Does Your Truck Need an Exhaust System?

Does Your Truck Need an Exhaust System?

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by Jason Lancaster

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.

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The catalytic converters are the next stop for exhaust gases as they travel through your truck. It’s not exactly a good idea to take these off – your factory catalytic is already very efficient and a legal requirement on your vehicle, so you’ll want them to stay on your truck. The only time replacing the standard catalytic on your truck might be a consideration is if you were adding a very powerful upgrade, such as a turbocharger or supercharger, to your engine.

After the catalytic converters, the exhaust gases cool somewhat and enter the muffler. Again, the factory exhaust system is pretty good and the standard mufflers aren’t very restrictive. Replacing them usually won’t result in a significant hp or torque gain…3-5 hp and 5-10 ft-lbs of torque on average. However, after market mufflers will make your truck sound much better. The rumble you’ll hear with after market mufflers is exciting, and well worth the cost. After leaving the mufflers, the exhaust will exit out of the tailpipe. Tailpipe tips are a popular add-on, but they’re decorative only, and have no impact on your exhaust system’s performance.

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:

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First, ask yourself if you really want to be hearing the exhaust ALL the time. If you do, make sure to take that into account when selecting your muffler. If you’d prefer not to hear the muffler in the background as you’re driving down the highway, choose a muffler that’s not described as loud. You can look online or at your local muffler shop for more help on finding the perfect muffler. There are even sound clips on many muffler manufacturers’ websites now so you can hear what your muffler will sound like before you buy.

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.

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Your final decision is which exhaust material system you’ll use. The right material for you will depend on where you’re located geographically. If it’s anywhere near a saltwater body, buy stainless steel. It may cost more, but stainless steel will be a wise investment since the saltwater in your environment is harsh on regular galvanized or aluminized steel. Drivers in dry climates won’t really benefit from the extra cost of stainless steel, since it’ll take years for rust damage to occur if it gets into the system.

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