Basic components of an exhaust system

Basic Components of an Exhaust System

If your exhaust system could be compared to a pair of lungs, then stock components could be likened to a pair of lungs after smoking two packs of non-filtered cigs a day for 20 years. Sure, they’ll sustain your life—just don’t plan on running a marathon, climbing a steep flight of stairs, or even reaching for the remote too quickly.
An exhaust system is composed of tubing that expels spent gases away from the controlled combustion taking place inside your engine. Streamlining the removal of these waste gases provides peak performance by increasing horsepower, gas mileage and overall fuel efficiency. Unfortunately, like most of the stock components on your vehicle, your exhaust system doesn’t come from the factory pre-designed for optimum performance. But with an understanding of the basic components, you can easily and affordably upgrade your exhaust system and maximize your vehicle with the following performance parts.
Mufflers minimize the force and noise created by a running engine and are even required by law in some states. They work by reducing pulsations created by exhaust gases while permitting the spent gases to pass freely through the system. To contain and minimize unwanted exhaust noise, mufflers are lined with wool, fiber mat or fiberglass, providing an insulated sound barrier.
Even with aftermarket exhaust components, there’s still a performance-robbing flow restriction between the turbo and the exhaust. Downpipes remove this bottleneck and provide huge gains in horsepower, torque and throttle response. Similarly, an h-pipe or x-pipe provides a restriction-free path for exhaust gases to escape. Though often selected through personal preference and the unique demands of a particular vehicle, an x-pipe is said to be slightly more effective than an h-pipe due to the precision-bent and welded pipe angles, which are somewhat less abrupt than an h-pipe.
Headers connect to the engine at the exhaust ports and serve to collect exhaust gases from the cylinders. Typically made of cast iron or fabricated tubing, they provide a miniature exhaust pipe for each cylinder, routing the exhaust to a centralized collector. The pipes of an exhaust header are tailored to each make, model and year, so they fit under the hood and allow the exhaust gases to arrive sequentially in the collector as each cylinder fires. This process eliminates back pressure and allows the cylinders to operate more effectively.
Catalytic converters reduce the amount of pollution produced by an internal combustion engine. Hot exhaust gases containing carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen and hydrocarbons travel through the exhaust pipe where they’re filtered through a coating of precious metals on the converter’s substrate. Not unlike a charcoal filtration system for tap water, the substrate weakens polluting chemicals and converts them into exhaust.
Adding muscle doesn’t always have to be 100% functional. With an exhaust tip, you can beef up the appearance of your ride by capping your tailpipe. An exhaust tip is highly versatile and available in a number of styles and finishes, including flush edges, angle cuts and turndown bends, with finishes that include polished and black powdercoat.

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