So you have a snazzy looking truck, but you are afraid that your anemic exhaust tone will make people wonder if it's all show and no go. Then maybe it is time to think about a new exhaust system.
You don't have to look very hard to realize that there are dozens of exhaust products to choose from. The choices run the gamut from generic mufflers to specialized cat-back systems. Before we get into the specifics, let's review a brief lesson on exhaust systems.
Your exhaust system routes hot exhaust gasses away from your engine. Modern vehicles are fitted with a catalytic converter, commonly referred to as a "cat." The converter is a device that uses a catalyst to change harmful compounds (hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides) found in exhaust into less harmful compounds. The muffler serves to keep the noise level down.
The stock exhaust system found on most trucks is a source of restriction. Often the stock pipes are formed using crimped bends that may restrict the smooth flow of your exhaust. Older vehicles can also suffer due to the clogged cat syndrome; the ceramic beads inside the catalytic converter become clogged with deposits and eventually restrict the exhaust flow. Finally, the stock muffler on trucks is designed to keep the exhaust sounds to a minimum without much regard for maximum performance or a powerful tone.
A new exhaust can increase horsepower and torque, as well as change the exhaust tone. Although a free-flowing exhaust can increase power, too much flow is not always a good thing. Engines rely on some amount of back-pressure for desirable performance. A small engine with greatly-oversized exhaust will lose a significant amount of low-end power. With the proper size exhaust and muffler, most trucks can expect to gain 10 to 20-horsepower and similar amounts of torque. Adding a high-flow catalytic converter can net additional gains.
In general, there are two approaches to installing a new exhaust system. The first is a "cat-back" exhaust system. This system replaces the stock exhaust from behind the catalytic converter to the tailpipe. The system is usually sold as a complete kit and incorporates a high-flow muffler. Several manufacturers produce cat-back exhaust systems specifically made for each model of truck. The main benefit to a cat-back exhaust is that the do-it-yourself mechanic can install the system at home, using the supplied clamps. Although installation is usually a clamp-on/bolt-on operation, removing your stock exhaust may require some cutting.
The second approach is to have a custom exhaust system made to suit your needs. This method allows you to choose your own exhaust routing, exit location, muffler, and exhaust tips. Due to the specialized tools needed to bend exhaust pipe and weld the system together, most people won't be able to do a custom installation at home. However a good exhaust shop can help design and install a custom system, and the possibilities are endless.
A few things to consider when planning a new exhaust system include the desired exhaust tone, in-cab noise level, overall fit, materials, exit location, single or dual-exhaust outlets, and any special exhaust routing that may be necessary. After some careful consideration we decided that the truck we were working with, a 1995 Chevrolet C-1500 with a V8 engine, warranted a custom exhaust system. The slammed stance compromised exhaust clearance over the rear axle and would need something other than an off-the-shelf solution.
We decided to take our project truck to the performance exhaust specialists at CGS Motorsports in Pomona, CA. Their experience in custom exhaust system design and installation has been proven time after time, as their work can be found on numerous show-stopping vehicles.
We informed exhaust guru and company owner, Casey Scranton, of our desire for a deep, rumbling exhaust tone with a vicious growl under throttle. In no time he had the truck on the lift and the installation already underway. Follow along as Casey goes to work on our project truck.