When you step on that gas pedal and rev your engine, are you treated to a strong throaty roar or merely a tamer purr? If the sounds coming out of your exhaust system too anemic for your liking, you may want to consider straight piping.
Many sports car owners have modified their vehicle with some form of straight pipe exhaust, but this mod not just limited to muscle cars. Truck owners too can have fun modifying their exhaust sounds and tweaking performance. A straight pipe mod wholly changes how your car or truck feels at a surprisingly low upfront price.
Table of Contents
- But how much does straight piping a vehicle cost?
- What is Straight Piping?
- Types of Straight Pipe Kits
- Where to Buy a Straight Pipe Exhaust Kit
- How Much Does It Cost to Get Straight Pipes Installed?
- Factors that Affect the Price of Professional Straight Pipe Installation
- Cost to Install Straight Pipes Yourself
- Other (Unexpected) Straight Pipe Exhaust Costs
- Straight Pipe Exhaust Benefits
- Cons of Straight Piping
- Alternatives to Straight Piping
But how much does straight piping a vehicle cost?
We called twenty-five automotive shops around the country to gather price quotes on various vehicles. Here’s what we found:
The cost of straight piping varies depending on the method and type of straight pipe system you choose, your vehicle, and your method of installation.
On average, the cost to straight pipe a car or truck is between $100 to over $1,500. More expensive options exceeding $2,500 are available in custom kits.
Since installing a straight pipe alters the flow of your engine exhaust, it is not a job to be taken lightly. Whether installing a straight pipe yourself or leaving it to the professionals, it’s best to research the subject first.
Keep reading to learn more about what straight piping does as well as straight pipe kit choices, installation options, factors that impact pricing, and even alternatives to straight piping
What is Straight Piping?
Straight piping is a type of performance modification typically done on sports cars or trucks with dual exhaust systems. Classic cars with V8 engines are prime candidates for straight piping.
A standard stock exhaust system includes a muffler to dampen engine sound and a catalytic converter to filter gases and lower emissions. A side effect of the converter is a decreased exhaust gas air flow rate, and a corresponding decrease in the air intake rate for the engine. The lower intake rate can mean reduced horsepower and vehicle responsiveness.
A full straight pipe system eliminates both the muffler and converter, instead installing a simple piece of pipe to carry exhaust gases from the engine to the tailpipe. This leads to a louder engine sound and modest performance gains.
Some variations of the straight pipe leave the converter but install a larger exhaust pipe downstream and change out or remove the muffler.
On the more expensive side are kits designed for specific car models. These straight pipes come pre-shaped for easy fitment and installation. These types of kits tend to avoid welding since it uses bolts to connect the components of the exhaust.
Types of Straight Pipe Kits
The type of straight pipe exhaust kit you buy is the biggest factor in your overall straight piping project cost. There are several main categories of straight pipe kits, and each has its pros and cons.
The more complicated non-vehicle specific kits are economical but require extra work, expertise, and tools to install. A vehicle specific kit costs more up front but will require less time and experience, not to mention fewer tools.
In addition to the kits, a custom exhaust system can be built on-demand for your vehicle, but you will need the right shop or the personal expertise and equipment to do it yourself.
Universal Straight Pipe Exhaust Kit
The most affordable straight pipe kit is universal. A universal kit consists of multiple steel pipes in varying sizes and curvatures. Your or your mechanic will need to assemble the pipes in a configuration that fits your truck or car. Additionally, these kits will require welding work. To make up for the increased workload, universal kits are significantly cheaper and can be found for less than $200.
An example of a universal kit is the DNA Motoring Universal Kit. This 2.5” straight pipe kit is available in both mild and stainless-steel versions. It includes a wide array of piping in different lengths and bends. While the mild steel version is cheaper upfront, it might not last as long. Stainless steel is a corrosion-resistant material that tends to have a longer life. However, if you live in a relatively dry climate or don’t plan on keeping your car too long, then the mild steel option is a good choice at a lower price point.
Remember that the steel pipes will have to be welded together, so if you are planning to install this kit on your own, you will need access to a welder. Still, with a price under $200, it is a great pick for those on a budget who don’t mind the extra work.
Pre-Formed Straight Pipe Exhaust Kit Cost
Pre-formed or custom-fitted kits designed for specific car models are a simpler but more expensive option. These straight pipes come pre-formed for easy fitting and installation. Since the pre-fitted sections also come pre-welded, you simply need to bolt the system in place with no welding required.
