Exhaust systems are vital in ensuring your car runs safely and efficiently. Having a new exhaust will boost your car’s fuel economy, reduce excess noise, and prevent poisonous gases from entering the car. This can lead many to wonder how much it would cost to replace their exhaust system.
It costs around $400 to replace the exhaust system of a smaller car. Replacing the exhaust on a larger family car can cost around $600, while it can cost over $1,000 to replace the exhaust on a luxury car. Prices vary depending on labor costs and if you want to replace the exhaust yourself or not.
There are different types of exhaust system which you will need to research before committing to, as they can potentially fall foul of local emissions laws. In this article we’ll break down the costs of exhaust replacements and highlight the positives and negatives of aftermarket exhausts.
How Much Does It Cost To Get A Full Exhaust System Installed?
The amount of money it costs to get a full exhaust system installed will vary depending on where you go, the quality of exhaust you want and the size of the car you drive. If you drive a smaller car, the minimum you can expect to pay is around $400. The minimum for a larger vehicle will set you back around $600, while luxury vehicle owners may pay over $1,000 for an exhaust system to be installed.
These costs include the labor as well as the cost of the exhaust system as a whole. While it may seem like an expensive job, having a well-functioning exhaust can save you thousands of dollars in the long term, as it will improve your fuel economy and lower your car’s overall emissions. There is also the option of getting individual parts replaced rather than the whole exhaust system.
What Does A Full Exhaust System Include?
Exhaust systems typically include:
- Exhaust manifold
- Oxygen sensors
- Catalytic converter
- Various exhaust pipes
The exhaust is vital as it directs harmful fumes away from the car, it reduces the number of emissions the car creates, it helps to keep temperatures to a stable level and reduces the overall noise of the car.
The exhaust manifold is a multi-cylindered component that is responsible for collecting fumes from the engine. It will then send these fumes down the exhaust system towards the catalytic converter.
The catalytic converter is responsible for converting 90% of the harmful gases – like carbon monoxide or nitric oxide – that come from the engine, into less harmful substances like water vapor or carbon dioxide. The converter does this via the means of chemical reactions working at high temperatures. Catalytic converters are not common in vintage cars.
Resonator And Muffler
The resonator and muffler work in tandem to reduce the amount of noise your car will make. The noise of the engine will flow through into the resonator where its frequencies will be changed, dulling the high squeaks and low drones, before passing them through to the muffler.
The muffler will then quieten this noise by hitting the sound waves against each other, balancing everything out. Essentially, by bouncing the sound waves around in a specific way, the muffler can force some of them to collide in just the right way that their sound cancels out, leading to an overall quieter sound.
Pipes And Smaller Parts
As well as the main components, exhaust systems will contain other peripheries such as gaskets, piping and oxygen sensors. These are all designed to make sure the fumes and noise flow through the system efficiently and safely. Oxygen sensors are especially important as they let your car’s electronics know how much of a certain gas is being emitted, allowing the ECU to control the output.
Exhaust gaskets are also important as they help to reduce noise and control the consistency of the system pressure.
Exhaust Replacement Cost Breakdown
|Exhaust Manifold||$75 – $500|
|Gaskets||$10 – $30|
|Catalytic Converter||$150 – $400|
|Flex Piping||$20 – $80|
|Resonator||$30 – $60|
|Muffler||$30 – $50|
|Oxygen Sensor||$100 – $450|
|Total Cost||$415 – $1570|
The cost of replacing individual parts of an exhaust system vary greatly depending on the size of your car and the model. Larger cars will cost more to operate on as the pipes will need to be longer and the components larger in order to cope with the emissions coming from the engine. More complex parts such as catalytic converters and oxygen sensors will also cost more.
The exhaust manifold is one of the more expensive components as it requires the use of metals that can cope with extreme temperatures of up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit (650 degrees Celsius). The importance of the manifold cannot be understated, as without it, there would be no functioning exhaust system.
Smaller parts like gaskets are cheaper as they require fewer materials to make and lack the intricacy of the other components. While the work of the resonator and muffler is important, the two components aren’t that complex to craft, and only require a few parts to manufacture. Therefore, their prices are lower than that of an oxygen sensor.
If you take the costs of the individual parts at face value, replacing an exhaust system can seem expensive. However, having a fully functioning exhaust is very important, and can save you money in the long-term by boosting your fuel efficiency and helping your car to run smoothly over long distances.
KEY POINTS• Car exhaust systems are made up of various different components
• Some of these components are far more expensive than others
• They all work together to ensure your vehicle operates smoothly and (relatively) quietly
Exhaust Replacement Cost By Model/Type Of Car
|Car Type||Exhaust Replacement Cost|
|Small Car / Hatchback||$300 – $400|
|SUV / Sedan / Truck||$400 – $750|
Exhaust replacement costs will vary depending on the model of your car. Those for smaller models, such as hatchbacks, can cost as little as $350 to $400, while replacing the exhaust on medium sized models can cost around the $500 mark. It will cost you a little more to replace the exhaust on a seven-seater family car, as the parts required will be larger.
Luxury cars are the most expensive to operate on, and it can potentially cost over $1,000 if you want to replace the entire exhaust system. Costs do vary greatly depending on who you choose to do the replacement, and whether you want to replace the entire system or only individual parts. The brand and model will also play into the costs as well.
Types Of Exhaust Replacement
Not all exhaust replacements are the same. There are three main types of aftermarket exhaust replacements: axle-back, cat-back and header-back. These are all configured differently and offer different enhancements to your car.
The axle-back exhaust replaces all the components from your stock exhaust from the rear axle to the muffler. This includes the tailpipe, the tailpipe extension, and the tip. The axle-back will provide some improvements to airflow within the exhaust, as well as changing the sound that it makes. Another type of aftermarket exhaust is known as the cat-back.
