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Car Exhaust Basics, Working, Care, Upgrades and More..

Do you know that a Car Exhaust System modification is often the first mod that car enthusiasts make? You may ask why! Because it is one of the cheapest and easiest upgrades to perform. Moreover, these systems give you an instant boost in performance, which makes them even more appealing to petrol heads.

But before you start making upgrades to your car exhaust system, you must know its basics. Which is precisely what today's blog is all about. I will explain the different parts of a car exhaust system, their functioning, the purpose of this system, why you should upgrade it, and some necessary care tips. So, let's get right to it!

What are parts and working of a car exhaust system?

Exhaust system - car exhaust

First, I will enlighten you about the various components of a car exhaust system and their specific functions. Through this, you will get an idea of each part's purpose and a general overview of how the whole system works.

Exhaust manifold:

You might know this as the header. This component collects the gasses that enter the car exhaust system and transfers them into one big tube. Unless you have a V engine, the gases go into two tubes or multiple tubes in a W mill.

Exhaust system - car exhaust

Catalytic converters:

Car exhaust system - catalytic converter

The gas from the manifolds then travels to the catalytic converter. We commonly call it the ‘cat,' and it consists of a high-surface-area core filled with a catalyst. Here these gasses break down into less toxic waste. For example, Carbon Monoxide converts to water vapour and less harmful gasses like Carbon Dioxide. Depending on their functioning and purpose, these catalytic converters (or cats, as we call them) may restrict the performance of your vehicle.


Midpipes are the main mode of transfer for the gasses. They usually have a resonator (or more than one) attached to them. The purpose of the resonator is to reduce the sound waves that the car exhaust system makes. A resonator can be, much like the catalytic converter, very restrictive.


The mufflers do precisely what you would assume they do - they muffle the sound that your Car Exhaust System generates. Mufflers often get confused for resonators but are, in fact, an entirely different component. They work by redirecting airflow and leading the exhaust gasses into sound deadening material, thereby reducing the sound even further.

Tail Pipe:

Car exhaust system - different exhaust pipes​

The tailpipe connects to the muffler and is the last oar of the car exhaust system. Typically, automakers create it in stainless steel, and this is the point at which the gasses finally expel from your vehicle. 

What is the purpose of a car exhaust system?

The exhaust system on your vehicle serves five essential purposes. The most crucial of these is obviously to provide a path for the gasses. From combustion to travel to the rear end of the car! Other than this function, your car exhaust system will also:

Minimise noise generated from the working of your vehicle.

Prevent exhaust fumes from entering your passenger cabin.

Improve the fuel efficiency of your automobile.

Enhance the overall performance of the engine.

How to care about it?

  1. Car exhaust systems are prone to wearing out or getting damaged after an extended period of use. Although they're not a costly repair, you can still save maintenance costs by following a few essential care steps. 
  2. If your car is displaying a "check engine" sign, do not ignore it. Find out where the issue is and resolve it before using the vehicle.
  3. Do not keep shutting your engine off and plan your errands in a way that makes the car's engine warm. When vehicles keep cooling off, water vapours and other gasses condense in the Car Exhaust System. It can lead to issues like corrosion.
  4. Be careful when driving off-road; avoid obstructions such as debris and potholes. If you have to cross over them, do so in a way that minimises the impact on your vehicle’s exhaust system.
  5. Pay attention to leaks in the system. Your car exhaust system is continually dealing with high-pressure gasses, heat, and vibrations. All these make it susceptible to rupture or cracks. Check for the leakages regularly and keep all the exhaust parts in excellent shape to prevent breakage or malfunction.
  6. Catalytic converter theft is a rising issue, and if you park your car outside, you are vulnerable. Avoid parking your car in open spaces, and if you have to, weld or bolt the converter to make it difficult for thieves to remove it.

Why upgrade your car exhaust system?

While improved aesthetics is a popular reason for upgrading a car exhaust system, it isn’t the only perk you can get. Not only does a stylish exhaust look good, but it can also boost your vehicle’s performance as well as deliver an excellent acceleration sound.

How does a new exhaust system improve your car’s performance? You might remember from our other blogs that your car runs when it mixes fuel with air. The more air it takes in, the more fuel it burns. Since your exhaust controls how much air expels out of the vehicle, it also determines how much air your car will intake.

Therefore, to improve the performance of your vehicle, you need to find a way to speed up the rate at which your car expels exhaust gasses. You could achieve this by either increasing the diameter of your current exhaust or by upgrading to a performance exhaust system.

A performance exhaust system allows more flow than a standard car exhaust system. It is capable of drawing in more air to burn extra fuel. It also expels these gasses at a higher rate than pre-installed car exhausts do.

Final words:

Your car exhaust system is a very crucial component and one of the easiest ones to upgrade. At a glance, an exhaust system might seem rather complicated. However, once you understand the major components and their functionality, you will comprehend the working of the system. Find local garages to upgrade your exhaust system.

The car exhaust serves several purposes, such as fine-tuning the noise your car makes and keeping waste fumes away from your when you drive. It can also slightly improve the overall performance of your vehicle. You will, of course, need to make certain upgrades before you can unlock the full potential of your automobile.