Aftermarket Performance Mufflers: A Buying Guide

Aftermarket Performance Mufflers: A Buying Guide

June 13, 2020

An aftermarket muffler can make a significant difference when it comes to your car's sound and performance. The perforated tubes reflect the sound waves that the engine produces. This minimizes vehicle noise. The other thing the muffler does is remove engine exhaust gases. This helps your vehicle perform better.

Aftermarket and Sports Mufflers

When you hear the term “aftermarket performance muffler,” what is usually meant is a muffler that can reduce backpressure. This puts less pressure on your motor, so it will have a longer service life and require less maintenance.

You also might hear the term “sports muffler” used in the same context. It typically amounts to the same thing. A sports muffler is an aftermarket muffler that is either installed to reduce backpressure or else the vehicle owner might install it because they want to get a better sound from their engine. They might be looking for style enhancement and a sportier ride.

A Little More About Exhaust Systems

There are several exhaust materials of which you should be aware besides the muffler. The typical vehicular exhaust system will include a tailpipe, resonator, exhaust pipes, one or more catalytic converters, oxygen sensors, and an exhaust manifold.

If you look at an exhaust system, you’ll note that the exhaust or downpipe makes use of mandrel bending. Mandrel bends allow the steel out of which the pipes are constructed to compress on the inside of the bend and stretch on the outside of it. This is how the normal pipe diameter is maintained.

The Size of Aftermarket Performance Mufflers

You might be looking for high-end parts like Ferrari exhausts or trying to get an aftermarket muffler for a considerably less valuable vehicle. In either case, though, there is a universality that you should understand.

With exhaust diameter, bigger does not always equal better. Too large of an exhaust diameter can hurt your vehicle’s performance.

If the exhaust component you have installed is too large, the gases being emitted can expand and cool down. During the exhaust evacuation process, turbulence is going to occur when faster-moving gases encounter slower-moving ones.

An appropriately sized exhaust system means those gases don’t have the opportunity to cool. Turbulence is minimized, and you’ll be able to maintain the vehicle’s proper velocity. This makes for better performance overall.

Don’t automatically buy the biggest muffler or other exhaust system components because you think you’ll get the best performance out of your vehicle by installing them. Volume alone is not the determining factor on which you should base your purchase decision.

Inlet-Outlet Configuration

With a sports muffler, the inlet-outlet configuration is going to make a huge difference in determining what kind of sound comes out of your vehicle when you rev the engine. A so-called “center-center” configuration is set up in a straight path. This will be louder than a center-offset muffler that has the same core diameter.

When you’re talking about noise, size and volume will be the greatest indicators of a muffler’s overall loudness. Once you have selected the right body size and shape, you can look at the configuration, which will account for the fine-tuning in terms of what kind of noise the vehicle makes.

Some of the Best-Regarded Aftermarket Mufflers

Several muffler manufacturers are well-known within the industry, and their names will be familiar to gearheads. Magnaflow is a recognized maker of customized aftermarket exhaust systems. Other prominent names include PaceSetter, Corsa, MBRP, Borla, Heartthrob, Flowmaster, and Dynomax.

The Flowmaster 953047 Super 40 is a prime example of a high-quality aftermarket performance muffler that is in high demand. It delivers a pleasing, low-pitched growl that manages not to be overpowering.  It offers efficiency from your engine performance with its two-chamber design. This will be a possible choice for you if you have a high horsepower vehicle with a powerful engine.

The MegaBrand N1 4 is another top contender. The price tag is a little less than some others in its class. It’s sporty-looking and produces an appealing deep growl. This model comes with a removable silencer, so you can adjust the sound output if you so desire. It won’t do a lot in the way of performance. You’ll be getting it mostly for the sound quality.

Then, there is the Dynomax 39510 Super Turbo Muffler Dual System. It has large internal flow tubes. These increase the airflow within your vehicle’s exhaust system and reduce backpressure. It comes with flow director channels and fiberglass matting. These reduce vehicle noise, while also lessening system turbulence.

Aftermarket Performance Muffler Pricing

Like many custom vehicle components, you can expect to see a dramatic price difference with sports mufflers. An inexpensive option might cost as little as $25 or $50, plus the cost of getting it installed if you don’t know how to do it yourself. Parts and labor might cost you $150 to $250.

If you’re getting a replacement muffler for your Porsche or Ferrari, it might not be inconceivable to pay $300 or more, not counting labor. For instance, something like a Magnaflow Street Series in stainless steel will easily run you upwards of $300. Any more than that, and you would probably be talking about a highly-customized exhaust system component.

When looking at aftermarket performance mufflers, it comes down to a few critical details. You’ll have to decide based on whether you want a louder noise from your muffler or a quieter driving experience. Size, volume, and configuration are what matter there.