How to build the best tuned exhaust for 2022
With that settled, let’s start with the simplest upgrade: the tailpipes. Exhaust tips are analogous to the horn of a brass instrument. After choosing a style that suits your car, leave them adjustable and take a few laps around town. Adjusting the length and angle of your tips can make all the difference, so it’s a matter of trial and error. Don’t forget to spot weld them for safety, ask me how I know ….
Now let’s talk about silencers. Your stock system is heavy because it’s designed to remove as much sound as possible, and it does this with chambers. Each cancels out a certain frequency, which has made the 2 and 3 bedroom designs very popular for everyday use. Those of us who live on the edge often replace our silencers with a resonator. Their job is to keep the sounds from being hoarse while keeping the drone out of the interior. Informally known as glass packs, they can be ordered lengthwise and easily installed at home.
The active exhaust uses valves to bypass the muffler, giving you more performance and better sound. If you want to join the club, a cutout offers an interesting solution. Operated by the throttle position or manually, you can be quiet while cruising and rage when you lower the hammer. The best systems even include a key fob to unlock your hoses at remote start, smiles are guaranteed. Running a short length of pipe angled toward the ground will keep the vapors from choking you, and the “turndown” delivers a vintage roar.
The next biggest determining factor in your sound is dual or single systems. A “true double” exhaust is divided from left to right, each cylinder head making its own music. While popular in the past, keeping them separate leaves power on the table. An H-tube is used to equalize the impulses of each bank while fine-tuning the sound. An X-pipe is the ultimate example, but it takes skill to route them around the drivetrain and suspension components. This Borla example is designed for recent 5-liter Mustang models to maximize throughput and match every bank.
Going forward we reach the most controversial parts of any exhaust. Every car sold after 1975 has some form of catalytic converter. Loaded with rare and expensive metals, they reduce nitrogen oxides by burning leftover fuel. They force the exhaust gases through a metal honeycomb, much like a handful of straws. Deleting them is not only illegal, but it will also trigger your Service Engine Light immediately. In an ideal world, an owner could dig them out using a chisel and then sell the platinum for a net profit. That is why thieves steal them in many urban areas,
Finally, we reach the most important exhaust component: the manifolds. Your home collectors force every impulse to wait in line, much like airport security. Headers allow each pulse to travel an equal length, allowing the engine to run faster and improving the appearance of your engine bay. However, not all headers are created equal, literally. Equal-length headers provide great power at any rpm, but some of us like to push the limits.
An adjusted length header will take the engine firing order into account when determining the length of each tube. This is done to optimize sweeping, creating suction at the back of your exhaust valves to produce sufficient low end torque. The downside is that they look like a bunch of snakes while making routine maintenance a nightmare. The image shown shows how Shelby designed a crossover for two cylinders. Known as 180 degree manifolds, they are the ultimate way to produce power on a naturally aspirated engine.
Finally, size is not everything. Going too big will hurt your wallet and ears, so you need to create a little restriction to keep everything happy. My first system on the 2004 CTS-V used 2.5 “(63.5mm) tubing, but I upgraded to 3” (76.2mm) because it made sense to me. Although I gained power above 4,500 rpm, the loss of low-end torque forced me to temporarily revert to the smaller tailpipes. The best way to learn is to buy a cheap welder and do it yourself, so stick with us for all your automotive ideas!