How Do Aftermarket Exhausts Improve Vehicle Performance?

Exhausts Improve Vehicle Performance

No vehicle is perfect—none when it comes to exhaust systems. So while a recognizable car example from a globally known company can give you a safe and functional ride, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to enjoy full optimization of its exhaust system.

Installing aftermarket exhaust is one of the best ways to get the most power out of your vehicle. In addition, it helps your vehicle to breathe better. Since there’s better airflow, your vehicle will have more room for fuel, air intake, and horsepower.

Install An Aftermarket Exhaust Now?

First, you need to know that tampering with your vehicle’s stock exhaust system can void your vehicle’s warranty. If you want to take advantage of your warranty, it’s best to wait until it is over. But there are times when you’re better off without warranties too.

Always seek professional help if you’re unsure. For example, if you’re in Australia, you want to check out the Exhaust Systems from Manta Performance. They’ve been in the industry for over 90 years and are the biggest on the continent. 

If you’re unfamiliar with exhausts, this article will break down the basics.

What Does Your Stock Exhaust Do

Car engines deliver power through combustion. Combustion is made from mixing air and fuel in the combustion chamber. While the fuel gets injected, the surrounding air will be sucked into the chamber.

Combustion will then produce exhaust gasses as by-products. These toxic gasses should be removed from the combustion chamber immediately to give more room for fresh air to enter for the next combustion.

Exhaust gasses will then be pushed into a vehicle’s stock exhaust system. This system is designed to direct toxic exhaust gasses from your engine and cabin. An exhaust system mainly consists of the following components:

  1. An exhaust manifold or header that is the entry point of the system;
  2. A CAT or catalytic converter that turns exhaust gasses (i.e., carbon dioxide) into non-toxic (i.e., water vapor);
  3. Pipes, which route air out;
  4. A resonator that rejects sound waves to help the muffler reduce noises; and
  5. A muffler that redirects airflow to eliminate combustion-generated noises.

When the muffler of the exhaust system reduces the noise from the combustion, it restricts exhaust gasses as little as possible so that they can move quickly out of the tailpipe. This causes back pressure, which most engines need to keep air-fuel-ratio as optimal as possible.

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However, back pressure robs power. As a result, the engine will have to use its generated power to cram the exhaust gasses out of the tailpipe rather than use it to run the vehicle. This process could consequently slow down the performance of your vehicle.

How Does An Aftermarket Exhaust Improve Car Performance

When improving a vehicle’s power, the amount of fresh air in the combustion chamber should be increased. This is what an aftermarket exhaust system exactly does. It improves airflow, usually in two ways: (1) decreasing the back pressure and (2) increasing exhaust velocity.

Lower Back Pressure

We’ve mentioned the back pressure earlier. It’s the air pressure found outside a vehicle’s combustion chamber. It should be kept low, so exhaust gasses can easily flow out from the chamber. The easiest way to do that is to widen the diameter of the exhaust pipe.

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The wider the diameter of the exhaust pipe, the more room for air particles, which means lower air pressure outside the combustion chamber. When this happens, exhaust gasses can easily flow out. Then there’ll be more room for fresh air for more powerful combustion.

Increase Exhaust Velocity

As the name implies, exhaust velocity is the speed of exhaust gasses leaving from the exhaust pipe to the outside of the car. With that said, high exhaust velocity means exhaust gasses can escape faster, which means there’ll be an improved airflow for the next combustion.

Now here’s the thing. A narrow exhaust pipe is needed to increase exhaust velocity, which contradicts the recommended wider exhaust pipe for lower back pressure. So what happens if you’re unable to achieve balance?

  • Too wide exhaust pipe – low back pressure but slow exhaust velocity
  • Too narrow exhaust pipe – fast exhaust velocity but high back pressure


Considering these, you want to make sure that the diameter of the exhaust pipe is not too wide and not too narrow. There should be a middle ground. Of course, most aftermarket exhaust companies are very aware of this. They also know that the impact of an aftermarket exhaust varies from car to car, so they can help you find the best for your vehicle.

Final Thoughts

Run a background check on your car model and the exhaust of choice first before purchasing one. But choosing the best exhaust pipe can be a game of compromise. If you’re still new to this department, the Internet can help, but it’s best to ask the experts.

Dylan Miller

I am a Chicago native and regular contributor to "Locar Deals" and "Cars Cache". I have a master's degree in English, am an automobile content creation specialist, and have written professionally for a variety of automotive companies over the past few years. I write on a variety of vehicles, from high-end luxury cars to ten-year-old gas guzzlers and everything in between. And I love sharing valuable car buying tips with consumers from all walks of life.

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