The Right Pitch For Any Build: The Top Diesel Exhaust Systems


In this comprehensive exploration of diesel truck exhaust systems, readers are invited to investigate the diverse world of aftermarket upgrades. The story offers a detailed overview of options from cat-back exhaust systems designed to optimize airflow and performance to specialized exhaust kits tailored for dual exhaust trucks.

Whether it’s enhancing sound, boosting power, or improving efficiency, this guide aims to shed light on various choices truck enthusiasts have when selecting the perfect exhaust system for their vehicles. We’ll break down key factors to consider when choosing the right exhaust system for your diesel truck, ensuring you get the best fit for your needs and preferences.

Exhaust Systems 101: What Is An Exhaust System?

Although this may seem too easy of a topic, it is best to assume not all readers know everything. So, we’ll start at the basics. An exhaust system is a vital component responsible for managing and directing engine exhaust gases. It is quite literally the pipeline that engines emit their fumes and they are comprised of several key parts.

While not all exhaust systems have some of these components, we’ll discuss all options to educate you in this space better. Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF): This component removes the particulate matter (also known as soot) from the exhaust to reduce emissions. Catalytic Converter: These convert harmful pollutants in the exhaust into less harmful substances through chemical reactions.

Diesel Oxidation Catalyst (DOC): This is another device that some exhaust systems have that assist in converting harmful gases like carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons into less harmful gases like carbon dioxide and water. Exhaust pipes: The pipeline that runs from the exhaust manifold (or manifolds) backward leading the exhaust out the back of the truck.

Lastly, the remaining two components, and possibly the most popular, are the Muffer (or mufflers) and the Exhaust tip: (or exhaust tips). A muffler is a component that exhaust travels through. Once the sound of the exhaust travels through a muffler, its noise is reduced. A muffler dampens the sound waves from the engine’s combustion. The exhaust tips, while they don’t serve much of a performance upgrade, this is where truck enthusiasts can let their creativity run wild. The exhaust tip is the visible part of the exhaust system that can be customized for aesthetics.

An Exhaust System For Everyone: Different Types Available


You may have heard the term “cat-back” exhaust. What is that? For those of you who don’t know, “cat-back exhaust” refers to the portion of an exhaust that extends from the catalytic converter to the tailpipe. This includes, for the most part, a resonator muffler, and the tailpipe. Upgrading to a cat-back exhaust system can improve the performance, sound, and appearance of your truck.

What are some of the benefits of a cat-back exhaust? Performance improvements, enhanced sound, improved fuel economy, and aesthetic appeal. By upgrading to this style of exhaust, you’re reducing exhaust back pressure. This leads to better engine efficiency and performance which inevitably increases output.

Not only will it run better than before, but it will also revitalize the sound of your truck. Enhancing the sound of your truck is an easy way to fall in love with it again. When you get instant results after an upgrade like exhaust, it feels like a new unit altogether. A lot of truck owners use cat-back exhaust systems to present a more aggressive, deeper exhaust note.

While not a significant improvement, some users have reported a slight increase in fuel economy due to the engine being able to exhaust and breathe better. These cat-back systems come in many different shapes and sizes and are typically at a competitive price.

Performance Exhaust Systems

Moving on, we make a stop at performance exhaust systems for trucks. Performance systems are pretty self-explanatory, they target maximum output. A performance exhaust system for trucks is designed to optimize the flow of gases, which can lead to improved engine performance, fuel efficiency, and a louder sound.

Much like the cat-back style exhaust, there are gains to be had. However, this kit typically comes with everything, engine to the tailpipe. These also come in many different sizes and materials where you can fine-tune a choice for your build and improve your daily driving experience.

A free-flowing exhaust system with a larger-than-stock diameter will inevitably yield more horsepower and torque.

Dual Exhaust System

Again, very self-explanatory, a dual exhaust system allows you to have two exits at the rear of the truck versus only one. Trucks with a dual exhaust system will encounter the same improvements that they could with the cat-back and performance systems but aesthetically, it will look completely different.

An exhaust system is an opportunity for truck owners to really go wild and customize it as much as possible. Like wheels, tires, or other additional exterior add-ons, this is one of the first upgrades that is visualized upon ownership.

Considerations When Choosing Your Exhaust System

With more knowledge about truck exhaust systems, we need to discuss things to consider when choosing which exhaust system to go with. There are four main things to consider; Emissions compliance, material, sound level, and installation.

Emissions compliance: You must ensure that the exhaust system is designed to work with your truck’s emissions equipment to remain compliant. To meet federal and some local regulations, this is required. Unless, of course, you’re upgrading a dated truck that was built before the emissions equipment we often see on today’s style of truck.

