What is Straight Pipe Exhaust? Assessing Pros and Cons

After buying a car, many people feel the need to modify it because of their interest or preference. These modifications can be about anything – the appearance of the vehicle, adding accessories, changing some parts, etc. One such transformation is done to the car’s sound using straight pipe exhaust. Many people want to get their vehicle straight piped so that its sound can be loud. This article will discuss all the things related to straight pipe exhaust. What is it? What does it do? What are their benefits and drawbacks? How much does it cost to straight pipe, etc.?

Before learning what a straight pipe is, you must understand its components and an exhaust system. So do not worry if you are a beginner and unable to understand the terminology. This article explains everything easily. So let us start with what an exhaust system is?

Exhaust System of a Car

An exhaust system is a collection of components that work together to make the car function, emit harmful gases, and reduce sound generated. For this, an exhaust system contains a catalytic converter, muffler, exhaust manifold, tailpipe, and resonator.

Exhaust Manifold

This is the first primary component used in an exhaust system. Exhaust manifolds are directly bolted to the engine block, and their design and assembly can vary depending on the type of vehicle. The exhaust manifold collects exhaust gases from the cylinders and passes them to a catalytic converter.

It also serves other purposes like reducing the temperature underneath by controlling heat loss. Furthermore, this helps maintain the car’s performance and prevents gas leaks.

Catalytic Converter

This is another crucial element of the exhaust system. The harmful gases generated by fuel combustion are made less dangerous here.

“A catalytic converter has two chambers that contain three metals that react with the exhaust gases and make them less dangerous. These harmful gases include carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides”.

The first chamber contains a coating of platinum and rhodium and the second one includes a layer of platinum and palladium. The exhaust gases react with these metals and get filtered. Due to this, it is vital to have a catalytic converter because if you remove a catalytic converter, then your vehicle will continue to emit harmful gases and will no longer be able to filter the gases. Moreover, this will also cause a threat to the environment.


The engine’s pistons and valves make a loud sound which can be annoying. A muffler is used to dissipate these loud sounds. A straight pipe muffler contains multiple chambers made for sounds with different intensities, based on the intensity of the sound waves; these waves enter the chamber, bounce back and collide with one another, canceling each other. In this way, the obnoxiously loud sound is reduced.

A resonator is also used in some cars, and a muffler is placed before it. A resonator assist’s the muffler in reducing sound. It works like an echo chamber, dissipates the sound waves by propagating them, and then passes them to the muffler. Resonators help target specific frequencies and exhaust drones, and in this manner, it also helps reduce loud noise.

What is Straight Pipe Exhaust?

Now that you are familiar with the exhaust system and its components, let us understand what straight pipe exhaust is and how much does it cost to straight pipe?

“In simple terms, straight exhaust pipe means having exhaust pipe straight from exhaust manifold or headers (if you have headers) and nothing in between. It does not have any muffler, catalytic converter, or resonator, just the exhaust pipes.”

Some people get confused and call a muffler delete the same as a straight pipe, but it is not true. Both of these things are different.


What does Straight Pipe Exhaust do, and how does it work?

As said earlier, a straight pipe exhaust is a pipe that acts like an exhaust pipe connected directly from the exhaust manifold and nothing in between. This straight pipe allows the airflow to move freely in the tube. As a result, less back pressure is created, leading to the car’s high performance.

Although a catalytic converter, muffler and resonator help in lowering the emission of car and reduce the sound generated, it suppresses the exhaust sound generated due to fuel combustion and also decreases the exhaust flow slightly.

This can overall cause a slight decrease in the performance of the car. Whether or not you plan to install the straight pipe exhaust, ensure to get it done correctly because, like any other exhaust system, its main task is to dispel the toxic exhaust gases generated by the engine out of the car into the atmosphere. If there is any issue in installation, it can cause the gases to leak inside the vehicle, which can be harmful. Ensure to install them correctly.

However, some car enthusiasts love hearing the engine roar while driving; such people get their car straight piped or get a “muffler delete” or remove everything between the exhaust manifold and tailpipe. By getting straight pipe exhaust, your car will become a lot noisier. Thus, before you decide to install a straight pipe exhaust, check the laws regarding emissions and noise generated by cars.

What are the Benefits of Straight Pipe Exhaust?

There are various benefits of straight piping a car, and these advantages are as follows:

Enhanced Horsepower

One evident advantage you will get after a straight pipe exhaust is getting enhanced horsepower. Since no other components can cause back pressure in the pipe, the exhaust gas moves freely. As a result, the horsepower of your vehicle will increase.

Reduces Weight

Removing catalytic converter and muffler will decrease the weight causing better performance. Not only this, when the weight is reduced, your vehicle also becomes efficient and faster. Since the car’s weight is reduced, it can be more fun to drive it around.

