Your exhaust system contains some of the most vital components when it comes to achieving maximum performance. Composed of tubing that expels exhaust gases away from the engine, the exhaust system and its various components -mufflers, headers and catalytic converters – streamline the performance of your vehicle by increasing horsepower, gas mileage and overall efficiency.

In stark contrast to the lackluster output provided by stock components, a performance exhaust system features parts that are specifically designed to achieve varying levels of added performance, enabling you to purr like a kitten or roar like a lion if you so choose. Performance parts, like Edelbrock headers and parts produced by Magnaflow, are engineered to maximize your engine’s exhaust flow by providing a smoother conduit for spent gases to escape, allowing the engine to breathe easier. In fact, just by upgrading the various components of your exhaust system, you’ll notice an immediate increase in horsepower and torque, enjoy a boost in power of up to 10 percent, and see your fuel efficiency jump by up to 2 mpg-assuming you don’t develop a lead foot after installing your exhaust.

A performance-grade muffler is by far the most popular upgrade when it comes to your exhaust system. The muffler is responsible for reducing pulsations created by exhaust gases while permitting the spent gases to pass freely through the system. To contain and minimize unwanted exhaust noise, mufflers are lined with wool, fiber mat or fiberglass, providing an insulated sound barrier. Unlike stock parts, a performance-enhancing muffler achieves its goal while avoiding excessive backpressure that would otherwise reduce power and performance by acting as an inadvertent brake against the engine.

Another upgrade for those looking to improve the output of their vehicle is the addition of an improved set of headers. A header connects to the engine at the exhaust ports, collecting exhaust gases from the cylinders and channeling spent gases into a common outlet. Headers are typically constructed of cast iron or fabricated tubing and manufactured by aftermarket automotive companies. Most performance-enhancing enthusiasts buy aftermarket headers made by companies who specialize in producing reliable, cost-effective headers created specifically for their make, model and year, like those found in Edelbrock headers.

The final major component to consider when upgrading your exhaust system is the catalytic converter. Catalytic converters reduce the amount of pollution produced by an internal combustion engine by filtering them through a coating of precious metals found on the converter’s substrate. Required by law in most states, catalytic converters contain a network of small ceramic passageways that act to weaken the polluting chemicals and convert them into a more environmentally-friendly byproduct of combustion. Stock cats tend to choke the exhaust flow, but performance aftermarket converters sport smarter internal designs that strip away pollutants without robbing your gas pedal of power.