Home Diagnosis and TroubleshootingExhaust System Straight Pipe Exhaust – Sound, Performance, & Fuel Economy Explained

Straight Pipe Exhaust – Sound, Performance, & Fuel Economy Explained

by Jordan Harris
Straight Pipe Exhaust

If you’re looking to make your car sound and look sportier, the straight pipe exhaust system is what you need. This racing exhaust produces a loud and throaty sound that will stop passers-by in their tracks. A noise so loud your friends and neighbors will think that you’ve swapped your sedate street car for something far more expensive.

[one_half content_align=”left”]


[one_half_last content_align=”left”]


You might need to wear earplugs but don’t worry too much. The growl of the exhaust notes when you put your foot down will make you forget you even had them in. If you want to hear what a straight pipe sounds like, fellow car enthusiasts at the MattyB727 YouTube channel posted a video of an Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 with a straight pipe exhaust earlier this year.

Changing the exhaust system on your car isn’t easy or cheap so it’s important that you know the pros and cons of what you are letting yourself in for. But if you are curious about why some cars sound so outrageous or if you’ve always wanted to enhance your car’s racing credentials, read on.

First, we’ll answer some common questions about the straight pipe including what does straight piping mean, what is a straight pipe exhaust and how does a straight pipe exhaust work? Then we’ll go over the pros and cons of a straight pipe exhaust. At the end of this article, we’ll talk about how much a straight pipe exhaust costs and where you can buy a straight pipe exhaust.

Let’s get started.

Straight Pipe

Straight piping is simply the term people use when talking about swapping their standard car exhaust for a straight pipe exhaust.

For those who know the basics of a car exhaust already, straight piping is easy to understand. But if you need a quick refresher on exhaust systems, Motor Verso has a simple explanation here.

When you straight pipe your car, you simply drop the muffler and catalytic converter from the standard exhaust. The pipe exhausts, as you may have guessed, are also straight.

By avoiding the twists, turns, and obstructions of a conventional exhaust, exhaust gases in the pipes can run freely from the exhaust head to the exhaust tip. This has a number of benefits as we’ll see below including performance and fuel consumption.

Straight Pipe Exhaust Kit

Even though the straight pipe can alter the character of your car so dramatically, the engineering is disarmingly simple.

The aim of a standard exhaust is to take away unpleasant waste exhaust gases from your engine into the air. The intention is usually to release the gases as far as possible away from the driver and the passengers. This means the exhaust tip is almost always at the rear of the car.

A catalytic converter in an ordinary exhaust system will transform harmful nitrous oxides into less harmful substances.  A muffler (the large tin-shaped object towards the end of the exhaust) will deaden the sounds through a series of passageways (baffles).

The straight pipe exhaust does away with all of these conventions. As the name suggests, straight pipes transfer the noise and gases in one clean swoop from the engine to the exhaust tip. The catalytic converter and muffler are removed meaning no obstructions to the flow of gases. This results in more noise and better engine performance. More on this below.

Benefits Of A Straight Pipe Exhaust

So now you know how it works, you’ll want to decide whether you should set aside your hard-earned money to buy one. Motor Verso has listed the advantages of the set-up below.

1) Better Performance

The second question people will usually ask is does a straight pipe increase horsepower and torque? Increased performance is probably the main reason, along with the incredible sound, that owners invest in a straight pipe exhaust. If your car’s going to sound like a racing car it should really move like one too shouldn’t it?

That’s exactly what the straight pipe exhaust does. By letting exhaust gases flow freely from the exhaust head to the exhaust tip, the pressure is reduced on the engine. This leads to better performance in the form of increased torque and horsepower. The straight pipe exhaust is used on race cars for a reason.

You can bring a part of the racetrack to your car too.

Be aware that modifications to your car’s performance don’t come cheap and changes to the exhaust system of your car will have a significant effect on how your engine works. Cars are finely tuned engineering masterpieces. The mechanics of individual components need to work together in harmony if you are to get the best out of your car. A mechanic or the exhaust pipe supplier should be able to advise you on the best straight pipe exhaust for your car.

2) Unique Sound

Many people thinking about purchasing a straight pipe exhaust will ask “is it noisy?” The answer is yes. Most definitely. It’s probably the main reason people decide to buy a straight pipe exhaust.

