The exhaust system is one of the most critical components of your car and works to reduce your car’s pollution emissions. Like any car part, over time your exhaust system can break down. If it does, you need to replace it as quickly as possible.
Overall, you can expect to pay around $800 to replace your car’s exhaust system. Most car owners end up paying between $400 to $1,200. Exhaust manifolds cost an average of $500, while downpipes and mufflers cost between $50 to $150 each. Your exact costs depend on the make/model of your car and the extent of the damage.
There are more costs associated with installing an exhaust system. So we put together this comprehensive guide on installing exhaust systems. We will cover the average installation costs for various popular models of cars and also cover the costs of individual parts.
- What Does an Exhaust System Do?
- Exhaust System Install Cost
- Exhaust System Cost per Part
- OEM vs Aftermarket Parts
- Factors that Affect the Cost of Installing an Exhaust System
- Signs of a Broken Exhaust System
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How much does it cost to install an exhaust system?
- How often do I need to replace my exhaust system?
- Do I need to replace the entire exhaust system?
- How long does it take to install an exhaust system?
- Are cat-back or axle-back exhaust systems more expensive?
- Can I replace an exhaust system on my own?
- Can I drive with a broken exhaust system?
- Related Guides
What Does an Exhaust System Do?
The exhaust system works to remove exhaust from the combustion reaction away from your engine. These systems involve one or more exhaust pipes and various components to reduce pollution and noise.
Exhaust systems carry toxic gases away from your car, so they are an important part of making sure your car meets environmental emissions standards. Most states have specific emissions laws for vehicles and require cars to have a functioning exhaust system.
So, if your exhaust system is broken, then you need to get it fixed as quickly as possible. Cars with a broken exhaust will fail emissions standards tests, which means you won’t be able to legally register your car.
Exhaust System Install Cost
The average car owner can expect to pay around $800 to replace a car’s exhaust system. The typical range of prices is from $400 to $1,200. These costs include the parts and labor.
Here is a table showing the average cost of exhaust system replacement for various popular car models.
Honda Civic $550
Honda CRV $850
Toyota Corolla $520
Toyota Camry $550
Chevy Silverado $850
Ford F-150 $600
Ford Fusion $450
Nissan Altima $1,100
BMW 3 Series $1,200
Audi Q5 $900
Audi A3 $1,500
As you can see, the cost of replacing an exhaust system hovers between $450 and $,1200 on average. Luxury brands such as Audi or BMW tend to cost more to replace because they require specific parts and special tools for maintenance. Keep in mind that these costs are just estimates. Your actual costs will depend on the age of your car, the scope of the damage, and your mechanic’s location.
Exhaust System Cost per Part
Exhaust systems can vary but all models have three key components.
- Exhaust manifold
Exhaust systems may have other parts but all share these three. So we will cover the costs of these parts.
Exhaust Manifold Costs
The exhaust manifold is arguably the central piece of your exhaust system. The manifold takes in the toxic gases and prevents them from seeping into your car’s interior. Most modern car models have two exhaust manifolds, one on either side of the engine.
Exhaust manifolds can crack from use over time. Generally speaking, they are made from either cast iron or tubular steel. Iron is cheaper but steel is stronger and less susceptible to corrosion. As the manifold collects gas, it can get very hot, so you need materials that can withstand high temperatures.
The average cost of an exhaust manifold is approximately $500 including parts and labor. Generally speaking, the exhaust manifold is the most expensive part of the exhaust system. For certain models, it can cost up to $900 for the manifold alone while other models may only cost $100 to $200. Labor usually costs between $100 to $300 for installation.;
Here is a table showing the average costs for various popular exhaust manifolds.
|Dorman 647-460 Exhaust Manifold for Ford||$60|
|ECCPP Stainless Steel Exhaust Manifold||$120|
|Cciyu Exhaust Manifold Kit for Jeep||$90|
|Dorman 674-939 for Toyota||$140|
|AT Automotive 101278 Exhaust Manifold for Nissan||$90|
|SCITOO Exhaust Manifold for BMW||$95|
|TUPARTS Exhaust Manifold for Audi A3||$115|
As you can see, the cost for just an exhaust manifold ranges between $60 to $120+. All other things being equal, exhaust manifolds made from stainless steel are more expensive and more durable.
The downpipe works to connect the exhaust system with your car’s turbocharger so it can direct fumes away from the engine. The downpipe is also home to your car’s catalytic converter. The catalytic converter transforms toxic emissions into less-toxic substances like water vapor and carbon monoxide.
Generally speaking, you can expect to pay anywhere between $200 to $300 to buy and install a new downpipe. Most downpipes are made from stainless steel to avoid corrosion.
Here is a table showing the average cost for downpipes from various manufacturers.
|KIMISS Steel Downpipe||$90|
|ECCP Turbo Exhaust Pipe 1.8T||$90|
|Waltyotur Stainless Steel Downpipe for Honda Civic||$120|
|Industrial Injection HX40DP2 Downpipe||$190|
|TUPARTS J2DP005 Downpipe for Audi A3||$115|
|DNA Motoring OEM Downpipe for Civic||$110|
|PPE 11700500 Performance Downpipe||$140|
Downpipes are generally cheaper than exhaust manifolds, but they are no less important. Keep in mind that you may have to pay extra for downpipe clamps and rings if they are not included with your purchase. These parts are very cheap and usually cost less than $30.