Vehicle owners who are planning a DIY installation may wish to choose a pre- formed kit because although you will pay more upfront for the kit, you do not need to rent a welder or pay labor costs for someone else to do the welding for you.
Many tuning companies will offer custom-made straight pipe kits for most vehicles. While typically more expensive, these kits are a perfect fit for your specific truck model and involve a much easier installation.
A custom-fitted AWE Tuning straight pipe kit ranges in price from $1,800 – $2,400. While finding more affordable options is possible, it is rare to find a pre-shaped kit below $1,000. However, these types of kits also tend to be of higher quality compared to universal kits and are designed to last longer with minimal issues.
Where to Buy a Straight Pipe Exhaust Kit
For a straight pipe system designed specifically for your vehicle, you can start by consulting your local shop. The technicians there should have the necessary equipment and piping to construct a custom system for you. If not, they can point you toward a pre-shaped kit that fits your vehicle.
When shopping for both pre-shaped and universal exhaust kits, you have several routes to choose from including:
General Online Marketplaces
Online shops like Amazon and eBay already carry basically everything you can think of, including straight pipe exhaust equipment. These marketplaces might not have the most options to choose from given that they aren’t dedicated to only cars, but there will still be a healthy selection paired with helpful reviews from other purchasers. Do remember to account for additional shipping costs if your purchase does not qualify for free shipping.
Online Car Accessory Marketplaces
For more specific brands or an even a wider selection, try an online shop like CarID.com which is dedicated to car accessories. Online shops will typically sell pre-formed kits specifically for your vehicle, saving you the trouble of constructing your own. As with other online purchases, make sure to consider shipping costs.
Physical Auto parts Store
Many auto parts stores like Advanced Auto Parts and AutoZone have the required piping to build a straight pipe system. The advantages of shopping at a physical location are how quickly you can get a new piece when you need it, the ability to see the kit prior to purchase, and not having to pay for shipping.
How Much Does It Cost to Get Straight Pipes Installed?
If you are an experienced DIY vehicle owner with access to the necessary tools you could tackle a straight pipe installation on your own, but oftentimes it is easier to have a shop perform the work, especially if you are starting with a universal kit and need welding done or if you want a custom exhaust created.
Much of the variation in straight piping costs comes not from the labor, but from the material costs of the actual exhaust system you choose. Labor costs for professional installation vary somewhat around the country and typically average anywhere from $100 to $200 although some shops may charge as much as $400.
To give you an idea of what to expect for professional straight pipe installation costs, we chose five different vehicle models and called shops all around the country for quotes. We asked what they would charge for materials and labor as well as what the turnaround time for a straight pipe install would be.
Here’s what we found:
Factors that Affect the Price of Professional Straight Pipe Installation
As you can see from the above data, pricing varies based on several factors. The variables that determine how much you will pay for a professional to do your straight pipe install include the:
- Cost of living in your location
- Type of vehicle (complexity of the job)
- Shop’s level of familiarity with straight pipe exhaust work
- Quality of the shop’s work
Find Straight Pipe Cost Near You
The main takeaway from our market pricing research is that you should absolutely call at least 3 different muffler and exhaust shops in your area to get quotes. They will be able to give you a better idea of how the factors we mentioned above will influence the price you pay.
When choosing between potential shops, take a moment to read their reviews. Pick a couple of the most highly rated and qualified locations to contact. Since straight pipe installations will vary greatly depending on your car, there will most likely not be a standardized price.
Keep in mind that some shops might not offer a full straight pipe installation that includes removal of the catalytic converter. If you want your catalytic converter removed, confirm that the shop performs that service. If they don’t, ask who they would recommend do the work.
Cost to Install Straight Pipes Yourself
If you want to save on labor costs, straight piping your truck can be done on your own without contacting a specialized shop for custom work. The DIY route can save you about $100 to $200 in potential labor costs provided you have the necessary skills and the appropriate tools on hand.
Pro Tip: Before you commit to straight piping your own vehicle, take stock of your toolshed and do an honest evaluation of your personal ability to do the job well. Also note that extensive exhaust system modifications alter the vehicle’s air flow and back pressure. Your engine may need to be professionally re-tuned following straight pipe installation.
With the high cost of tool purchases and rentals, plus fixing potential mistakes, and re-tuning, the total cost to do it yourself could quickly become more expensive and frustrating than simply paying for a professional-grade job.