Car enthusiasts smile when they hear the roar of a well-tuned engine. Millions of them follow Formula One races and NASCAR for the same reason. Sure, the speeds in motor racing are spectacular and the competition is thrilling. But think of a race without the noise. The atmosphere would be ruined.

The sound from the exhaust brings the car to life. It reveals the car’s personality and the owner’s.

When you fit a straight pipe exhaust you give your car some serious engine noise. Your calm daily driver will be transformed into the wildest and most intense version of itself. The straight pipe exhaust lets out a pure engine sound. What you hear is at the same pitch as the noise that left the engine.

That alone is a privilege worth paying for. How many other car owners will ever hear the real sound of their car engine?

As soon as we mention the noise, people will also ask whether straight piping is legal. The answer is that it depends on where you live. Because all that noise and raw intensity will almost certainly raise a few eyebrows and could even alert the police.

Different jurisdictions have different laws against excessively high noises from motor vehicles. This includes the UK and different states in the US. Make sure you check with the authorities in your area before you invest in a straight pipe exhaust system. Otherwise, your purchase could be sitting pretty in your drive but doing very little else.

3) Fuel Economy

If you remove the catalytic converter and muffler from your exhaust system you are going to save weight. Less weight means better performance and improved fuel economy. So even if the authorities are not too happy with the noise your newly modified vehicle is making, know that you could actually be benefiting the environment by racking up more hydrocarbons to the gallon.

The lack of the catalytic converter could mean your car fails local emissions control tests though. In which case you may instead decide to invest in a cat back exhaust. It’s basically a straight pipe exhaust fitted with a catalytic converter. It may not quite be a straight pipe exhaust but at least you can drive your car with your conscience intact.

4) Appearance

You’re not spending all that money on a new exhaust system for no one to see it, are you? Of course not. When heads turn, you’ll be wanting to impress them with your car’s fresh new appearance. That’s benefit number four.

The straight pipe exhaust comes in many different forms. From full-shine chrome to variegated shades of blue and red. Double pipes might add the extra sporting element you’re looking for. Or perhaps you’ll choose quad exhausts if you really want to leave a mark.

The straight pipe exhaust will add to the sports car design that you’re after and make your car enthusiast friends wish they had your taste. The go-faster stripes and spoilers others may invest in will pale in comparison to the racing image that your straight pipe exhaust will conjure up.

So these are some of the benefits of the straight pipe exhaust. But what about the negatives? You need to weigh these up too before you come to a decision.

Negatives Of A Straight Pipe Exhaust

1) Emissions

Modern cars use catalytic converters to turn harmful by-products of the internal combustion process into safer compounds. Substances such as nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide are turned into nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water. This is better for us because it means less pollution and cleaner air to breathe.

Before catalytic converters were readily used, automobiles contributed to dense air pollution in major cities. London was brought to a standstill in December 1952 because the smog was so thick. In more recent times, Volkswagen has been fined for misleading emissions statistics as Motor Verso reported in 2015.

Stricter emissions standards have to lead to a significant reduction in emissions. The latest European Union regulations permit just 0.06g/km of nitrous oxide emissions for petrol cars. Compare this to 0.97g/km in 1992.

The straight pipe exhaust has no catalytic converter and so you’ll likely not pass an emissions control test and you could be prevented from driving your car. The cat back exhaust system we mentioned earlier will include a catalytic converter. It might also have a muffler delete (simply a muffler removed from the exhaust) in order to maintain the racing sound you’re after.

2) Too Much Noise

That’s right. Noise, as well as being one of the key advantages, can also be a major drawback. The UK’s RAC explains that an excessively loud exhaust could land you with a £50 on-the-spot fine. The Government in the UK also warns that it is illegal to modify the exhaust system after it has passed environmental and safety standards. Laws are no less stringent across the pond with noisy cars illegal in states such as California.

Most people don’t want to hear a Formula One car roaring down their quiet suburban road. Even if you and I quite like the idea. Of course, if you have a racetrack down the road, you could experience the thrill of racing on the smoother bends and tarmac of the course.

