Do You Know How Do Upgraded Exhaust Systems Increase Power?

If you thought that a bigger exhaust system meant more power, it’s not always true. Some drivers want an exhaust that will improve the sound and look of their vehicle. But, if your goal is to increase the top performance exhaust of your vehicle, consider the points below:

1. What are the parts of an Exhaust System and what do they do?

  • Exhaust Manifold/Header: This is the first point of contact for the exhaust gases after they exit the cylinder head. Typically, heavy cast manifolds are swapped out for tubular headers.

  • Catalytic Converter: This device takes the incoming NOx, CO, and unburnt hydrocarbons from the exhaust and “converts” them into much less harmful N2, O2, CO2, and H2O.

  • Piping: Routes the air away from the vehicle so the passenger cabin doesn’t fill with toxic fumes.

  • Resonator: Not necessarily part of the exhaust system, the resonator helps eliminate noise by rejecting sound waves and canceling each other out.

  • Muffler: The muffler also works to eliminate noise by redirecting the airflow through porous pipes, allowing the exhaust gases to expand into sound deadening material, minimizing the noise that finally exits the tailpipe.

2. To upgrade or to not upgrade?

It’s important to understand that the velocity at which your exhaust exits is one of the key elements to its performance. The idea behind upgrading typically comes down to increasing the exhaust piping diameter as well as increasing exhaust scavenging by aligning the exhaust pulses in a favorable fashion. 

When your engine is at low RPM, the amount of exhaust gases leaving is low, so the velocity at it exits the muffler is low. You can increase this velocity by using a smaller pipe, but this creates a restriction for running at higher RPMs.