If you are a sports or muscle car enthusiast, you probably love a car with great exhaust sound. You might be aware that one of the factors that determine the loudness of your car engine is the exhaust system. Therefore, you might consider changing your exhaust system to a straight pipe. The big question is, “How much does it cost to straight pipe a car?”
The cost of straight piping a car depends on the type of the car, the labor costs, and the type of exhaust you want to install. Typically, it can cost $1000-$1500 to straight pipe your car. The cost is inclusive of labor and the parts. The straight pipe exhaust kit may cost $500 or more, while the labor is $75 to $200, depending on the location and amount of work.
If you are in a dilemma about whether to install a straight pipe in your car, you need to know the advantages and disadvantages. This article dives into straight pipes’ benefits, installation costs, and drawbacks.
What is a Straight Pipe in a Car?
When you buy a new car, it comes with a standard exhaust system with a muffler and catalytic converter. The catalytic converter’s function in a car is to reduce environmental pollution by converting harmful engine gases like Nitrogen Oxide and Carbon Monoxide into less toxic substances like water vapor and carbon dioxide. On the other hand, the muffler reduces the engine noise so that your car drives with minimal noise.
Though the muffler and the catalytic converter are beneficial in reducing noise and pollution, they prevent the engine from maxing out its power by putting pressure on it. The straight pipe comes in handy to maximize the engine power and give your car an excellent exhaust sound.
A straight pipe exhaust is a straight exhaust pipe with no standard exhaust system parts like the catalytic converter, resonator, and muffler.
The straight pipe exhaust runs straight from the exhaust headers of your car to the back without any restrictions. Due to the absence of the standard exhaust system components, your car will be louder than standard cars.
Is it Worth Investing in a Straight Pipe Exhaust?
Straight pipe exhausts are mostly installed in performance and racing cars to boost their engine performance to the maximum. So, should you invest in a straight pipe exhaust in your standard car like a sedan?
The quick answer is yes since there are various benefits associated with the straight pipe exhaust system. These advantages include:
1. Enhanced Engine Sound
If you love a car with an aggressive sound, the straight pipe exhaust will give you what you are looking for. Due to the removal of the muffler, which reduces engine noise, the straight pipe helps deliver the true engine sound when you start the engine and drive.
Since the exhaust pipe is straight from the exhaust headers, it coughs out your car’s real, unfiltered sound and makes it sound like a race car. Though some drivers may enjoy driving cars with loud thrilling sounds, other road users may find it disturbing.
It is also imperative to note that some jurisdictions prohibit loud cars. You can install a straight pipe with a muffler to enhance the sound and reduce noise.
2. Improved Car Performance
One of the main factors that should justify investing in a straight pipe is the performance boost to your car. The normal exhaust systems have many restrictions, such as oxygen sensors, catalytic converters, and Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF). These components make it hard and more time-consuming for the gases to pass from the engine to the atmosphere.
With a straight pipe exhaust, the time taken to transfer engine fumes from the exhaust headers into the environment is reduced. Furthermore, it minimizes the backpressure exerted on the car engine, making it run at full throttle with no restrictions.
The straight pipe does not boost the engine performance by a high margin. However, it will increase the engine performance by about 2-3%, increasing the horsepower by 10-20 depending on the car’s horsepower. With such additional horsepower, you will feel the difference when you drive the car.
3. Increased Fuel Efficiency
The back pressure reduces when you remove the mufflers and catalytic converters in your car. With this reduction, the engine can burn fuel and emit exhaust gases faster, increasing combustion efficiency.
The enhanced combustion and faster fuel burning and emission make the engine use lesser fuel and give your car a better fuel economy.
4. Decreased Car Weight
If your car has more weight, it will not be able to race other lighter vehicles. You can reduce the overall weight of your car by installing a straight pipe exhaust. The components of the standard pipe increase the weight of your car due to the metals used in making them.
The straight pipe does not contain components that increase the weight as it only features a single exhaust pipe running from the engine to the rear. Therefore, it will result in your car having lesser weight.