Here you’ll likely face no problems pushing the accelerator fully down to the floor and letting the exhaust notes rip.

Some straight pipe devotees will ask whether they should fit a by-pass system. A by-pass system allows you to switch from conventional exhaust to straight pipe exhaust. That means you’d be able to drive from home to the racetrack in your car. This does, of course, create more expense. But you might argue that it’s more practical.

And the added gadgetry is also rather nifty. Something Q might add to a James Bond car.

3) Expensive To Buy And Install

Not good. Expense in the negative category, I hear you say. How much does a straight pipe exhaust cost? They vary in price.  Some websites quote sums of around $1000 and higher. This alone is enough to put off all but the true enthusiast.

While the initial investment may require deep pockets, you can’t rely on recouping your money when you come to sell the car either. The upgrade you thought suited your car so well and gave it that unique sporting edge may not suit everyone. Particularly if it can’t be driven on a public road.

This means that you may find it difficult to sell your car and you could actually lose money on your original investment. There may be no market for the modifications you’ve made. If you do want to sell it, you may find yourself writing out yet another cheque to your local garage to remove the straight pipe and attach a conventional exhaust system.

Considerations Around Straight Pipe Exhausts

Even if you do decide to go for one, there are some other practical factors to take into account too. We’ve answered a few of the remaining questions you may have below before making your decision.

Straight Pipe Exhaust Near Me

There are plenty of customs exhaust shops that will help you to identify and source what you need. A quick search on Google gave me a number of garages within a 20-mile radius claiming to work with straight pipe exhausts.

Ring the shop first before you decide to buy from them. It’s a good way of getting a feel for the people who work there and the type of company it is. If the staff who speak to you sound stressed and bothered, don’t expect the service to improve after you’ve decided to go with them.

Also, look at the outfit they’re running – perhaps by driving past or searching on Google Street View. If the shop is in a grubby part of town or looks run down, you’d probably best avoid it. Why go for a supplier or fitter that can’t afford to look after their premises?

For such an important modification to your car, you want to make sure you get the best you can. It will pay dividends in the long run.

If you’re looking for a straight pipe exhaust for your Toyota Tundra, there are plenty of Tundra exhaust options out there. Even if you’re on a budget, you can find the right exhaust system for your truck and impress all of your friends.

Straight Pipe Installation

Don’t. Unless you know what you’re doing, you’re best leaving it to the professionals. Fitting a straight pipe exhaust is specialist work involving welding so you have to be handy with a torch. You also need to understand at least the basics of how a car engine and exhaust system work.

Exhaust pipes are fundamental to the good functioning of your vehicle. They are not just an aesthetic add-on although they can also enhance your vehicle’s appearance.

Straight Pipe Exhaust Conclusion

The straight pipe exhaust will undoubtedly make you stand out from the crowd. You can be certain that there will be very few drivers out there with an exhaust system quite like yours. The noise and the sight will be entirely different from the more mundane exhaust pipes fitted to the majority of other street cars.

Straight Pipe Cost

But your decision to fit a straight pipe exhaust will only prove to be a sound investment if you are actually able to make use of it. The absence of a catalytic converter and a muffler may mean that you are prevented from using your car anywhere other than on the racetrack and even the tracks may have sound limits.

That’s not much good if you still intend to use the car to go to the shops or to go to work. So if you are using it on the road, just be careful where you use it at full throttle and prepare to pay a fine if you get caught.

Straight Pipe Alternative

On the other hand, if you don’t mind the additional expense, a by-pass switch could enable you to benefit from two exhaust systems – the conventional and the straight-pipe. It also means that you won’t frighten your neighbors every time you reverse out of your drive. A cat back exhaust system could also allow you to pass an emission control test.

The customized appearance of polished chrome pipes under the rear of your car will have a particular appeal. It will turn the heads of passers-by but it could also do the same for your local law enforcement. In conclusion, we’d say: choose wisely.

