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The Different Types of Aftermarket Exhausts

Akrapovic exhaust system

Explore Aftermarket Exhaust Systems

If you’ve just begun your search for an Akrapovic exhaust system or something similar, you’re in luck because today we’re taking a look at the different varieties of aftermarket exhaust systems.

First off, why upgrade from your stock exhaust to an aftermarket version? Well, you can look forward to seeing:

  • An increase in horsepower, torque and performance
  • A much more distinctive exhaust note

With the prospect of a faster and more aggressive sounding ride, let’s dig into the different types of aftermarket exhaust systems and how they differ from what your car offers as standard.

Wider diameter and different pipe bends

As stock systems are designed to offer a balance of free-flowing power and efficiency, they don’t take full advantage of the capabilities of your car’s engine. This can be seen in the diameter size of standard pipes, which are smaller than aftermarket types. While diameter size of aftermarket systems vary depending on a number of variables, they’re consistently larger. Aftermarket exhausts also make use of a technique called mandrel bending (as opposed to the less complex crush bending technique of standard systems). Mandrel bending reduces restrictions at the pipe bends by making use of a flexible rod instead.

Header-back, cat-back and axle-back exhaust types

If you’re serious about maximum gains, you’ll want to choose a header-back exhaust system. This would entail a replacement of your entire exhaust system, as header-back systems replace all standard components. Of course, this makes them trickier to install and more expensive, but they’ll sure get the job done! Cat-back exhaust systems are simpler in that they only replace components backwards from where the catalytic converter is situated. These systems are sought-after as they offer tangible performance gains but are relatively straightforward to install.

Finally, we have the axle-back system, and this replaces the components from the rear axle to the tip of the exhaust. These systems are the simplest to install and the most cost-effective of the three aftermarket options, and although power gains will be less than you’d see with the header-back and cat-back, you’ll still get that sporty exhaust note to enjoy.

Exhaust configuration

When it comes to exhaust configurations, you’ve got the option of single or dual exit systems. Most common is the single exhaust with just one set of exhaust components exiting behind the axle of your car. The single setup is by far the most popular option, and should cater to all your performance needs, whereas the more complex dual system tends to find favor with more serious racers who love the look of the dual exit pipes. True, complete dual exhaust systems (featuring two headers that run all the way to the tips), are most suited to hot rodders. Some parts suppliers offer variations of these systems, so it’s best to speak to someone in the know.

The right aftermarket exhaust system can revitalize the driving experience of your German sports car, transforming even something like a humble e90 BMW 320i into a much meaner machine. As you can see, it’s worth taking time to explore your options to determine which system best meets your overall needs.

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