When you want to install a new exhaust system, chances are either the existing exhaust system is damaged from rust and not working efficiently, or you want to upgrade for your car’s sound and performance. Regardless of your reasons for acquiring a new exhaust system, the cost of installation is an important thing to consider before purchasing.
The cost of replacing the complete exhaust system depends on the type of car, model, and kind of exhaust system you need to get. Getting an entire exhaust system will cost you between $150 to $2,000 for parts and about $75 to $200 for labor. A vehicle’s exhaust system has about four to five components; you can replace all those parts individually. Some parts cost more to buy and install.
This article will give you a rough estimate of costs and factors that determine different prices, which will help you when budgeting for a new exhaust system.
What’s the average cost across car types?
It is difficult to determine the actual cost as many factors influence pricing. If you want to replace your car’s exhaust system, of course, the vehicle you drive will have an impact on the cost of the parts and installation charges. The exhaust system of cars can consist of very standard components, to mid-range and high-performance parts.
Make a note that the cost also varies between the year, make, and model of your vehicle. We have compiled a list of the average cost of a full exhaust system replacement inclusive of labor of some common cars in the market.
|Car make and model||Estimated cost|
|Fiat Stilo estate 1.6||$300-$900|
|Ford F150 truck||$380-$1200|
What determines the price differences of a new exhaust system?
Several factors determine the cost of replacing an exhaust system. We have broken down some of these factors that will affect the overall cost of installation;
The year, make, and model of your vehicle influence the cost of the exhaust system. Some cars have parts that are pricier than others. Luxury cars have costly parts. Older car models have cheaper options of exhaust systems, and installation costs are also lower.
Type of exhaust system
When getting a new exhaust system, you have two options to choose from; an aftermarket product or an OEM product. Aftermarket products are generic copies of the original product and typically cheaper than OEM exhaust systems. Custom systems that are specific to your car needs cost the most. Whichever option you choose, make sure it is of high-quality materials. The average estimate of some aftermarket exhaust systems include;
- Cat-back exhaust systems will cost between $300 to $1200.
- Axle-back systems will cost the same as the cat-back systems.
- High-performance systems cost around $100 to $300.
- Exhaust tips will cost between $25 to $150 if you want to accessorize the exhaust that comes with the whole system.
The cost of these components will vary with steel thickness, quality, and type.
The material of the exhaust system
The exhaust system’s material will affect its durability, and the more durable it is, the pricier it should be. Mild steel is the cheapest but will rust much quicker. The higher-priced exhaust systems are stainless steel or aluminized steel. Stainless steel can resist corrosion, while aluminized steel mufflers may have better sound quality than stainless steel.
Dealership installations tend to cost the most, while independent mechanics are usually expensive and may vary depending on the area. If you have the skills and tools, you can save some money and do the installation yourself.
Can I install an exhaust system myself?
With the right tools, parts, patience, and the necessary skills, you can install a new exhaust system yourself. It is relatively straight forward as long as you use the right replacement parts for your vehicle.
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Follow the steps below to install your new exhaust system successfully, but first, you must familiarize yourself with the essential components and their functions. The construction of the exhaust system may vary with design styles, but in general, the exhaust system comprises of five parts:
- Exhaust manifold: Removes the post-combustion gases from the engine to the exhaust pipe.
- Flange gasket: Provides a seal between the manifold and the exhaust pipe.
- Catalytic converter: It reduces harmful emission by using reduction and oxidation
- Middle or cross piping: Houses the resonator
- Resonator: prepares the loud noise coming from the engine to the muffler.
- Muffler: quietens the noise from the engine.
Tools You’ll Need
- Six-point sockets – 10mm through 19mm
- Gaskets – the required number for your vehicle
- Bolts and nuts
- Penetrating oil
- Rubber exhaust hangers
- Four safety Jack stands.
- Safety Glasses
- Leather gloves
- Get the right exhaust system replacement kit. Always confirm with your dealership on the recommended exhaust system for your car make and model. We recommend buying a bolt-on exhaust for your vehicle rather than collecting separate parts. Most replacement kits will come with the right fasteners or hardware such as bolts, nuts, gaskets, and hangers.
- Park your vehicle on a flat hard surface, switch it off, remove the keys from the ignition and disconnect the battery.
- Raise the vehicle by placing four safety jack stands under your vehicle strategically. Make sure they are all well balanced.
- Prime the fasteners from your replacement kit by spraying them with penetrating oil. This oil prevents them from wearing out and ensures their durability. Allow them to soak in the oil for about 5 minutes.
- Use your creeper to go under the vehicle. It will help you move more comfortably.
- Start with removing the muffler, usually located at the rear end of the vehicle. Use the six-point socket and a ratchet to loosen the muffler. Pull the muffler from the rubber hangers and remove it from the car altogether. If the muffler sticks to the rubber hanger, spray some WD40 to loosen the grip, and it will pull out much easier.
