This week on Ridiculously Easy Mods, we’ll be covering the final part of the initial trifecta, the first three essential power mods you should add to any car. We first ran through a quick tutorial on how to install a cold air intake. Then we talked about the power programmer, and how you could probably use one in the middle of a nap. Today we’ll talk about the performance exhaust, focusing on one of our favorite exhaust brands, Flowmaster. It’s the final corner of the performance foundation, and as with the others, installing yours will be painfully easy.
Easy, that is, if you remember a couple of key steps. The first is making sure you order the right one. An exhaust pipe, as any veteran motorcyclist’s ankles will tell you, gets very hot, so it’s important that your pipes don’t come into contact with any local bits of less heat-resistant material, like wiring or fuel lines. But if you get the right one, and Flowmaster is good at making sure you do, it will be specifically designed for your vehicle, and no flames will be necessary.
Speaking of oxidation, rust is the other big obstacle for which you should prepare yourself. Sure, on the Youtube videos, that guy in his fancy shop shirt and enameled garage can remove an exhaust before his faux-rock instrumental soundtrack has to loop, but in the real world, your stock exhaust is likely fused into place more firmly than an NHL goalie defending a shootout…during the playoffs…in game seven. And the heat doesn’t help.
To coax it free, go visit your car the night before the operation, slide yourself (safely) underneath, and shoot the exhaust bolts and O2 sensor socket (if needed) with penetrating oil. Let it soak in for a few hours then hit it again. It’s not a bad idea to spray down your bushings, as well, since they can be pretty mule-headed, too. The more times you can do this, the better. Just don’t get goofy on the fumes.
Now that the precautions are out of the way, it’s time to get started.
Unbolt the old exhaust and set it aside. Just what bolts to “un” will depend on which exhaust you’ve ordered, be it cat-back (everything behind the catalytic converter), header-back (everything past the headers), turbo-back (you get the idea), or just a muffler. If you’re also replacing the bits in front of the catalytic converter, don’t forget to unscrew the oxygen sensor.
Install the included mounting brackets, if applicable. Some kits don’t require any additional brackets, but others do. If you’re bolting an x-pipe onto a stock F-150, for example, you’ll need a bracket, since the truck was set up in the factory for a single pipe. Thankfully, those designers are usually thoughtful enough to add a hole for hardware. This is where the mounting bracket goes.
Plug in the new exhaust system, starting from the front and moving to the back. Make sure the pipes are supported during this operation. You don’t want to put undue stress on the connection points. Use all the included clamp bolts then lightly tighten each of them. You’ll want to leave them loose enough to make small adjustments to straighten out your pipes and make sure they’re not coming into contact with anything melt-able. See above note about heat.
Tighten everything back into place using your Asgardian strength, put your O2 sensor back where you found it, and make sure nothing can move any further than the rubber bushings allow.
And, as the English would say, Bob’s your uncle. You’re done. There’s the performance trifecta in one, leisurely afternoon. Now your engine can breathe in, metabolize, and breathe out much more easily than it had when it rolled out of the factory. That means more power for you when you need it, and better track times when you just want it.