless steel, it is very durable and long-lasting.
But additionally, it is black powder coated which will protect it from humidity, salt fog, and high temperatures.
You also get excellent resistance against corrosion that can occur from any liquid that this exhaust system comes in contact with.
What really separates this model from the rest of the competition is its bolt-on installation. Fitment is perfect, and as long as your vehicle matches this exhaust system, you will have absolutely no difficulty installing it.
Moreover, you have a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer, so you have nothing to lose. Of course, you get all installation accessories out of the box.
You may need an additional rubber grommet to install this exhaust system or else it may have a poor fit.
If you don’t get a rubber grommet, you can perform a custom DIY job to attach the exhaust system more firmly to your Jeep’s base
Powerful exhaust system for enthusiasts
Editor's Rating: (5 / 5)
- Fits: Ford Focus ST
If you need the best aftermarket exhaust system for a Ford Focus ST, there are few models that can beat the MagnaFlow 15155.
Not only is the sound of this exhaust system powerful, but it is also very efficient. It will allow your vehicle’s motor to evacuate fumes in a quick and easy manner.
In addition, you will also see a slight improvement in the overall performance of your vehicle because the motor is a little bit more efficient with this exhaust system fitted on.
When it comes to building construction, there is nothing to worry about as it is made from stainless steel. It will not rust or corrode and will provide you with a long lifespan.
Installation is also very easy as this is a fit-on model and no welding is required.
Exhaust tip coated with titanium
Editor's Rating: (4.9 / 5)
- Fits: Subaru BR-Z, Scion FR-S
Both the Subaru BR-Z and the Scion FR-S are powerful and legendary vehicles. Obviously, they need a heavy-duty and tough exhaust system to match.
This is where models like the Invidia comes into play. It is a stainless-steel exhaust system that will not rust or corrode over time. Moreover, the tip of this exhaust system is coated with titanium so that it can withstand the heat.
Once installed on a compatible vehicle, this exhaust system will immediately improve its sound as well as motor and efficiency. You should technically observe a small increase in performance as well.
All in all, this model by Invidia is one of the best cat-back exhaust systems that you will find in this review. Get it if you own a Subaru BR-Z or a Scion FR-S.
This exhaust system comes as one single unit with individual parts welded together.
You may require the help of another person for the installation because it is quite heavy and difficult to maneuver single-handedly
Add resale value to any Corolla vehicle
Editor's Rating: (4.9 / 5)
- Fits: Corolla S/XRS
One problem with the Corolla S or XRS is that it tends to have poor resale value. One way around that is to install an exhaust system like this Borla 11795.
It will immediately provide it with greater resale value as well as produce a sportier sound than the factory fitted exhaust system. You will also find that you gain a few additional performances with it.
This is mostly because the motor now is able to run more efficiently than before. As always, installation of this exhaust system is very easy, and all that you would require for its installation is the provided bolts and a wrench.
Make your Subaru WRX more performing
Editor's Rating: (4.7 / 5)
- Fits: Subaru WRX
The Borla 140595 has been made specifically for the Subaru WRX. Not only does it provide a tight fitment for this vehicle, but the sound is also phenomenal.
In fact, most users who have installed this exhaust system on their Subaru simply cannot go back to other types of exhaust system because its sound is superior to others.
Additionally, the stainless-steel build construction of this exhaust system makes it very durable and long-lasting. It will not corrode or rust over time.
When it comes to installation, no problem there, as well as most components can be fitted together. All you will need is to tighten them with the provided metal O-rings.
If you own a Subaru WRX or any other compatible vehicle, then the Borla 140595 is simply the best performance exhaust system for this vehicle. We highly recommend it!
This cat-back exhaust system is not compatible with anything other than a Subaru WRX
Simple and yet very loud exhaust system
Editor's Rating: (4.6 / 5)
- Fits: Extended Cab Truck, Crew Cab Truck
One of the biggest advantages of this exhaust system is that it has an almost universal fit any truck with an extended cab or a crew cab.
But what really separates this exhaust system from the rest of the compassion is that it contains no muffler. Since it has no muffler, you can expect the sound to be very loud.
However, this sacrifices exhaust efficiency and may slightly increase your fuel consumption.
But if you are trying to retrofit your truck with an aftermarket exhaust system for sound alone, this model is definitely unbeatable because it is one of the loudest models in this exhaust system review.
Additionally, you will have no problem installing this exhaust system because all you will need are regular tools. No complicated welding will be necessary.
When installing this exhaust system on your truck, you need to be careful with the provided pinch clamps because they can easily break. If they do, you will have difficulty holding the exhaust in place.
Loud and high performance
Editor's Rating: (4.5 / 5)
- Fits: Dodge Ram 2500
The MBRP S6100PLM is a variant of the MBRP exhaust system we have just reviewed above. Indeed, this model is compatible with the Dodge Ram 2500 and not just about any type of extended or crew cab.
Once installed on your Dodge Ram 2500, you will find that it produces a very powerful sound as well as help increase your fuel economy.
One caveat with this exhaust system, just like the previous another one, is that it does not have a muffler, so it is incredibly loud. This can be an advantage, or a disadvantage if you care about the environment.
Due to the large size of the pipe, your motor is able to evacuate fumes more quickly, which will add a few horsepowers to your vehicle.
If you want a loud exhaust for your Dodge Ram 2500 at a reasonable price, then this model is most certainly one of the loudest exhaust systems that you can buy.
Compatible with almost all Jeeps
Editor's Rating: (4.3 / 5)
- Fits: Universal Jeep
The problem with exhaust systems these days is that most of them are made for a specific type of vehicle.
This is not a problem for the Gibson 17303-B because it has been designed so as to offer a wider fit to almost any Jeep on the market.
In addition, the build construction of this exhaust system is simply superb as it is made from a mild steel material and black powder coated for aesthetics.
This exhaust system has been made in the USA, so you are definitely getting a high-quality product here.
The 4 inches exhaust outlet will produce a loud and sporty sound while the 2.5 inches tube is enough so as to quickly and easily evacuate fumes from your motor.
This makes your Jeep motor run more efficiently, and you will even observe an improvement in mileage.
All in all, if you own a Jeep and want to improve its sound as well as efficiency, the Gibson 17303-B is one of the best sounding exhaust systems for your need.
You may need to improvise and perform some DIY installation for this exhaust system because it may not have the necessary fitting for your Jeep
Premium exhaust system for any truck
Editor's Rating: (4.3 / 5)
- Fits: Extended Cab Truck, Crew Cab Truck
If you own an extended cab or crew cab, then you need a powerful exhaust system to match such a big truck. The Borla 140616 delivers both a loud sound as well as an improved efficiency for your vehicle.
This Cat-Back exhaust system is easy to install and made from stainless steel so it will not corrode or rust. If you normally drive your truck in wet terrains, then this exhaust system is an excellent choice.
Furthermore, it will also help improve mileage and efficiency to your truck. The only caveat we have is its price. Indeed, it is the most expensive model we have in this review.
However, if the price is not an issue, then the Borla 140616 one of the best performance exhaust system for the money. We highly recommend it!
Moderate sound but the big warranty
Editor's Rating: (3.9 / 5)
- Fits: Jeep Wrangler
The Flowmaster 817674 was not designed to be the loudest exhaust system on the market. Quite the contrary as this model focuses more on efficiency and building construction.
It is made from stainless steel which you will not corrode or rust, and offer you with a long lifetime.
Additionally, the large pipes will allow your motor to very easily evacuate fumes which in turn translate to greater efficiency to your vehicle.
But what we really like about this exhaust system is that it comes with a lifetime warranty by the manufacturer.
You have very little to lose by choosing this exhaust system. As long as your vehicle matches this exhaust, go get it!
You may need to perform some cutting at strategic places on the pipe for it to have a perfect fit. We recommend you get professional help if you are not sure how to do it
How to Buy the Best Exhaust System
Before finding the best aftermarket exhaust system for the money, there are some important factors that you need to consider.
If you don’t, you might end up with an exhaust system that is either incompatible with your vehicle or degrade the performance of your vehicle altogether.
#1. Types of Exhaust System
There are several types of exhaust systems on the market. Here are the typical ones:
Header-Back: The header back is normally a single unit that starts from the handle collector and ends at the tailpipes.
This is an all-inclusive system which replaces most of the components in a factory fitted exhaust system.