5. Better Aesthetics
Though aesthetics does not add to the performance of your car, having a car that looks sporty and is outstanding in the parking lot is something to consider. Changing your car’s exhaust system into a straight pipe gives your car an amazing sporty look.
You can further enhance the appearance by dividing the tailpipe into a dual-exhaust system or using chrome plating to make it more outstanding. Straight pipes are available in numerous colors and designs to make your car’s appearance more amazing.
If you were wondering if investing in a straight pipe is worth it, the above benefits should give you the go-ahead to make the final decision. However, nothing has advantages and lacks a few demerits. Let’s check at a few disadvantages of straight pipes.
Drawbacks of a Straight Pipe Exhaust
Though the straight pipe exhaust enhances the performance of your car, makes it sound better, and saves fuel, it has several drawbacks. These disadvantages include:
1. High Installation Cost
The cost of buying a straight pipe and hiring a mechanic to install it may hurt your pocket. Straight pipes are usually costly since they should be made from solid materials like aluminum steel or stainless steel, which can withstand the pressure from the engine.
The labor costs are also high as the mechanic must remove the old exhaust system and then fit the straight pipe from the engine to the rear of your vehicle. The cost can also increase as the straight pipe exhaust system may require you to tune up your vehicle and make it perform perfectly with the new system.
2. Increased Emissions
The catalytic converters play a major role in reducing your car’s emissions and minimizing environmental pollution. When you install a straight pipe, you remove the catalytic converter, leading to the emission of toxic gases into the environment.
The lack of a catalytic converter will also make your car fail the exhaust emission test, which may result in legal problems.
3. Disturbing Noise Levels
Though driving a car with an aggressive and sporty engine sound may be fun, it will disturb other road users and people living around your neighborhood. A car with a powerful engine and straight pipe exhaust system can wake up the neighbors, especially when driving late at night or early mornings.
The disturbing noise can push the people living around to file complaints to the police prompting them to arrest you or tow your vehicle away. In most cases, cars with straight pipes are used in racing track events. If there is a racing track within your locality, you can install a straight pipe and use it there.
4. Affects the Resale Process
When modifying your car, it is important to consider if it will affect the resale process if you decide to sell it at one point. The straight pipe exhaust system may make it hard to find a customer for your car due to legal issues. Most jurisdictions require a car to have a catalytic converter and not produce disturbing noise.
Many people may decline to buy the car due to the lack of a regular exhaust system. Additionally, most people do not love cars that produce a lot of noise. You might have to incur additional costs to change the exhaust system to the regular type to sell the car. However, you can find a customer that loves loud cars, and you make the sale.
5. Legal Issues
In various states in the US, it is illegal to drive a car with no catalytic converters. Additionally, some states also make it illegal to remove mufflers from cars. Therefore, removing these components and installing a straight pipe may attract legal issues.
Another legal issue may occur because your car produces loud noises when driving. If your car is extremely loud and you kick the rpm to high levels when cold starting the engine in the morning, you might trigger the authorities’ actions.
How Much Does It Cost to Straight Pipe a Car?
The cost for straight piping your car will depend on the mechanic cost, type of straight pipe, and the model of your car. Typically, installing the straight pipe will be around $1000 or more, including mechanic costs.
Installing a straight pipe exhaust system requires the mechanic to remove your car’s muffler and the catalytic converter and then weld the straight pipe into place. The mechanic may also fine-tune your car to ensure it runs smoothly with the new straight pipe exhaust system.
Generally, the labor costs for straight piping a car will range from $75 to $200. The cost will depend on the location and the number of hours it will take to finish the entire installation process. Therefore, the cost can go higher than $200 if more hours are needed.
You can find cheaper mechanics in your area to reduce the installation cost to about $500 or $600, but cheaper straight pipes may not last long. More so, improperly installed straight pipes may cause more damage to your car.
Besides the labor costs and type of straight pipe, other factors affect the cost of installing a straight pipe exhaust. These include:
- The diameter of the pipe: The cost for exhaust pipes increases with an increase in diameter. If you go for a pipe with a larger diameter, the cost will increase. You can buy the standard pipe with a 2.5-inch diameter.