The muffler works to dampen noise from your engine. The steel construction absorbs noise from the engine’s pistons and valves. Mufflers work by redirecting vibrations from the engine so that they destructively interfere. The result is that the sound waves effectively cancel one another out.
A typical muffler costs on average between $50 to $100. Some high-end models cost over $100, but you will most likely pay around $70 for a decent quality muffler. Labor installation costs average between $100 to $200.
Here is a table showing the average costs for various popular models of mufflers.
|DC Sports Bolt-On Exhaust Muffler||$51|
|Evil Energy Universal Outlet Muffler||$55|
|Dynomax Super Turbo 17747 Exhaust Muffler||$60|
|Flowmaster 42433 40 Series Muffler||$85|
|Thrush 242422 Exhaust Muffler||$50|
|Walker Exhaust Quiet-Flow Exhaust Muffler||$90|
Mufflers are, in general, fairly cheap. Mufflers are also widely com[tible, so you won’t have to spend a lot of time looking for a specific model.
OEM vs Aftermarket Parts
When shopping for car parts, you have a choice between original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts and aftermarket parts. OEM parts are made from the original manufacturer for specific makes/models. Aftermarket parts are made by third-party manufacturers who may or may not have the approval of the original manufacturer.
All other things being equal, OEM parts cost anywhere between 30% to 70% more than generic aftermarket parts. The upshot is that OEM parts are usually higher-quality, and you can usually install OEM parts without voiding your car’s warranty.
So, if you still have a warranty on your car, we would recommend looking for OEM parts. Alternatively, if your warranty is already expired, aftermarket parts can fix the problem for less money. However, aftermarket parts may have other issues such as fit and compatibility. Make sure you know whether the aftermarket part you want is compatible with your car.
Factors that Affect the Cost of Installing an Exhaust System
- Make/model. Like most car repairs, the costs depend on the make and model of your car. Some car brands require OEM exhaust systems while others have more compatibility with aftermarket products. Generally speaking, luxury brands are harder to repair than consumer brands.
- Type of exhaust system. There are two major types of exhaust systems: axle-back and cat-back. Axle-back systems are installed behind the wheel’s axle and have a muffle, tailpipe, and tips. Cat-back systems attach to your car’s catalytic converter. Cat-back systems are generally more expensive than axle-back systems.
- Materials. The best exhaust systems are made with aluminum or stainless steel, both of which resist heavy corrosion. Mid-tier exhaust systems are made from cheaper mild steel but are more resistant to corrosion.
Signs of a Broken Exhaust System
The most obvious sign of a broken exhaust system is overly loud engine noises. Sputtering and roaring could mean that your gaskets, muffler, or exhaust manifold are broken and are not absorbing noise.
Smoke From Tailpipe
Another common sign of a broken exhaust system is black smoke coming from your tailpipe. An increase in smoke means that your manifold and muffler are not capturing smoke. A little bit of fumes from your tailpipe is normal but thick smoke is a sign of a problem.
If your exhaust system is broken, gas can escape into your car’s cabin, which has a burning, smokey smell. Hot exhaust gases can also cause plastic components to burn, producing an acrid smell.
Your exhaust pipe may also fall off its mounting and start to scrape against the ground. Even if your pipe falls off the mounting, it might stay connected and your exhaust system may still work. If you are lucky, you may just have to remount the pipe.
Decreased Fuel Efficiency
An exhaust problem means your engine has to work harder to produce the same amount of power. A common sign of a broken exhaust system is decreased fuel efficiency. That means that fixing your exhaust system can save you in the long run in gas costs.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to install an exhaust system?
You can expect to pay about $800 on average to replace a car exhaust system. Most car owners end up paying between $400 to $1,200 to install a new muffler, exhaust manifold, and downpipe. Luxury brands and newer cars are more expensive to repair as they may require OEM parts.
How often do I need to replace my exhaust system?
A typical aftermarket exhaust system should last between two to three years, depending on how frequently you service your car. Your engine performance can affect exhaust system lifespan. The less efficient your engine is, the more work the exhaust system has to do, and the sooner it will need repairs.
Do I need to replace the entire exhaust system?
It depends on the extent of the damage. You may only have to replace a specific part. However, most of the time you will have to replace your entire exhaust system. Exhaust system parts can become warped, so if you take them apart they may not fit back together properly.
How long does it take to install an exhaust system?
Again, it depends on the scope of the damage, but an expert should be able to install a new exhaust system in about 5-7 hours. The greater the damage, the longer it will take.
Are cat-back or axle-back exhaust systems more expensive?
Generally speaking, axle-back exhaust systems cost less to install than cat-back systems. The reason why is that it is easier to install axle-back systems and they consist of fewer parts.
Can I replace an exhaust system on my own?
Yes, compared to many other car repairs, replacing an axle-back exhaust system is fairly straightforward. However, we would recommend getting a pro for the job. If you try to replace the parts on your own, you may void any warranty on your car.
Can I drive with a broken exhaust system?
Yes, your car will still function, but a broken exhaust system will emit toxic fumes that can be harmful to you and others. Most states have laws against driving with a broken exhaust system too.
- Cost to straight pipe a car
- Flowmaster Exhaust System Cost
- Cat-Back Exhaust Cost
- Cracked Exhaust Manifold Repair Cost
Exhaust systems are a crucial part of your car and keep your engine in good working condition. Exhaust system installation sits in the middle of the price spectrum compared to other kinds of car repairs, with an average cost of around $800.
You can save more money by choosing aftermarket parts instead of OEM parts. Just make sure to do your research and consult several local mechanics to get the best price.