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Is Upgrading to an Aftermarket Exhaust Worth It?

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Upgrading to a bigger exhaust is a very common modification amongst the car community. It can provide more power, make your car sound much better, and in some cases protect your engine. 

You may still be skeptical about upgrading your exhaust though. So, in this guide we’ll discuss the main benefits you will get if you do decide that upgrading to an aftermarket exhaust is the right plan for your rig.

Benefit of Upgrading to an Aftermarket Exhaust: Lower EGT Temperatures in Diesel Engines

Men upgrading an SUV to Upgrading to an Aftermarket Exhaust

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Imagine going for a run but only being allowed to breathe through a straw – that would be hard, wouldn’t it? Well, that’s how your car runs on a stock exhaust system. 

Upgrading your exhaust will lead to more power and can lower EGT temperatures by at least 100 degrees. 

EGTs won’t be lower just when cruising. While towing up a hill or in tough off-road conditions when the engine is maxed out, the EGTs will again drop by at least 100 degrees. 

A bigger exhaust will also provide the benefit of increased tunability. When tuning an engine you will have more flexibility to add more fuel because you are starting with EGT temperatures below the safe maximum. 

Do Exhausts Increase Power?

Aftermarket exhaust

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Depending on the vehicle, upgrading to an aftermarket exhaust will lead to a 5%-8% increase in power. Factory systems need to pass laws and must be easy to fit and quiet; therefore, they lead to many restrictions in airflow. 

Power comes in a lot earlier too because the turbo can spool faster.

Keep in mind that performance gains on non-turbo vehicles are not that noticeable. 

Is It Worth It Going for a DPF Back Exhaust?

SUV travelling in the desert

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A DPF back exhaust will provide some power gains but not as big as a straight-through system. If you want to keep your car clean while gaining some power and a nice exhaust note, then the DPF back exhaust is the best choice when upgrading to an aftermarket exhaust.

Learn More:

What is Straight Piping, and Should You Do It?

Straight Exhaust system

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Straight piping means that you run the exhaust pipe from the engine with no restrictions. This will provide the most power and noise. Turbo diesel engines won’t get too loud because the turbo quiets down the noise. Naturally aspirated vehicles get very loud; so, it is recommended to install a small muffler. 

You should also check the regulations of the place you live because you might not be allowed to straight pipe your 4WD. 

Upgrading to an Aftermarket Exhaust: 2.5 vs 3 vs 4 Inch Pipes – Which is Better? 

Racks of pipes

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On most turbo vehicles a 3-inch exhaust system is all you need. In most cases, a bigger 4-inch pipe won’t provide added gains over the 3-inch because the turbo opening is smaller than 4 inches. 

Going with too big of an exhaust on a naturally aspirated vehicle can actually decrease power; so, the rule of thumb here is 2.5 inches.

Aluminum vs Stainless Steel 

Rusty exhaust system

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Aluminum exhaust systems will be much cheaper but will not last as long. Stainless steel will last for many years but is much more expensive.

They both last a long time though. I would go with stainless steel if a lot of beach driving is on your to-do list. 

Upgrading to an Aftermarket Exhaust: How to Get the Best Noise Out of Your 4WD 

New aftermarket exhaust system

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The loudest isn’t always the nicest. The best way to get a good noise out of your 4WD is to add a small muffler to take the edge off the exhaust note. This will give it a great sound while also keeping your eardrums in one piece. 

The Best Way to Tell the Difference Between a Bad and a Good Exhaust System

Exhaust system

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The cheap option will have fewer mounting brackets, fitment won’t be as good, and the pipe will be thinner. I believe that when going cheap you actually spend the money you saved on getting the cheap stuff to fit and work. Therefore, go for the more reputable option.

The above points make clear that upgrading your exhaust system will provide many benefits. However, depending on the type of driving you do, you may not need to upgrade your exhaust. If your 4WD gets mild use, then the factory system will do the job fine. For a 4WD that sees a lot of hard driving in which performance is key, an exhaust upgrade will be a good addition.

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