- Pipe gauge: You should go for a thicker pipe like 12-gauge steel to ensure the best quality and durability. However, 16-gauge steel is also long-lasting.
- Modifications: Most vehicles are not built to house a straight pipe exhaust system. Therefore, it can be challenging to install it without any modifications. You might have to incur extra costs for the mechanic to add some parts or modify the vehicle’s exhaust manifold.
- Make and model of your car: If your car’s configuration makes it challenging to change the exhaust system, the mechanic will take more hours to install it. Therefore, you will have to pay extra.
Having learned the factors that affect the cost of installing a straight pipe exhaust system, let’s look at how to minimize the cost by installing it yourself and saving mechanic costs.
Can You Straight Pipe a Car Yourself?
If you are working on a tight budget and don’t want to incur the costs of hiring a professional mechanic, you can DIY install a straight pipe exhaust system at home.
To install the straight pipe exhaust, you must buy a straight pipe exhaust kit. However, it is imperative to note than professionally welded straight pipes are more durable than DIY straight pipes.
Most straight pipe exhaust kits will cost you $100-$200 or more, depending on the quality. The kit comprises a straight exhaust pipe and several bent pipes.
The function of the bent pipe is to make it possible to get around the car’s components when installing the straight pipe.
Some of the exhaust kits you can consider purchasing include the Auto Dynasty 2.5” OD DIY Exhaust Pipe Kit or Blackhorse Racing 3” Stainless Steel T304 Straight & Bend Exhaust Kit.
If you only require the exhaust pipe, you can purchase the cheap standalone pipes as they cost less than $100. Most of these aftermarket pipes are compatible with all cars but will require to be welded.
If the standalone pipe you bought is not compatible with your vehicle, hire a mechanic to modify and fit it.
How to Install a Straight Pipe Yourself
Replacing your car’s exhaust system and installing a straight pipe exhaust system is not complicated. You can do it yourself within three hours if you follow the right procedure. To install the straight pipe, follow these steps:
- Measure the Exhaust pipe: Determine the size you need to fit the straight exhaust from the engine to the rear of your vehicle. Once you have the measurements, add about six inches to fit into the exhaust headers.
- Cut the pipe: After marking the measurements on the pipe, use a hacksaw or Mandrel cutter to cut the exhaust pipe. You will also need to file the rough edge to make it smooth.
- Detach the old exhaust system: The next process is removing your standard exhaust system’s catalytic converter and muffler. Loosen the bolts and remove the components while taking care not to damage them.
- Join the straight pipe: After removing the catalytic converter and muffler, you will find the exhaust manifold where you will attach the straight exhaust pipe. You can attach the pipe using cheap pipe clamps but not long-lasting or weld it for enhanced durability.
- Test the engine: Once you’ve fitted the straight exhaust pipe, start the car and run a test drive to confirm that the straight pipe exhaust is fitted properly.
You can install a straight pipe without losing money on professional repair mechanics with the above process. Ensure you have the required tools before starting the process and take care not to damage any car components.
Is Straight Piping a Car Illegal?
Depending on the state or country, installing a straight pipe in a streetcar can be legal or illegal. There are no laws governing the legality of straight pipe exhaust systems in some regions. However, some states have laws restricting the noise a car engine can produce.
Another key consideration is whether your region has rules on emission tests. In some areas, a car must pass the emission test to be legally allowed to operate on roads. Therefore, it may be illegal to remove the catalytic converter and install a straight pipe. To determine if straight piping your car is legal or not, consult the local authorities.
A straight pipe is an excellent car modification to boost your car’s engine sound and performance. To ensure you get a high-quality or durable straight exhaust pipe, buy the best parts and consult your professional mechanic. However, if you know the nitty-gritty of engines and exhaust systems, buy a kit or standalone pipe and install it yourself. Once everything is set, hop in and enjoy the sporty sound and performance.
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