Escalate Fuel Efficiency

Even though catalytic converter and muffler are there to help aid the engine and improve performance, they cause load on the system.

“By removing them, you save weight or reduce the weight because of which performance of the vehicle will improve thereby making escalating fuel economy.”

Hence, you will save money on fuel.

Improves Appearance

Everyone wants to stand out from the rest, so this straight pipe is suitable. Not only the sound of the engine will make people’s heads turn, but you can add an element to enhance the appearance. There are multiple options available in the straight pipe exhaust; you can get them in different colors, single pipes, full shine chrome that can be provided in various shades, to add a sporty look to the car; you can get dual pipes or quad exhaust. It depends on your vehicle and your preferences.

Authentic Engine Sound

The number one reason people choose to get a straight pipe exhaust is to hear the sound. A well-tuned engine will make the original engine sound. Many car enthusiasts listen to the engine roar, and it will define your personality and bring your car to life.

Since this makes noise, the question it is legal arises. You should check the laws relating to noise from vehicles in your country before you decide to get straight pipe exhaust. Not only will you spend money on the straight pipe setup, but you will also need to pay a fine if you do not abide by the laws.

What are the Drawbacks of Straight Pipe Exhaust?

As every coin has two sides, similarly, along with advantages, there are some disadvantages as well:

Lack of Flexibility

The design of your vehicle might vary, but you will need to make a lot of amendments to the structure to fit the straight pipes into the exhaust system. When you make even a small modification by cutting out or adding new parts to the system, you need to be extremely careful, as you do not want to impact the airflow and resistance of the vehicle when you are driving.

By deleting the components from the car’s original setup, you subtract or reduce the car’s performance. Although you might achieve the goal of getting a loud sound, the overall performance would be compromised.


Getting a straight pipe setup is very expensive compared to other types of modifications. To make room for the pipes, you will need to restructure your entire exhaust system or customize it according to the type of vehicle you own. Due to this, you should be prepared to incur heavy expenses.

You can use a custom-size pipe so that it can fit your exhaust and car dimensions appropriately. Also, the quality and material of the pipes should be excellent because exhaust gases are high in temperature and can heat the pipe quickly.

You might have to spend somewhere around $1000 if you choose to go for good quality brands for exhaust pipes. If you decide to do it yourself and tune your vehicle all by yourself, it will incur additional expenses, and you should not be surprised even it costs you around $3000 or more.

Harmful for Environment

Even though straight pipes create great sound, they cannot minimize the emissions; on the contrary, they encourage more emissions. Because a catalytic converter is removed, the toxic gases produced due to internal combustion are not purified or filtered and are allowed to release in the atmosphere as it is. This can cause a lot of harm to the environment.

The world is already facing a massive problem due to climate change. By removing the catalytic converter, you will just contribute to the problem instead of solving it. This will exacerbate the issues, and the ramifications can be drastic. Because of this, carbon dioxide levels can increase in the air, causing global warming and thereby depleting our ozone layer. Hence, it is our moral obligation to save our mother Earth.

The best step you can take is to get a cat-back system installed because, in this, you can get both a catalytic converter and a straight pipe setup. In this way, you can get the best of both.


Since a straight pipe exhaust system means not having any muffler, resonator, or catalytic converter, it creates a lot of sounds and emits harmful pollutants. The catalytic converter has two chambers that have three metals that react with exhaust gases and make the toxic fumes less harmful, thereby filtering them.

Hence, there is no way to reduce the dangerous gas when removing the catalytic converter. Also, since there is no muffler, the sound generated by the engine is extremely loud. Hence, it is illegal in many countries and not legal for on-road use.

Extremely Loud

The sound of the exhaust is extremely loud. This is created because of the engine’s piston and valves. The noise can be loud. Even if you are driving, the noise can be heard loudly inside the cabin, you might not be able to listen to horns by other drivers, or you will also have trouble listening to music.

“Prolonged exposure to loud noise can be harmful to your ears.”

To combat this, you should keep a pair of earplugs around, which can diminish the damage. However, in the long run, it might not be suitable. Hence, think carefully before taking any decision.

Affects the Resale Value

If you have straight piped your car and are planning to resell it, then it might be a hell of a ride for you. All the time, effort, and money you spent on it must be reversed. This is because it is usually illegal to have a straight pipe car because of not having a catalytic converter and muffler. So it is likely that you might not clear the sales inspection, which is done during title transfer.

Also, your car may reek of fumes because of the missing converter. To sell such a car, you might either have to reverse the straight pipe setup and get it back to the normal standard exhaust system or find a new owner who also loves the idea of straight pipe exhausts.