Facts about Straight Pipe Exhausts

  • A straight pipe exhaust is a replacement for the standard exhausts found in most cars and is preferred by some enthusiasts for the sound and performance of their vehicle.
  • A straight pipe exhaust runs all the way from the exhaust headers to the end, without any catalytic converter or muffler, letting the exhaust gases run freely, resulting in the sound that many motorheads love.
  • The advantages of a straight pipe exhaust include an increase in performance, reduced weight, letting the engine roar, and the belief that it makes the car stand out from the crowd and express the owner’s personality.
  • Disadvantages of straight pipe exhausts include being extremely loud, not being good for the environment due to the harmful emissions, being very expensive to install, and potentially hurting the resale value of the car.
  • Straight-pipe exhausts are often considered irresponsible by some due to their harmful emissions and noise pollution.
  • The installation of a straight pipe exhaust requires a professional and can be illegal in some countries, leading to the resale value of the car taking a hit.
  • Removing the catalytic converter in a straight pipe exhaust results in increased torque, higher horsepower, and, in some cases, an increase in fuel economy.
  • Straight pipe exhausts are an attractive option for many buyers because of the increased performance, looks, and reduced weight they offer.
  • Straight pipe exhausts are not designed to suppress or muffle the sound of the engine and are preferred by purists and track day enthusiasts.
  • The decision to upgrade to a straight pipe exhaust ultimately lies with the owner and their priorities, whether it’s the resale value of the car, the sound and performance of the vehicle, or their impact on the environment.


If you’re curious to know more about straight pipe exhausts, perhaps our FAQs here might help…

What Is A Straight Pipe

In essence, a straight pipe exhaust means exactly that – straight. In modern exhaust systems, there are numerous components that lie between your engine and the tailpipes. This includes parts like the muffler, which muffles (aka softens) the sound of your exhaust. Then, there’s the resonator, which tunes and tweaks the sound of your car. The last major component of your exhaust system is the catalytic converter, which catalyzes the exhaust fumes to scrub away harmful pollutants. If you install a straight pipe, however, you essentially bypass all these components. Thus, creating a straight-through connection between the engine’s exhaust manifold and the tailpipes.

How Much Does It Cost To Straight Pipe A Car

While straight-piping your exhaust sounds cool, it can be rather expensive. A fairly basic and DIY approach to fitting a straight pipe could cost you as little as $200, though it ranges closer to $500 and up. Nevertheless, a lot of people would likely opt for a professional installation instead. Add another $100 to $200 in labor costs, and you can expect it to cost roughly $300 to $600. However, this is a rough average and can fluctuate a lot depending on what car you’re straight piping. And, what sort of straight pipe kit you’re planning to install. In a lot of cases, straight piping a car properly can cost upwards of $1,000 to $1,500.

How To Straight Pipe A Car

Pursuing a straight pipe installation does require you to do a lot of research beforehand. Primarily, you’ll have to gauge whether or not a straight pipe exhaust will fit onto your car, and whether it’ll cause any performance issues. It’s crucial that you don’t contribute to any backflow within the exhaust system. Once you’ve figured that out, you’ll have to lift your car and take apart the old exhaust unit. Be wary of the mounting points, and start by removing components like the catalytic converter. Granted, depending on the laws in your area, you might have to leave the cats on. You can then proceed with cutting, welding, aligning, rust-treating, and fitting in the new exhaust.

Is Straight Piping Legal

Although enthusiasts love the idea of a straight pipe exhaust, their legality is questionable. In most states here in the US, straight pipes are (mostly) illegal. The majority of legislatures in these states have a noise limit that basically prevents you from being able to straight pipe your car. With that being said, straight pipes can be legal if you take certain precautions to not fall foul of the law. What matters is that you install quieter straight pipes which don’t breach these noise limits. Moreover, what straight pipe kit you’re installing can’t produce black smoke and can’t breach emissions limits. Nonetheless, getting past the emissions test can be tricky.

Does Straight Piping Increase HP

One of the best reasons to install a straight pipe exhaust (apart from the oft raw and brutal sounds) is the performance benefits it offers. If you’ve set it up and installed a straight pipe right, you can see an immediate boost in horsepower. This is thanks to the straight-through nature of a namesake straight pipe exhaust. With this, you’re able to reduce backpressure within the exhaust system and allow the exhaust fumes to flow out of your engine much easier. In short, without having mufflers, resonators, and catalytic converters getting in the way, essentially choking or adding obstacles within the exhaust flow.

You may also like

Leave a Comment