- If your car has two mufflers, repeat the same process on the second one using a pointed socket.
- Remove the catalytic converter, which is usually at the middle part after the muffler. Unbolt the converter, pull it from the rubber hanger and place it aside.
- Remove the old rubber hangers and replace them with the new hangers.
- Fit the new middle piping on to the rubber hangers.
- Put in the new gasket between the catalytic converter and the exhaust piping. Secure the flange with some bolts and tighten them by hand.
- Install the flange that connects the middle piping to the muffler. Place the new gasket and tighten the flange by hand.
- Go back and tighten all the bolts at each flange and ensure the exhaust pipe hangs freely on the rubber hangers. The pipe should not be in contact with the car’s frame. Adjust the exhaust piping to find the right placement, then tighten the bolts completely.
- While the vehicle is still on the jack, reconnect the battery, start the car and listen to the new exhaust. If there is a gap, you will be able to hear it and fix it where necessary. Do not touch the exhaust pipe while testing since the exhaust gas gets hotter when the car is still on.
- Turn off the car, take it down to the ground and do a test drive.
How long does it take to install a new exhaust system?
It takes about 5-8 hours to install a new exhaust system depending on the type of exhaust system your vehicle requires. A single exit pipe takes about 3 hours to replace, while exhaust systems in heavy-duty and luxury cars may take up to 8-10 hours.
Is a new exhaust system worth it?
A new exhaust system’s benefits outweigh the cons if you have to minimize the risks of running on a defective exhaust system. Whether you’re after style, appearance, and sounds, or simply an upgraded performance, you can get a new exhaust system that works for your needs. To know if a new exhaust for your car is worth it, you should weigh the pros and cons of installing one.
Pros of a New Exhaust System
- Engine Performance and Power: When you install a new exhaust system in your car, your car’s engine will start to perform better. Depending on the style of exhaust you choose, it can release the exhaust gases from your engine more efficiently, allowing your engine to burn more fuel and give more power. The car’s torque and horsepower will improve, resulting in better engine performance and durability.
- Fuel Economy: The exhaust system has a direct effect on the engine’s fuel consumption. Some exhausts can give your fuel better mileage as they are fuel-efficient. However, some exhaust systems have a high fuel consumption as a trade-off for performance, style, and sounds upgrades.
- Sound: This is very dependant on the owner’s personal preference. Whether you want a louder or more quiet car, you can get an exhaust that can give you precisely what you want. As long as the exhaust system is compatible with your vehicle’s size, it will not damage your car other than the sound change.
- Life expectancy: Running your car on a faulty exhaust will put a strain on your engine, and in turn, other parts will consequentially start failing. Getting a new exhaust will increase the overall longevity of your vehicle.
- Improved look: For car enthusiasts, a modern exhaust system with exposed manifolds is the way to go. Some car owners will invest in a new exhaust system to give the car its most desired look.
Cons of a New Exhaust System
- Time: A new exhaust system is not a simple installation and can be time-consuming depending on what type of exhaust system you’re getting installed.
- Cost: An exhaust system significantly affects an engine’s performance, and because of that, it is one of the most costly repairs for a car. Over time, you will end up spending more money on repairing other damages in your vehicle that a new exhaust system could have easily avoided. Most car owners with new exhaust systems always say the benefits of a new exhaust system is worth the price.
Can a new exhaust damage an engine?
Typically, with the right type and size of exhaust and proper installation, a new exhaust should not damage the engine. On the contrary, a quality exhaust system will help your engine achieve its maximum power. There are mistakes you can make when changing to a new exhaust that can potentially damage your engine. Here some of the mistakes to avoid when getting a new exhaust for your car;
- Underestimating the installation process: From choosing the right exhaust system for installation, it requires an adequate amount of knowledge on exhaust systems. You should not take up the work if you have no skills in the area. Even when hiring a mechanic, you have to make sure the mechanic understands exhaust systems. If possible, get your exhaust system installment done by your car dealership; they have more expertise in dealing with your type of vehicle than a general auto shop.
- Lack of patience: It takes time and patience to get your exhaust installed correctly. Whether you’re doing it yourself or working with a professional, you should not rush the process. A poorly installed system will have leakages that can affect the car’s performance, defeating the new installation’s purpose.
- Going cheap: Cheap is ultimately expensive when it comes to exhaust systems. When choosing a new one, try to go for the quality ones which tend to cost more but will be worth it over time. For instance, buying exhaust systems made of mild steel will develop rust much quicker than the pricier stainless steel or aluminized steel exhaust.
- Size: Go for an exhaust size that is proportionate to the car size. If the system is too big, it can reduce the performance of the car.
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Whether you want to replace a faulty exhaust system or want to upgrade your car’s performance, consult with several professionals on the cost and the most suitable type of exhaust system for your vehicle. If you can’t settle on a mechanic, you can always go back to the dealership for a more professional installation with guaranteed success.