How To Pick The Best Exhaust System For Your Import Car

How To Pick The Best Exhaust System For Your Import Car

With your air intake upgraded, you now need to focus on your exhaust system. There are many options when it comes to upgrading your exhaust, and we will be discussing the main ones here.

Exhaust System Basics

The main reason you need to upgrade your exhaust is to allow more air to flow though your engine. And, with more air coming into your engine, you need a way to expel more waste air out.

Your first option is to just upgrade the muffler. Now, it will add a cool sound to your sport compact. Just upgrading your muffler won’t give you that much of a boost in horsepower.

A better option is to add an cat-back exhaust which includes a muffler and pipes that connect to your catalytic converter. This type of system is often called a “cat-back” exhaust because, as it’s name implies, is stretched from the CATalytic convert all the way BACK to the muffler. Popular brands include APEXi, DC Sports, GReddy, Flowmaster, and HKS.

With a cat-back exhaust system the factory pipes are replaced by larger ones that are specifically designed to allow for much greater airflow that a modified engine requires. And, the muffler that comes in the kit is specifically designed to work well with the new pipes.

Bottom Line: Cat-back exhaust systems allow for much more airflow than just adding a new muffler ever could. Stick with a top brand name and make sure it fits your car.

How To Choose The Best Exhaust Header For Your Import Car

With the end of your exhaust system upgraded, you now need to focus on the start of the exhaust – the header. There are many good options when it comes to upgrading your exhaust header, and we’ll discuss your best options here.

What exactly is a header?

A header is a series of pipes that take exhaust gases out of your engine. These pipes allow for much greater airflow than your stock manifold.

And, by adding a header to your already upgraded exhaust system, you get the airflow necessary to ad some serious horsepower.

There are several variations of headers. This is usually based on the number cylinders in your engine and the number of joins in the pipes.

For example: In a four-cylinder engine, there are 4-1 headers and 4-2-1 headers. In a 4-1 setup, the four pipes coming out of your engine join together to form one exhaust pipe. In a 4-2-1 setup, the four pipes join to form two; then those two join to form one.

Many top import H&S Mini Maxx Tuner say that the more joins your header has the smoother the air will flow. I would agree, but the cost of a 4-2-1 may be too much for someone just starting out in import tuning. Plus the extra expense might not bring with it any noticeable power gains.

After leaving the header, the exhaust travels a few feet and then into the catalytic converter. If you need to squeeze a few extra horsepower out of your engine and you have the extra cash, you should also upgrade your catalytic converter at this time.

Bottom line: Adding an exhaust header to your engine will give you a nice boost in horsepower, but more importantly it will give you enough airflow to add some serious horsepower upgrades (NOS and/or Turbo) later on.

What You Need To Know To Choose A Cold Air Intake

Building a fast car starts with a cold air intake. But what does it do? Why do you need one? And, how do you decide which one is right for your car?

The first step in getting the most performance from your import car is to allow it to breathe better. The more air it takes in, the more air is available to make power. (With this increase in airflow in, comes the need for an upgraded exhaust system. We’ll talk more about that on the next page.)

You have several choices when it comes to air intakes systems, but…

A Cold Air Intake Is THE Best Option!

You could upgrade just your air filter to allow for more flow. This is the cheapest option, but it also gives you the fewest advantages. You will probably not see or feel much difference in power by just upgrading your stock filter.

The next option would be to go with a short air intake system link AEM’s Short Ram or K&N;’s Typhoon. This option is a little more expensive than just upgrading the filter. It will definitely add a few horsepower and a really cool sound to your engine. The filter that comes with these systems is designed to be less restrictive, and the tubes are designed to be less constrictive than the factory inlet track. The only problem is that the air filter is still trapped in the engine compartment where it sucks in nothing but hot air. (Hot air is very restrictive to your engine’s performance.)

The best option is to go with a full-blown cold air intake because it gives you the best possible airflow while allowing colder air into you engine. Colder air lets your engine produce more power from the same amount of fuel because the engine doesn’t have to work as hard.

How Do Cold Air Intake Systems Work?

Best Cold Air intake systems relocate the filter outside of the engine compartment for a cooler intake charge and more power over the rpm range.

As you can see, the filter is not inside the engine compartment. Rather, it is below the engine where it can allow the speed of your car to help force cold air into the engine.

One word of caution: Don’t go down to your local automotive store or hardware store and buy some tubing to make your own system. There are plenty of excellent kits on the market that are custom made to fit your vehicle. And, they have everything you need to install it properly.

Bottom Line: The short air intake systems are a good starting point, if you can’t afford a cold air intake. But, I’d strongly recommend spending the extra money and getting the cold air intake. The increased airflow and reduced temperature of the air are well worth the price. You won’t regret it.


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