Cat-back exhausts focus on the catalytic converter, ensuring for better airflow. Header-back exhausts will replace the whole stock exhaust, fitting in thicker pipes to provide even more flow through the exhaust. This is the most expensive form of aftermarket exhausts.
Do You Always Need To Replace The Entire Exhaust System?
You do not always need to replace the entire exhaust system. The exhaust is made up of multiple parts which can potentially be taken apart individually. However, the most effective and efficient method would be to replace the full exhaust system at once.
The likelihood is that if a part of your exhaust has rusted, then its fasteners will have too, making it difficult to remove from the rest of the exhaust.
The Issue Of Maintenance
This could lead to problems in fixing the new part on to the older parts, making the prospect of replacing the entire system a more tempting one. By replacing one part at a time, you will also have the inconvenience of constant maintenance to contend with. This will involve taking the exhaust apart every so often, rather than replacing it entirely and not having to worry about it for a long time.
While it may seem cheaper to replace one part at a time, if you want to get it done professionally you will have to consider the added labor costs of multiple replacements. However, if one part is in a severely worse state than the rest or is somehow damaged or faulty, it may make sense to replace it individually, although this is unlikely to be the case with a stock exhaust system.
In short, you don’t always need to replace the entire exhaust system, as the parts can be taken out and replaced individually. It is, however, more sensible in most cases to replace the entire system, as you will save time and money in the long run.
Can You Replace Your Exhaust System Yourself?
You can replace your exhaust system yourself if you have the right tools and experience for the job. While it isn’t the most challenging modification to make, you’ll require the right amount of mechanical knowledge in order to safely and securely complete the procedure.
NOTE: If you don’t feel entirely comfortable doing it yourself, then it’s best to go to an expert, as it is a very important part of your car
It is important that you make sure to have the exact replacement parts that you need, accurately measured to fit the underside of your vehicle. You will also need a strong and secure jack or garage lift to hold your car, as the results won’t be too pretty if it collapses while you’re working on it!
It is important to have complete confidence in your ability to change the exhaust perfectly. While it may cost a fair bit of money to go to a garage for the modification, it eliminates most of the risk of things going wrong.
KEY POINTS• There are various types of exhaust system replacements available
• These will affect the overall cost of replacing your exhaust
• You can replace it yourself, but you’ll need the right tools and knowledge to do so safely
Are Aftermarket Exhausts Worth It?
Aftermarket exhausts can be worth it, but not always. On the one hand, they can improve your fuel economy, but you need to make sure whatever aftermarket exhaust system you choose is legal to use on your vehicle depending on where you live.
Positives Of Aftermarket Exhausts
Aftermarket exhausts have plenty of advantages, including the possibility of better fuel economy. The better quality of parts often used in aftermarket exhausts means that you can improve the airflow through the exhaust pipe, decreasing backpressure and therefore reducing the amount of wasted energy when you put your foot on the accelerator.
There is the tempting possibility of adding power to your engine when you install an aftermarket exhaust system. With clear pipes and a reduction in back pressure, your engine will be set free with the potential to deliver more power. This, however, is not a guarantee, and may not be the case every time.
Negatives Of Aftermarket Exhausts
Localized car regulations may not take kindly to a car with an aftermarket exhaust installed. Increased power may fall foul of emissions and environmental rules, which may see your exhaust system deemed illegal. It is very important that you check all your local regulations before you invest in an aftermarket exhaust system to make sure you don’t waste your time or money.
Aftermarket exhausts have a distinct sound and look to them. This is obviously purely subjective, but the uniqueness of the aesthetic is certainly something to ponder before you purchase. While the traditional stock exhaust systems won’t attract much attention, aftermarket exhausts will, meaning it ultimately depends on whether you want to catch people’s eyes (or ears) or not.
How Long Do Exhaust Systems Last?
The lifespan of an exhaust system will likely depend on the way you drive, and how often you drive. The vehicle make and model will also be a factor, as some manufacturers are known for using higher quality parts with longer lifespans. In many cases, your exhaust system will last as long as the car.
If you are a real car enthusiast, and you have upgraded your exhaust system to a non-stainless-steel setup, then you can expect the exhaust system to last around five years. Once again, you must factor in your driving style and frequency of your journeys. The terrain on which you usually drive can have an impact, with bumpy country lanes having the ability to loosen parts of the exhaust system.
How To Know When Your Exhaust System Needs Replacing
There are a few signs to look out for when you think your exhaust system may need replacing. One of the most noticeable is reduced fuel efficiency, caused by leaks in the exhaust pipe increasing the temperature in the engine. You may also experience a reduction in overall engine power, which will lower the power of your car’s acceleration.
Problems won’t necessarily be purely performance based, as you may experience rattling from loose or rusty parts, and vibrations when travelling at speed. Hissing noises are also a by-product of a failing exhaust system, caused by loose parts or pipe leaks. If your exhaust system is ageing, parts of it may sag slightly, which will be noticeable on a close-up inspection.
It is important to keep on top of any necessary repairs or upgrades, as faulty exhausts can emit potentially poisonous gases into the car. These will be caused by leaks in the exhaust pipes, heating up and melting different components causing a burning smell.
Thankfully, modern cars have sophisticated enough technology to warn us of any issues with the vehicle’s inner workings and will display a ‘check engine’ light on the dashboard. If this light appears, it is best to get your car to a garage as quickly as possible to get the problem resolved.
Replacing an exhaust system can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $1000+ depending on the car. However, despite the price that you can pay, it will likely be worth it, as having a fully functioning exhaust system will improve your fuel economy and save you money in the future.