There are many different reasons why someone would want to upgrade their stock exhaust system with an aftermarket one. Improved performance, durability and reduced fuel consumption are just some of these reasons. But you can’t just get any aftermarket exhaust system and expect it to perform better than your stock one. You need to get specialised 4×4 performance exhaust systems that are built using high-quality materials and cutting-edge technology, especially if you want to traverse through the rugged Australian terrains with confidence. That being said, here’s what you need to know before you start looking.
Exhaust systems are generally made with steel. However, there are many different types of steel, and based on your driving habits and the type of terrain you intend to drive on, your choice will vary. The most popular types of steel include aluminised and stainless steel. Aluminised steel provides the benefit of being lightweight, while still relatively durable and resistant to the elements. Due to its lightweight nature, an aluminised steel exhaust will provide the most benefits in the fuel consumption department. On the other hand, stainless steel is heavier, tougher and more resistant to the elements. A stainless steel 4×4 performance exhaust system will cost you more, but you can expect it to outlast your vehicle. There are two basic grades of stainless steel – T409 and T304. T409 steel is the more popular one, as it’s more affordable and made specifically for exhaust manufacturing. T304 steel is of higher grade, but it’s very expensive, and mostly used in the military and aircraft manufacturing industries.
The bending techniques used in the manufacturing process of the exhaust system can make or break it. Your stock exhaust system is probably made using crush bending. Crush bending, also known as compression bending, is performed with the help of a radius die and backing shoes. As a result, you get functional pipes that feature a bend inside the radius. What this means is that the pipe is stretched, while the inside is contracted, resulting in depressions along the inside of the pipe, restricting some of the airflow. The only reason why this bending technique is used by most car manufacturers is to cut costs, as it’s the most economical option available.
Mandrel bending, on the other hand, is the technique used by most aftermarket performance manufacturers. This bending technique includes a mandrel being placed inside the pipe to support the inner walls of the pipe as it’s swept through the backing shoe and die. As a result, you get pipes that are free of diameter changes, providing for a smoother, uninterrupted exhaust pipe that allows for optimum airflow.
Types of Exhaust Kits
You’ll come across three types of exhaust kits based on how many components they include and replace: header-back, cat-back and axle-back. Header-back exhaust systems, as their name implies, replace every single part from your stock exhaust system and thus, offer the most advantages. Of course, they’re also the most expensive type of kit, but you’ll get the best and longest performance out of them. Cat-back exhaust systems, on the other hand, replace all the parts after the catalytic converter. They provide moderate results and come at a moderate cost. Lastly, axle-back exhaust systems replace parts from the rear axle, which includes just the tip and the axle pipes. Axle-back exhaust systems are bought not for their performance gains, but for the way they make your vehicle look. They’re the most affordable upgrade, and you can install them yourself, if you’re handy with a few basic tools and know your way around cars.
Consider the Fit
No matter whether you go for an aluminised or stainless steel exhaust, an exhaust with crush or mandrel bends, a header-back, cat-back or axle-back exhaust, it’s important you consider whether that particular system will be a proper fit for your vehicle. While there are universal exhaust kits, many aftermarket manufacturers make their systems so that they’re compatible with particular vehicle models, makes and years. This is to ensure a proper fit and clearance. An improperly fit exhaust system will not only result in performance losses, but it can also be quite dangerous. You can get leaks, hit it over bumps, and so on. For that reason, you should consult with an experienced mechanic and see whether the exhaust kit you’re considering is suitable for your vehicle.
Aftermarket exhaust systems are one of the most sought-after performance upgrades for vehicles. This is because they’re relatively affordable, yet provide the most performance upgrade, while reducing fuel consumption and increasing engine longevity. This is because they allow your engine to get in cooler air, while making sure the toxic exhaust fumes leave the system as quickly as possible. All you have to do is make sure you pick the right exhaust system for your vehicle, and have it installed properly.