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Aftermarket exhaust systems are one of the most common modifications in the automotive aftermarket. Pretty much every application can see performance benefits from an aftermarket exhaust, since most OEM exhaust systems are built as cheaply as possible. Catback exhaust systems are the most popular exhaust upgrade, since they upgrade everything after the catalytic converter.
If you want to increase power and give your car a wild exhaust note, an aftermarket catback exhaust is the way to go. Catback exhausts come in many shapes and sizes, and some feature unique technologies or materials. Deciding what’s best for application depends on your goals, budget, and what kind of sound you want.
What is a Catback Exhaust?
When someone refers to a “catback exhaust,” they are referring to the section of exhaust from the catalytic converter to the tailpipe. In a catback exhaust you’ll typically find one or two mufflers and some also include resonators which help eliminate exhaust drone. Typically, an aftermarket catback exhaust features larger than stock piping and overall improved design compared to a stock catback exhaust.
Many aftermarket catback exhaust systems are constructed from stainless steel or titanium. Some very high-end systems are constructed from Inconel, however, that’s typically something you’ll only see in very high-end applications. With thinner tubing, aftermarket catback exhausts are typically significantly lighter than an OEM catback.
The Performance Benefits
As you might already know, aftermarket exhaust systems are typically marketed as one of the best performance modifications you can install on your vehicle. The idea is that with a less restrictive exhaust, your car gains power because the engine can breathe more efficiently. Things like thermal efficiency, scavenging, velocity, and total flow all matter and can separate a great exhaust from a bad one.
After the engine goes through the intake, compression, and ignition cycles, it now has hot gases it needs to expel in order to continue the cycle. The exhaust valve opens and the piston comes up, forcing the air out of the engine and into the exhaust system. These gasses are extremely hot as they are the byproduct of an explosion and they come through the exhaust system in rapid pulses. The purpose of the exhaust system is to route these potentially harmful gasses away from the cab of the vehicle.
Since an aftermarket exhaust system uses larger diameter piping, exhaust gas flow is improved which helps exhaust gases exit the cylinder with less restriction. There are a lot of misconceptions that too large of an aftermarket exhaust will actually decrease power because supposedly there isn’t enough back pressure, but this is entirely false. Decreasing the pressure as much as possible results in greater flow which allows the exhaust gases to be forced out of the cylinder easier. With too large of piping or a poorly designed exhaust system, however, exhaust scavenging can be decreased which will result in decreased flow.
Some aftermarket catback exhaust systems, such as an exhaust system from Armytrix, features a valved muffler. With a valved muffler, you can choose to route exhaust gases through or around the mufflers, which means you can effectively make your car louder or quieter whenever you want!