Materials: If you’re wondering why materials are something to consider, you need to think about the investment. You’re spending your hard earned money on upgrades and you want it to last, right? If you choose a cheaper, less durable material, chances are, it won’t last as long as you wish it would. Protect your investment, and go with a better material.

What kind of materials are available in exhaust systems? Stainless steel, aluminized steel, and in extreme (and expensive) cases, titanium and carbon fiber. While it isn’t recommended to use carbon fiber for full exhaust systems, in some high-performance applications where weight-savings are key, it has been done. Titanium, while very lightweight and appealing to the eye, can quite literally cost a fortune to use.

Aluminized steel is a very common material that is used in exhaust systems and has some popularity among truck enthusiasts. It is cost-effective, corrosion-resistant, and lightweight. Aluminized generally costs less money to buy which is why it is a popular choice. Although it is lighter and has some corrosion-resistant properties, there is a trade-off. It doesn’t hold up nearly as long as stainless steel.

Stainless steel is similar but really a more durable material. It costs more to buy, and the corrosion resistance it offers is superior over the aluminized, but it does weigh more. If for some reason you’re looking for extreme weight savings, aluminized could be the option for you. If you reside in a climate where corrosion could become a factor, protect that investment, and go with a stronger stainless steel system.

Sound: Stock exhaust systems are designed to minimize noise, resulting in a mild and quiet exhaust note. In contrast, upgrading to a performance exhaust system can provide a deeper and more aggressive tone, enhancing the overall sound without necessarily increasing the volume significantly.

A cat-back exhaust system replaces the components from the catalytic converter and back, offering a balanced sound that strikes a middle ground between performance and volume, resulting in a slightly deeper and more aggressive tone. When choosing the right exhaust sound for your truck, personal preference plays a significant role.

Some individuals may prefer a mild and quiet exhaust note, while others may lean towards a louder more noticeable sound. It’s essential to consider local noise regulations, too. The main sizes available for truck exhaust are 4” and 5”. A 4” exhaust system offers sufficient flow, a deeper sound, and a sizable difference appearance-wise on the tailpipe. When you make the jump to 5”, you will get even more volume in terms of sound and flow.

Exhaust System Installation

Truthfully, when it comes to the act of installing an exhaust system, regardless of the material, it will be pretty self-explanatory. However, if you buy a less expensive kit, there is a good chance the piping may not have correctly orientated hangers, no hangers at all, etc. More often than not, these kits universally come ready to put on but it is something to think about. Before pulling the trigger on an exhaust system, be sure you’re getting an application-specific one.

Always prioritize safety by working in a well-ventilated area and wearing safety equipment to prevent injury. Prepare your truck by raising it with a jack and secure it with jack stands ensuring it is on a level surface and high enough you have room to work. You will start after the truck is cooled off, but you will carefully begin removing the old exhaust system and loosening clamps, bolts, and hangers, and use penetrating oils if you need to.

A good tip before starting the installation is laying out the new system and finding out which pieces go where, before being underneath the truck. Once you have it laid out, you’ll start from the engine to the tailpipe and begin. Once you line up the hangers and get everything into place and tight, you’ll want to check for leaks.

Ensure there are no vibrations, unusual noises, leaks, etc. As long as you’re happy with the results and things are flowing as they should, you’re good to go.

In Conclusion

In this in-depth look into diesel truck exhaust systems, we’ve reached into the vast world of aftermarket upgrades, from cat-back systems to specialized dual exhaust kits. We’ve highlighted the essential components like the diesel particulate filter, catalytic converter, and the optional diesel oxidation catalyst, as well as the aesthetic features like mufflers and exhaust tips that allow for personalization.

We’ve explored various types of exhaust systems, such as performance-focused cat-back systems that enhance engine efficiency and sound, and performance exhaust systems designed for maximum output. Additionally, we discussed the dual exhaust system, which offers both performance benefits and a distinct aesthetic appeal.

When choosing the right exhaust system, considerations such as emissions compliance, material durability, sound level, and installation ease are crucial. Whether opting for stainless steel for longevity or aluminized steel for cost-effectiveness, it’s essential to align your choice with your specific needs and preferences.

Finally, the installation process, though straightforward, requires attention to detail. Prioritizing safety, and following the manufacturer’s instructions will ensure a proper fit and optimal performance. With the right exhaust system in place, truck enthusiasts can enjoy enhanced performance, improved sound, and a customized look that reflects their unique style.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *