Types of Exhaust Systems

When choosing the right exhaust for your vehicle, there is a lot more to understand and learn about than just gaining an iconic sound. When getting the sound you crave, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice performance, nor put your vehicle at risk by picking improper components for your vehicle.  There are multiple systems available, and finishes. This ultimately leaves you with endless options. To help you best pick, we’ve broken down each type of exhaust system.

Types of Exhaust Systems

Cat-back Exhaust Systems

Perrin Cat Back Exhaust System

Cat-back exhaust systems will run from the outlet of your catalytic converter straight to the exhaust tips. The pipes included in your cat-back exhaust system can vary between manufacturers, but many would include a pipe from the catalytic coveter to the muffler, the muffler itself, and any pipes from the muffler to the exhaust tips, and the exhaust tips. With pipes starting after your catalytic converter, your vehicle will stay emissions compliant. There are systems that may contain a muffler delete, but depending on your states laws, you could run into some issues during emissions. Now that we understand what generally comes with a cat-back exhaust lets break down the benefits of them.

We all know the first benefit of a cat-back exhaust, sound. How that sound is unlocked is the true benefit of your upgrade. Cat-back exhaust systems generally have larger diameter piping. Good systems will also have mandrel-bent turns. Both larger diameter piping and mandrel-bent turns will help reduced the level of back pressure at the engine manifold, allowing your engine to breathe easier. This in turn creates more horsepower and torque, yay!

Axle-Back Exhaust Systems

AFE Axel back Exhaust System

Just as the name implies, an axle-back exhaust system is a system that includes everything after the rear axle. Most axle-back systems include just the muffler and any exhaust pipes or tips. This system is ideal for vehicles that already have good flow from their factory intermediate piping / mid pipes. Also with fewer components than a cat-back system, axle-backs tend to run on the cheaper side. You will still gain a more iconic sound from your vehicle as well, however you may not create as much power due to less components being swapped out.  The power produced from this upgrade will vary depending on your vehicle.

Turbo Back Exhaust Systems

MagnaFlow Turbo Back Exhaust System

A turbo back exhaust system is a much more comprehensive system then the two stated above.  A turbo back system will completely replace your catalytic converter.  If your state requires emissions this may cause you some issues on inspection day. This option is also only available if your vehicle has a turbo.  The larger diameter piping from your downpipe straight through the exhaust tips, and mandrel-bent turns will allow for greater exhaust flow.  With the entire system being completely replaced, the turbo back has the most opportunity for power gains. Another thing to keep in mind when upgrading to a turbo back exhaust system is it is highly recommended to receive a tune once installed.  Due to removing factory components and increased airflow you should protect your investment and have a retune. A vehicle that is running too rich or too lean can be detrimental to your motor.


Now that we covered the basics of types of exhaust systems lets discuss some finishes available for all three units.  Many exhaust systems can be found in either stainless steel or aluminum. Each have their own benefits.

Aluminum Exhaust Systems

Aluminum exhaust are created by hot dipping steel in aluminum silicone alloy. During this process the aluminum silicone will deposit into the steel, eventually creating 3 layers. The innermost layer is the steel core, aluminum in the middle and outside being oxidized aluminum. Aluminum exhaust systems are lighter, and tend to be more cost-effective.  These types of exhaust are great for dry climate areas. They are also able to withstand certain level of resistance to corrosion and oxidizing.

Stainless Steel Exhaust Systems

These systems are covered with nickel, and chromium to create a corrosion resistant alloy. The two common types of steel for stainless steel exhaust systems are 304, and 409.  The difference between the two is the amount of chromium and nickel they contain.  409 Stainless steel has anywhere from 10.5% – 11.75% of chromium and .5% of nickel. 309 Stainless steel has anywhere from 18% – 20% chromium and 8% – 10% Nickel.  With 309 having a higher content, it is a higher-grade stainless steel.

A stainless steel exhaust is a sturdier exhaust, which can handle more wear and tare. The trade-off is the weight with stainless steel weighing in heavier than aluminum. If you live in a more humid environment or an area that experiences snow this is also the more ideal exhaust system for you, with better corrosion resistance. Although the cost is typically higher on a stainless steel exhaust, the life expectancy tends to be longer than aluminum.

Final Words

Even with all the right information, picking the exact exhaust that is good for your vehicle can still be a difficult process. Luckily for you we have compiled a list of the top 5 exhaust. Click here to check out that article!