Tools Needed for a DIY Straight Pipe Install
If you are considering or are already committed to completing your own straight pipe install, below is the list of tools you will need for the job:
Car Lift or Jack
First and foremost, you need to have easy access to the underside of your car. Ideally, you would use a car lift. However, since most lifts cost well over $4,000, it is unreasonable for the average vehicle owner to purchase.
A QuickJack is a slightly more affordable alternative but still comes with a relatively high $1,500 price tag.
Given the sticker shock of the alternatives, most DIYers will choose to make do and raise all four corners of the vehicle using either two pairs of 3-ton jack stands for $70 or two pairs of 6-ton jack stands for $100 depending on the weight of the vehicle.
Note that for low-clearance vehicles, it may be difficult to install a straight pipe using jack stands alone.
Secondly, you will need a decently sized ratchet set to handle the large number of bolts found in the exhaust system. Well-equipped sets can be purchased for around $75.
Additional Tools Needed for a Universal Straight Pipe Install
If you are installing a pre-shaped kit, the tools listed above are all that you realistically need. Those going the DIY route with universal straight pipe kits will need some additional tools.
The most important of these additional tools is a welder. Welders start from $150 and go up into the thousands of dollars. If you have no other use for a welder, you can always rent one for about $50 per day.
Angle Grinder or Reciprocating Saw
With a universal kit, you will likely have to cut custom lengths of steel. To accomplish this, you can look at angle grinders or reciprocating saws, either of which will cost $100-$200.
Other (Unexpected) Straight Pipe Exhaust Costs
When installing a straight pipe exhaust, many owners will focus solely on the cost of the materials and labor. Those two variables are certainly important, but you may run into additional costs as well.
Before moving forward with straight piping your truck or car, weigh the potential for hidden costs in the forms of fines, fees, and reconversions back to stock exhaust.
Loud Exhaust Ticket Cost
One of the main attractions of straight piping your car is no doubt the increased engine sounds. While you may be fond of the louder vehicle roar, many jurisdictions have laws in place to punish cars with “excessive” exhaust noise.
A loud exhaust ticket can typically range from $100 all the way up to $500 depending on the state it’s issued in.
Pro Tip: Familiarize yourself with local noise and emissions laws before making any straight pipe mods to your vehicle. For reference, you can check the SEMA Action Network map highlighting the relevant state laws pertaining to your situation.
Unfortunately, while some states have set an objective measurement of what is considered too loud, other states will leave it up to the discretion of the police officer. In these states, the officer is the ultimate judge of whether your exhaust is considered excessively loud and thus deserving of a ticket.
Penalty for Removing Catalytic Converter
Catalytic converters debuted in 1968 and are now mandatory in most areas for all on-road vehicles built after ‘68. A catalytic converter is responsible for converting the harmful byproducts from engine combustion into safer compounds before the exhaust exits your tailpipe.
Full straight piping of a car or truck including the removal of the catalytic converter causes an increase in emissions. While most states treat the penalty for excessive noise relatively softly, penalties tied to the removal of your catalytic converter are often much greater.
Fines for a missing catalytic converter can go up to $10,000 per case.
Since it’s visually impossible to tell if a car has its catalytic converter or not without getting under the vehicle, fines for missing converters are typically levied in states like California and New York that mandate periodic emissions testing.
Cost of Reverting Back to Your Stock Exhaust
Eventually, there will be a time when you are ready to part ways with your car. Unfortunately, it will always be much harder to sell a car that has been significantly modified. Your possible pool of buyers will be limited to just those with the same taste.
If you want to cast a wider net, you will have to revert your exhaust back to its stock version.
Keeping your original exhaust system and components is helpful. If you don’t keep your original exhaust, repurchasing the equipment could become costly.
Thankfully the system won’t have to be new, so you can save some money on a used set, but you will still end up paying anywhere from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars for materials in addition to the labor costs.
If you have your original stock equipment, swapping your straight pipe exhaust back out should cost between $100 and $300 if you have a shop do it, or just your time if you do the job yourself.
Straight Pipe Exhaust Benefits
Most car enthusiasts associate the more powerful sounding roar of the engine as the only real benefit of a straight pipe exhaust. However, there are other reasons you may want to straight pipe.
The main benefits of a straight pipe exhaust are:
- Louder exhaust noise
- Better exhaust tone
- Increased horsepower
- Reduced vehicle weight
- Increased fuel economy
- More fuel options (if catalytic converter is removed)
Of course, the primary reasons many owners decide to straight pipe are louder exhaust noise and better exhaust tone. A straight piped muscle car or truck sounds more aggressive and more powerful than the same vehicle running a stock exhaust system with muffler (note that this pro can also be a con for some people).
