Used Exhaust Buying Guide

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Used Exhaust Buying Guide

Buying an exhaust system for a car can be a large investment, and it can feel like a complicated process. Fortunately, more and more consumers are finding viable used exhausts in today's marketplace that can save them big money. As for the complications of finding and purchasing a used exhaust, consumers can deal with that by first educating themselves on the details of an exhaust system, including its component parts, how it works, and how to match the right kind of exhaust to a certain car.

With this information in hand, consumers can also widen the scope of their retail options by looking beyond traditional automotive parts vendors and exploring the choices on online retail sites, such as eBay.

Why Does a Car Need an Exhaust?

Modern vehicles are built around one main component, the combustion engine. A combustion engine creates its energy and power by igniting what are essentially miniature explosions inside the cylinders of an engine with the help of a spark plug. These small instances of combustion give the engine the energy it needs to drive various systems in the car, but it also creates one downside for the engine, excess toxic gases. These gases can potentially clog the engine and stall it out, which is why exhaust systems are necessary. An exhaust system connects with the engine right at the cylinder head, funnelling these excess gases out of the engine. The more efficiently an exhaust system is able to do this, the more efficiently a car can run.

Component Parts in a Used Exhaust System

When replacing an exhaust system, it is important that consumers understand all of the component parts that go into an exhaust system and what functions they serve. This can help in the selection of the right type of exhaust for a car and also help a buyer determine whether or not he or she wants to replace an entire exhaust system or take a sectional approach.

Exhaust Manifolds or Headers

The first component exhaust gases encounter in the exhaust chain is the manifold. This component attaches directly to each of the cylinders in an engine using piping. All of this piping carries gases from each cylinder into a single pipe known as a collector.  Exhaust manifolds or headers can be very sturdy devices designed for resilience and space efficiency, or they can be advanced performance headers that optimise the efficiency of an exhaust system from this very first point in the exhaust chain.

Performance headers may use more refined materials that are designed to optimise performance, but they come with a higher price point. Common materials used in headers include nickel-plated steel, 409 stainless steel, and steel with a ceramic coat.

Head Pipes

The head pipe conducts the gases that have passed through the manifold. It is a straight pipe that functions as the connector between the two main sections of an exhaust system. The head pipe is especially significant because it contains a device known as the catalytic converter. A catalytic converter works to scrub the gases clean of some of their most dangerous pollutants, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and hydrocarbons. With the use of coated, ceramic beads within the device, the converter manages to change the oxides and hydrocarbons in the pollutants into less offensive substances, including oxygen and carbon dioxide.


Anyone who has ever heard a car run without a muffler knows how essential these components are to an exhaust system. The muffler suppresses the loud noise produced by the exhaust system by leveraging certain chambers and baffles within the cylinder body of the muffler to cancel soundwaves. In used, factory-standard, OEM mufflers, the focus is usually on just muffling the sound. With used performance mufflers, however, this component can also work to tune the sound of the exhaust, giving a car a distinct sound or growl.

Tail Pipes and Exhaust Tips

The final section of an exhaust system includes the tail pipe and the exhaust tip. The tail pipe is essentially just the final conduit that carries the gases out into the atmosphere. The tail pipe, however, can work in tandem with an exhaust tip. Exhaust tips often have a chrome finish and add to the aesthetics of a vehicle. They can also add yet another small level of efficiency to a system, thanks to the fact that they can be wider than a tail pipe and act as a final pressure release.

Selecting the Right Used Exhaust System

When purchasing a used exhaust system, it is important that consumers accurately match systems to their cars and engine sizes. In cases where consumers just wish to replace existing OEM exhausts, they can search for used exhausts in one of two ways. They can use their owners' manuals to determine the part numbers and types of exhausts in their cars and then search with that information, or they can search using the makes and models of their cars.

For buyers who want performance upgrades, there are used aftermarket exhausts available, as well. Consumers shopping for aftermarket versions can also search for options based on the makes, models, and years of their vehicles since many aftermarket vendors market their components using these details. Consumers must also keep engine sizes in mind. While a V4 engine only needs one manifold, a V6 or a V8 engine has two rows of cylinders in the engine head and needs two manifolds.

Types of Exhaust Systems

The following table outlines the types of exhaust systems or modifications that are available in the used marketplace. This information can help consumers focus their searches for systems and component parts.

Exhaust Type


Dual or Twin Exhaust

Utilises two exhaust channels along the length of the exhaust system

More efficient than single exhaust

Cat-Back Exhaust

Addresses only the components from the catalytic converter to the back

Axle-Back Exhaust

Addresses only the components from the rear axle to the back

Dual Tail Pipes

Can give a car a dual exhaust look without a full dual exhaust system

Dual Output Muffler

Designed to work with a dual tail pipe

When evaluating various used systems, consumers should also focus on the condition of exhausts they are considering. Some small signs of corrosion may be acceptable, but any large-scale corrosion that has puckered the metal in any way is a sign of significant damage. As much as possible, consumers should also communicate with sellers to confirm the history of used exhaust systems, including where and how they were used. Installing an exhaust system independently should only be attempted by consumers with experience and the proper automotive tools.

Buying Used Exhausts on eBay

Once you have your information and are ready to start the purchasing process, you can utilise the online retailer eBay to access a wide array of used exhausts. Even though eBay features countless listings and deals on automotive products, you can narrow in on the right items by running a keyword search in the search bar that is available on every page. Scan all the listings that come up and review the appealing ones in detail.

Getting to Know Sellers on eBay

It can also be helpful to take a moment to familiarise yourself with sellers you are considering. To do this, all you need to do is visit a seller's page by clicking on the seller's name. On the seller's page, look through customer feedback and any past listings a seller has posted.


Replacing an exhaust on a car does not have to be a nightmare from either a logistical or a financial perspective. Whether consumers are in the market for aftermarket performance exhaust systems or OEM exhausts that match their existing systems, there are used options out there that can give them affordable answers to their exhaust needs. Used exhaust systems also offer an environmentally responsible alternative to new exhausts. By reviewing the details of exhaust systems and understanding the different types of systems that are available, including dual exhausts, cat-backs, and axle-backs, consumers can then leverage the wide catalogue on a site such as eBay or head out to local automotive shops to find the replacement exhausts they need to get their vehicles running efficiently.

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