How much does it cost to straight pipe a car?

A straight pipe exhaust setup can be expensive, but it depends on the material of the pipe, brand, quality of the pipe, and vehicle. It is essential that you should let the professionals handle the work in an efficient manner. So, in general, you will have to incur expenses on the labor cost, straight pipe exhaust kit, and the cost of pipes.

Labor costs can be around $100 to $200 dollars, whereas the cost of good quality branded pipes can be around $1000 dollars. The exhaust kit can cost nearly $500 to $600. However, the total cost of getting a straight pipe exhaust can go up to $3000 or more depending on your car, its design, and its complexity.

Is straight pipe exhaust harmful to your engine?

This is a hot topic as people have been dubious about it. For some, it is harmful, while it is not harmful to your engine as per others. Let us understand this closely.

The velocity of the air in a straight pipe exhaust increases. The cylinders push out a certain amount of exhaust gases at high speed, frequently depending on the speed of your vehicle. This can cause issues because of the imbalance in the airflow.

It can lead to such problems as understeer or oversteer, especially if you are driving during wet weather or on a slippery surface. Not only this, because of the increased velocity, the engine’s performance is reduced to below 2000 to 2500 rpm (revolutions per minute), which will make your vehicle slower.

Another problem that a straight pipe exhaust system can cause is its interference with the car’s aerodynamics. This happens because the exhaust gases are generated quickly and in large volumes, because of which these gases quickly escape. Due to this, it creates turbulence which further leads to air resistance against your car. This usually happens when you are driving on a flat surface.

Besides this, straight pipe exhaust generates a deafening sound because there is no muffler or resonator to reduce the frequency and tone of the exhaust drone. This can irritate the driver and others, and it will create noise pollution in many cases. Besides that, authorities might stop you and ask you to pay a hefty fine.

Straight pipes are made for racer cars, and hence, they should not be used on streetcars. Both of them have a different system and working. Thus, if you equip straight pipe exhaust on the streetcar, then it can cause more harm to your engine and vehicle in general than causing any good.

Why is Straight Pipe Exhaust Illegal?

Is straight pipe exhaust legal or not depends and varies from one state or country to another. But usually, these are illegal. Just because you can buy a car part from the market does not mean you should necessarily put it to practical use.

Getting a straight pipe exhaust is illegal mainly because of the obvious loud sounds. Usually, a muffler helps prevent the loud noise, and a resonator helps get rid of the exhaust drone and some specific frequencies that make your car sound better instead of annoying.

The noise is generated because the muffler and resonator delete is too loud and obnoxious. It might be cool for you but not for others. For this reason, it is illegal in many states and countries.

Another reason why it is illegal is because of emissions; if you get a catalytic converter removed, it emits toxic fumes, which are harmful to you and the environment. A catalytic converter helps make toxic fumes less dangerous and emits them through the tailpipe.

However, if that is removed, then these poisonous gases remain harmful. Thus, there are laws in many countries where every vehicle owner needs to get their car systems checked annually to clear their inspection or get insurance for their vehicle.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

You might have various queries regarding a straight pipe exhaust. Below are some answers provided for the same:

What kind of impact does straight pipe exhaust have on fuel?

When straight pipes are installed in the exhaust system, and the catalytic converter, muffler, and resonator are removed, the exhaust gases can move or flow freely in the exhaust pipe until the end (exhaust tips). Due to this, the pressure on the engine is reduced, and it further leads to better performance of the car. Also, it improves horsepower as well as increases torque. So straight pipe exhaust has a positive impact on the fuel.

Can check engine light be turned on because of the straight pipe?

In straight pipe exhaust, the air pressure is free-flowing, and as a result, its velocity increases. This will make your car slower than usual also it will slow down during the start. Around 200mph of distance or 2400 rpm can be slowed down because of straight pipe exhaust. You will need to upgrade the car’s exhaust system and improve its performance to get it right.

Is getting a straight pipe exhaust on the car good?

In many countries, the vehicle must have a muffler and catalytic converter, and in the straight exhaust, you remove both and have pipes straight from the manifold till the ends. This can cause an issue, and you may have to pay a fine.

However, other methods include installing cat-back, which does not put a load on the engine and improves the airflow, leading to low fuel consumption. This also enhances horsepower and is also legal.


Although a straight pipe exhaust improves performance, escalates horsepower, increases fuel economy, and enhances performance, it also causes harm to the environment due to high emissions, creates noise pollution.

Furthermore, it is expensive difficult to resale. Also, it is illegal in many countries, which can spoil all the fun. So ensure to think about both the pros and cons thoroughly and then decide accordingly as per your discretion.

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