In addition, a straight piped exhaust is more free flowing with less back pressure on the engine. This allows the engine to run a little more openly and can easily add 10-20 more horsepower. It’s far from the most drastic mod, but it does provide a little boost, especially if combined with other modifications like performance chips.
Along with the increase in power, shedding the additional weight of mufflers and catalytic converters makes your car lighter. So not only does a straight pipe exhaust increase power, but it can also bring down the overall weight of your car. This should bring you a slight but perhaps noticeable difference in your straight-line acceleration.
In addition, a straight pipe exhaust could see an increase in fuel economy. With a lighter car and less back pressure, the engine can work a little more efficiently. Once again, it won’t be a dramatic increase, but it’s nice to know that along with the boost in performance and sound, your fuel economy won’t even take a hit.
Speaking of fuel, if you do a full straight pipe mod that includes catalytic converter removal, although your vehicle won’t be road legal in most areas, you do get the benefit of being able to run high-performance fuels rather than needing the unleaded option.
Cons of Straight Piping
As excited as you are about jumping into straight piping your rig, take a moment to consider the possible drawbacks of straight piping too.
The main downsides of straight piping are:
- Louder exhaust noise
- Potential for excessive noise tickets
- Increased ambient noise inside vehicle
- Penalties for removing catalytic converter
- Increased emissions
- Could trigger vehicle fault code
As we mentioned earlier, the louder exhaust noise can be either a pro or con. To your neighbors who hear you leaving for work at 6 am, the noise is definitely a con. Those neighbors may just decide to call law enforcement and complain, potentially sticking you with an excessive noise violation ticket.
Remember as well that with straight pipes, the noise inside your vehicle also increases and can exceed 100 decibels. Extended exposure to that level of noise while driving can cause hearing loss.
Removing the catalytic converter means increased emissions as well as a potential ticket for failing to pass smog testing, depending on where you live and drive the vehicle.
Pro Tip: When doing any kind of straight pipe mod, pay attention to the location of inline sensors. If you install straight pipe forward of the final sensor you could trigger a vehicle fault code.
Alternatives to Straight Piping
Straight piping might be the most well-known type of exhaust system mod, but it is certainly not the only option. If you like the idea of a full straight pipe system but need to leave the catalytic converter on or don’t want quite so loud an exhaust sound, there are other alternatives.
Pro Tip: Consider installing a glass pack, otherwise known as a through muffler. You could also choose a cat-back exhaust system or a muffler delete.
A glasspack or through muffler mod involves swapping out your stock muffler for one that is padded with fiberglass. Like a straight pipe, glasspacks also enhance exhaust sound and give a slight 20 horsepower boost due to reduced engine backpressure.
Many car mod enthusiasts find the sound of a glasspack to be more “mature” and “pleasant” compared with straight pipes. Check out this glassback vs straight pipe comparison video to hear the difference for yourself.
An added advantage is that glasspack installation is easy. All you need to do is remove the stock muffler and swap in the glasspack. The catalytic converter is left intact, and you do technically have a muffler, so your vehicle is still road legal in most states. You may still run into excessive noise violation issues however, since a glasspack is louder than a stock muffler.
A cat-back exhaust system is so named because it leaves everything stock from the catalytic converter forward. This system upgrades your vehicle to a more efficient larger diameter mid- pipe, muffler, and tailpipe.
The cat-back exhaust gives similar weight reduction, fuel economy, horsepower, and exhaust tone gains to straight piping, however since the new components of a cat-back system are all installed after the converter, a vehicle with this mod will still pass emissions testing and can legally be driven on-road.
A final alternative to straight piping is a muffler delete. As it sounds, a muffler delete involves removing the muffler. The catalytic converter is still in place, so you won’t fail any emissions tests with a muffler delete, but you may run into noise violations. You will get a minor 5 horsepower gain from this mod.
The exhaust noise from a muffler delete is louder than a glasspack and not quite as loud as a full straight pipe. Check out this muffler delete vs straight pipes comparison video to hear the difference for yourself.
Straight Piping Key Takeaways
Once you’ve done all the research and know what you’re getting into, straight piping your vehicle can be a fun and exciting mod. Straight piping and similar alternatives give you modest performance gains while making a huge difference in the sound of your exhaust system.
When it comes to price, a DIY universal straight pipe install can be completed for as little as $100 (assuming you already have all the tools), while an expertly installed elaborate custom straight pipe system can cost over $2,500.
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