Aftermarket exhaust systems

A lot of people ask me if I recommend aftermarket exhaust systems. I thought I would write a quick article so that I could express my opinion. The answer is overall I do not but there are times when using selected aftermarket components are not only okay but may be desirable.

Picture of aftermarket exhaust parts

Aftermarket Exhaust Parts

To sum it up the newer your vehicle is the more efficient its exhaust system will be. Back in the old days we put headers and straight dual exhaust on our vehicles because the factory systems where too small and inefficient.

But because of the increased demand for performance while at the same time increasing fuel economy and keeping engine emissions under control most car manufacturers were forced to design and install some of the most efficient exhaust systems known to mankind on new cars.


Exhaust system components

The various components of a typical exhaust system include the exhaust manifold that bolts directly to the cylinder heads. Again the newer your vehicle the more efficient the exhaust manifold will be. In fact some of the latest manifolds are found to be more efficient than high performance exhaust headers manufactured for some older vehicles.

Picture of resinator and tailpipe

The other major components would be exhaust pipes, seals, Catalytic converters on modern vehicles and they still have mufflers, resonators and tailpipes. They have not done away with heat shields, clamps, brackets, and vehicles going back to the early 80s all have oxygen sensors mounted in the exhaust stream.

Factory exhaust components are all designed to conform to the available space of the vehicle’s undercarriage and to be a safe distance from the road and properly shielded against setting brush-fires from parking over dried leaves and other combustible hazards.


Factory or aftermarket exhausts parts

Picture of aftermarket catalytic converter

Aftermarket Converter

My own personal opinion is I prefer stick with factory replacement exhaust parts. But I always take the time to compare the costs between common exhaust components such as mufflers and resonators and especially catalytic converters. Factory catalytic converters can be very expensive. And if you have a common vehicle like a Chevrolet or a Ford aftermarket replacement parts will probably work well as a direct replacement.

A special note to consider when a catalytic converter is recommended! Some vehicle manufacturers will cover the catalytic converter for seven years or 70,000 miles. Before you agree to replace the catalytic converter make sure it is not covered under a factory warranty.

Also if the catalytic converter is recommended you want to find out why. With oxygen sensors mounted in front of and behind the catalytic converter pinpoint diagnosis of failed converters are very possible. You just want to make sure that your shop has taken the time to perform the diagnosis properly. When in doubt move your vehicle to a dealership for proper diagnosis.

As far as mufflers and resonators these components are susceptible to rotting out from water lying inside the bodies of the parts. My own personal experience has been that aftermarket parts are much cheaper and the quality can be quite good depending on the model of your vehicle.

In the end you’ll have to make your own decision whether it is worth saving a few dollars to use aftermarket exhaust parts. A final note is if you decide to use them the exhaust in some case can sound slightly different after these parts are replaced. For more of the latest posts this next link takes you to the online auto repair blog.


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