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When Should You Put an Exhaust System on Your Truck?

Jul 14, 2008
If you're a truck owner, you're probably quite familiar with how powerful they are. Trucks are meant to haul and tow heavy loads without strain, which is why they require so much power. Yet most manufacturers equip their trucks with fairly quiet exhaust systems in spite of their powerful engines. If you want your truck's sound to show its power, or you want reduce some of the constrictions in the exhaust, you might want to consider adding to or changing the exhaust system.

Luckily for you, the factory exhaust system on your truck is efficient, and can be easily improved with just a few modifications. The exhaust manifold is the first component of the exhaust system. It directs exhaust from each cylinder together into one or two main exhaust pipes. These are usually fairly efficient and don't need to be replaced. If you decide to change them though, find a good set of headers with ceramic coating and factory mounting points for sensors. Usually though, the factory exhaust manifold will be perfectly fine for your needs.

The next components which the exhaust gases travel through are the catalytic converters. There's really no benefit to changing or modifying these, and taking them off is a bad idea. Today's modern catalytic converter is very efficient and legally required, so it makes sense to leave it alone. You would only consider replacing the factory catalytic if you were adding an extremely powerful engine upgrade, like a turbocharger or supercharger.

The exhaust gases cool a bit as they enter the muffler after going through the catalytic converters. This part of the factory system is usually also perfectly fine, and won't be too restrictive. Replacing the mufflers will probably only result in a small torque gain of 5-10 ft-lbs, and a hp gain of 3-5 hp. Using after market mufflers, however, will make a great change in how your truck sounds. It'll add an exciting roar that easily justifies the cost of the muffler. The exhaust exits the truck out of the tailpipe after the mufflers. Truck owners often like to add tailpipe tips, but these are strictly ornamental, and serve no functional purpose.

Changing the factory muffler on your truck for an after market muffler will make the biggest change to your exhaust system, so it's the obvious move to make. Here are some things to consider about after market mufflers:

First, will you be happy hearing the exhaust ALL the time? If you're not too sure you'll want the background noise to include exhaust drone every time you drive anywhere, try to choose a muffler that's not described as loud. Your local muffler shop and the Internet are useful tools for choosing a muffler that suits your needs. Some muffler manufacturers will even have sound clips on their websites now to help you create that perfect roar.

Second, do you want your muffler to be just loud enough for passersby to hear, or do you want a loud that will make people stop and stare? If you're looking for that extra attention, you'll want a muffler with words like "racing" or "glasspack" in the description. Otherwise, these mufflers may be too loud for your tastes.

Another important choice when considering a new muffler is single or dual exhaust. Remember, most factory exhaust systems are pretty good. If your truck came from the factory with a single exhaust, it will work just fine and give good performance with a single after market exhaust system. Dual exhaust systems cost more money, but they look and sound better than single exhaust systems. If you decide to go with a dual exhaust, make sure that your installer works around your trailer hitch and/or leaves room for one in case you want to add it on later.

Finally, what exhaust system material is best? It's a decision that should be based on geography. If you live anywhere near the corrosive effects of saltwater, stainless steel is the smart choice. While it's more expensive up-front, it will last much longer than galvanized or aluminized steel in these climates. People living in dry climates really don't need to purchase stainless steel - if rust attacks their system, it will be years before anything is damaged.
About the Author
Author Jason Lancaster, an auto business veteran, developed AccurateAutoAdvice.com. You'll find accurate car buying tips and auto advice.
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