Catback vs Axle Back Exhaust – Which is Best for Sound & Performance?

If you have looked into custom builder exhaust parts, you have probably heard about cat back and axle back exhaust replacements. This can be a confusing distinction, but if you really want to make your vehicle your own, you should understand the difference so you can make the right decision.

Take a look at this simple guide to learn the ins and outs of replacing your exhaust parts.

Catback VS Axleback – What’s the Difference?

The name of these types of exhaust replacements refers to how much of the exhaust system is replaced. So, a cat back exhaust will replace everything from the catalytic converters to the end of the exhaust pipes, or “from the cat and back.”

MAGNAFLOW Cat Back System for Ford Mustang GT

As you can probably guess, axle back exhaust refers to replacing from the axle to the end of the pipes. Doing an axle back replacement is easier because less is being replaced. In many vehicles, it is possible to simply unclamp and remove the exhaust system at the axle, which makes the process as simple as pulling the old parts off and affixing the new parts on.

MAGNAFLOW Axle Back Exhaust system for Ford Mustang GT

In other cars, you may need to cut the pipes, which can complicate things. Generally, axle back replacements are simpler and cheaper, but cat back replacements give more options.

What Does Aftermarket Exhaust Do?

There are
two primary reasons you might change your exhaust system:

  • Modify the exhaust sound
  • Improve vehicle performance.

Neither of these options affects either of these aspects inherently, but the parts you choose to put on affect the performance and sound. Catback exhaust replaces more parts, including the mid pipes and resonators, so you have more opportunity for performance improvement.

The reason this is possible is that generally speaking, most cat back systems rely on wider exhaust tubing which creates a much more efficient path for exhaust gasses to escape.

While cat backs tend to offer better performance, it can be difficult to get noticeable performance enhancements with an axle back replacement as installing a performance muffler only supplies a single point of efficiency. Take the time to research which parts provide the benefits you want before you get started!

Often times, the exhaust you choose will be dictated by your goal. If you are strictly looking for sound enhancements an axle back system might be the right option and there are several options available.

No matter your choice, there a performance exhaust options for all types of cars so don’t worry. Just remember, every car can benefit from an aftermarket exhaust set-up.

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