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Exhaust modifications are some of the most popular primary modifications to virtually any vehicle due to the overall rewards you get with both sound and power. They are especially beneficial to turbocharged applications as they free up the flow path exiting the turbocharger, Here is a list of the top 5 modifications that could help you get more power and performance out of your vehicle.
If you're new to cars and want to modify the exhaust, start here. This is by far the easiest and most cost-efficient means of getting a whole new look and a bit more sound out of your car. Axle-back exhausts are direct replacement mufflers or muffler deletes designed to save weight, improve the exhaust flow while producing a more aggressive exhaust note. Installation can be performed using basic hand tools and usually within an hour, you can transform your vehicle into something that is truly your own.
Downpipes start at the turbocharger and are the primary exhaling source of the exhaust system. Your turbocharger breathes in through the intake and breathes out of the downpipe. A downpipe with a great design will combine smooth bends and a larger piping diameter to remove any turbulence found in the factory design. This is why downpipes generate a good amount of horsepower and torque. Because it allows the turbocharger to react quicker, for a better throttle response with a reduction in turbo lag.
This will be a natural extension of the downpipe and will keep the exhaust moving freely all the way to the back of the car. Like the downpipe, a quality cat-back design will have larger exhaust piping with minimum bends to really expose the power potential of the downpipe. Even if you choose not to upgrade your downpipe yet, you will still notice a difference in both power and performance, but more notably, the sound. Additionally, cat-back exhausts provide the exterior with a more pronounced look that can be appreciated by fellow enthusiasts as there are so many options with different exhaust tip designs to suit your style.
This is where the exhaust system begins, and one of the most labor-intensive modifications in the entire exhaust lineup. However, one of the most rewarding and a must-have especially if you want to reach a horsepower level that surpasses the capacity of your factory manifold. A quality header/manifold will have a nice tubular design in an equal-length or unequal-length with smooth bends that lead to the turbocharger. The unequal length will really expose the flagship Subaru boxer rumble, whereas the equal-length completely eliminates the Subaru boxer and makes the car sound like a conventional modified 4-cylinder. Another large benefit is the weight savings. The factory exhaust manifold is a straight boat anchor. Understandably, this exhaust component endures more heat than most of the exhaust components so the factory designed the manifold to be as robust as possible. But with a quality header/manifold, you get the weight savings, the sound, the increased power, and torque, all within a uniform unit that replaces the factory multi-piece design.
This is a broad yet overlooked exhaust modification. Remember, exhaust systems generate substantial heat in the engine bay which can cause heat soak to your intercooler, and it exposes surrounding engine components to dangerous radiant heat. Luckily, there is a large catalog of heat protection components ranging from heat shields, turbo blankets, exhaust wraps, and just about everything in between to offer the best defense against the heat. Another great benefit is that heat protection can actually improve the overall performance of your vehicle. Heat is energy, and the turbochargers need the heat (energy) for spooling and keep them on-line, therefore the more heat that you allow to escape from the manifold, up pipe, and turbo, the more performance you're sacrificing. A proper turbo blanket and exhaust wrap will keep the heat and energy directly in the manifold and in the turbocharger while reducing the overall heat in the engine bay.
Another great exhaust modification you can consider is the up-pipe. Now, many aftermarket exhaust manifold/header designs will come with their own up-pipe. However, if you choose not to upgrade to a new manifold/header then the up-pipe is a great way to breathe new life into your turbocharger. Over time and mileage, the factory up-pipe can choke or bottle-neck your turbocharger's ability to be 100% efficient and functional. What happens is that debris can fall apart on the inside which can clog the flow path to the turbocharger, and your vehicle will feel weak or may not produce as much boost. In this case, the up-pipe may be the culprit if you've ruled out that there are no boost leaks, all of the rest of the turbocharger components are copesetic, and of course, your engine is sound. Although higher on the difficulty scale in terms of installation, a good up-pipe should never be overlooked when improving your performance.
Because of these reasons, it is concluded why exhaust modifications are the most popular due to the overall simplicity of the installation, as well as the overall result. You can feel the power, you can hear that race-inspired sound, and it really makes your overall driving experience much more enjoyable. Additionally, exhaust modifications benefit other upgrades you may have in the future such as a larger turbocharger or intake as exhaust components will make other upgrades as efficient as possible, all without having to tear apart your engine.