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SN95 Exhaust Breakdown

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Every mustang has an exhaust system, whether it's just headers or a full cat-back.

Here's a little information on the exhaust setup of Mustangs.

There are 3 main parts to your exhaust system. The headers, the mid-pipe, and the cat-back.


Headers (Exhaust Manifolds):

Headers collect the exhaust gases from multiple cylinders into one pipe.The high pressure exhaust gas created by the engine escapes into the exhaust manifold or header.

There are 2 main different types of headers, shorty or long-tubes. Long-tube headers are not legal in all states, so make sure to check your local laws.

Shorty Headers: Great for daily drivers. Small gain in horsepower and torque, and they are fairly easy to install with the proper equipment. By replacing your factory exhaust manifolds with aftermarket shorty headers, you allow the exhaust to flow freer which lowers resistance and creates additional horsepower. Shorty headers can be used with the factory mid-pipe or a standard length aftermarket mid-pipe.

Long-tube Headers: Great for performance applications. Long tube headers give a nice gain in horsepower and torque in the higher RPM range. Long tubes are more difficult to install. Long tube headers will require the use of a shorty mid-pipe. Not all long tubes work on convertibles because of subframe and transmission clearance issues.

Mid-length Headers: A lowered mustang friendly header. They sit higher, and they produce almost equal gains to longtubes.



The mid-pipe is the piping directly behind the headers. The mid-pipe usually consists of catalytic converters (cats). A catalytic converter is a vehicle emissions control device which converts toxic byproducts of combustion in the exhaust of an internal combustion engine to less toxic substances by way of catalysed chemical reactions. Basically it takes as much of the harmful chemicals out of your exhaust and tries to save the planet.

There are 3 main different types of mid-pipes. An X-pipe, an H-pipe, and a Y-pipe. Mustang Gt's/Cobras come stock with H-pipes. V6's come with Y-pipes.


The difference between an H-pipe and X-pipe:

H-Pipe: Great sounding, moderate gains! An “H-pipe” will give you some low end torque and will be freer flowing than the stock mid-pipe, which increases your Mustang’s hp! It will also help create a deep, lower toned growl which is similar to the sound of old school muscle cars.

X-Pipe: Great sounding with greater performance gains! “X-pipes” are good for high end horsepower and torque, which is why many performance vehicles utilize the “X” design over the “H” design. The “x” allows the exhaust to flow more smoothly to the rear of the car. An “X-pipe” will have a louder, raspier sound than an H-pipe. It’s a great fit if you are looking for all out performance.

What is an off-road/catless mid-pipe?

An off-road mid-pipe is a mid-pipe without any catalytic converters. Whether they have been gutted or you have a whole new system without them, the term off-road is used to describe a system that isn't meant for the street (but instead for the track). Having no cats provides various benefits, the main ones being more power and more sound (due to the less restrictive system). Not all off-road pipes are legal, as some states require cats. This is where high-flow cats come into place. High flow cats are catylitic converters that result in an improvement in exhaust flow, which leads to more power. They are legal in most states and you shouldn't have a problem passing smog with high-flow cats.

Are there other types of mid-pipes?

Yes, actually. MAC offers a very unique mid-pipe called the pro-chamber. The MAC Pro Chamber goes even futher than the Traditional X & H-Pipes to produce more torque and horse power by merging the exhaust pulses into one area. Merging of all exhaust gases creates higher temperatures which creates a boost in exhaust velocity and allows the exhaust gases to see and use both outlets.

Shorty of full length?

If you are running long-tubes, you are required to run a shorter mid-pipe. Shorty mid-pipes are offered in X, H, and Pro Chamber designs with or without cats.


The Cat-back:

The exhaust cat-back refers to the part of the exhaust system behind the cats 'hence the word cat-back'. The cat-back usually consists of the mufflers and the tailpipes.

The most important part of the cat-back is the mufflers. Mufflers mainly determine the tone and sound of your car but also provide power if used in the right application.


Choosing a set of mufflers for you car is probably the hardest decision you will have to make in terms of your exhaust. There are a variety of styles such as chambered, resonators, glass-packs (cherry bomb), straight through, or custom. Each have their benefits and each offer their very unique tone. There are also a variety of muffler distributors to pick from such as Flowmaster, Magnaflow, SLP, Borla, MAC, and so on. Before choosing a muffler, I suggest searching youtube for various sound clips of the muffler in action. Make sure to search for your specific car because every car will sound different even with the same muffler.



After the muffler lies the tailpipes. Buying a whole new catback will provide you with a new set of tailpipes as opposed to just welding on some mufflers and keeping the stock ones. Tailpipes are typically 2.5" in diameter after the muffler and expand to up to 4" at the end of the tips. Their are also a few option for the look of the tips including rolled, slant cut, dumped etc.


Edited by Ferocious
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Are those the same as equal length? I don't know much about them.

Gimme a good definition so I can add it in :tongue-new:

They're basically a lowered mustang friendly header. They sit higher, and they produce almost equal gains to longtubes.

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