One of the biggest advantages of the header back is its simplicity as well as how easy it is to install on your vehicle.
However, the main disadvantage is that the header back exhaust system is usually more expensive when compared to other types of exhaust systems on the market.
Cat-Back: This type of exhaust system tries to replace most components starting from the catalytic converter.
It usually has a special type of muffler and can come as either a long pipe or short pipe, depending on the model that you choose.
The biggest advantage of the Cat-Back exhaust system is its excellent price to performance ratio.
Indeed, this type of exhaust system is regarded by experts and beginners alike as being one of the best aftermarket exhaust systems when it comes to price.
Axel-Back: This type of exhaust system looks like a traditional factory fitted exhaust system. However, its main difference is found inside and not outside.
It is not as efficient or produces a deep sound when compared to the other types of exhaust systems.
Nevertheless, it is significantly cheaper when compared to other types of exhaust systems and is incredibly easy to install.
#2. Exhaust Construction
The exhaust build construction of an aftermarket exhaust system is very different from a factory fitted one.
In general cases, an aftermarket exhaust system will have larger diameter pipes that are able to evacuate more air volume from the motor block.
Additionally, the aftermarket exhaust system will produce a deeper sound because of its larger diameter.
But the diameter of the pipes is not everything. You still have to consider the method used to construct the pipe of your aftermarket exhaust system.
There are 2 different types of bends used in the making of your aftermarket exhaust system pipe:
Crush Bends: The crush bends is the cheaper and fastest way to bend and exhaust pipe.
This is the same technique used to bend the exhaust pipe of a factory fitted exhaust system.
It is cheap and relatively easy to do. The problem with this type of bend is that it is not as efficient or performing when compared to the Mandrel bend.
This is mostly because the Crush bend suffers from vibrations and some performance restrictions at the bends area.
Mandrel Bends: The Mandrel bend is regarded by many as being a superior type of bend used in the aftermarket exhaust system.
It basically uses a flexible rod inside the pipe so as to absorb vibrations and provide more rigidity to the pipe.
Therefore, the Mandrel bend offers you a superior performance because the bends are more durable and vibrate less.
This gives an exhaust system equipped with a Mandrel bend a sportier sound as well as superior performance.
#3. Exhaust Configuration
You may have noticed that the aftermarket exhaust system comes as either a single or dual exhaust.
The single exhaust is the most popular type, and since it is equipped with a single exhaust pipe, as well as a single modular, it is able to produce a deeper sound.
With the dual exhaust system, you do not get any actual real-life performance gain, but it is mostly for aesthetics.
However, the dual exhaust system is quite popular in hot rodding, and it is the preferred model for many car enthusiasts despite its negligible performance gain.
The dual exhaust is also considered by many as the best exhaust system for the money, but mostly because of its looks.
#4. Exhaust Material
The exhaust system is usually exclusively made from 2 types of materials. Mild steel and stainless steel.
Mild Steel: One of the biggest advantages of an exhaust system made from mild steel is its cost.
Indeed, it is much more affordable since a smaller amount of steel is used in its build construction.
Nevertheless, its big disadvantage is that an exhaust system made from mild steel will rust and corrode over time as it is not as durable as a stainless-steel exhaust system.
Stainless-Steel: Stainless steel is a costly metal, but when used in an exhaust system, it offers greater durability as well as resistance to corrosion and rust.
It is also more aesthetically pleasing when compared to an exhaust system made from mild steel.
The main disadvantage remains its steep price.
There are several reputable brands that make aftermarket exhaust systems.
It is important to always choose an aftermarket exhaust system made by a reputable brand over a no-name model, even if you have to pay a little bit more.
You cannot go wrong with top-rated exhaust system brands like MagnaFlow, Flowmaster, or Borla, to name a few.
The aftermarket exhaust system will immediately make any vehicle sound like a sports car.
Best, this kit will also add some greater value to your vehicle, so it’s great for those planning to sell their vehicle down the line.
Furthermore, most exhaust systems have been designed in such a way that they are easy to install. You will only need basic tools that you will commonly encounter in any garage.
And lastly, if you have read our exhaust system review above and you’re still not decided yet on which type of exhaust system to buy, then we recommend you read the review again.