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Benefits of Cat-back Exhaust Systems on a Ford F-150

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Cat-backs are a good starter mod. Easy to install with power and fuel efficiency gains. However, one of the top reasons to swap to a cat-back is giving your truck a new, more powerful tone.

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Looking to increase horsepower, torque, and exhaust sound? A cat-back exhaust system for your F-150 is a common upgrade as it allows your F-150 to perform and sound better without breaking the bank.

American Muscle

What is a Cat-back Exhaust?

  • Increase in horsepower, torque, and MPG
  • Louder, more aggressive tone
  • Stylish appearance
  • Quality Materials

The cat-back exhaust or a catalytic converter-back exhaust system increases horsepower and fuel efficiency of an engine, but there are also many cosmetic benefits such as louder exhaust and a more stylized look.

Traditional exhaust systems are designed to be low key: quiet, unassuming, and restrictive. Considering the EPA focuses predominately on everything leading up to the catalytic convertors (including the cats), changing out the stock cat-back system for an aftermarket setup is a quick way to change the attitude of your truck without sacrificing emissions.

By utilizing a cat-back system, your engine can breathe more freely (adding power) ontop of improving your gas mileage. In terms of MPG, you might not see a gain of 2 or more miles to the gallon, but 1/2 to a full mile per gallon is possible depending on your engine/ignition setup.

Flowmaster 2009-2014 F-150 Cat-back Exhaust System
2009-2014 F-150 Cat-back for 4.6L, 5.0L, and 5.4L V8s

How Does a Cat-Back Work on My F-150?

A cat-back exhaust system usually consists of a rear pipe, resonator, and a muffler. These components work together by increasing the tube diameter size which releases back pressure, allowing the engine to breath easier. The cat-back system frees the restriction of gases, reducing the engine's work load and improving gas mileage. The free flowing gases flow unrestricted and the engine is able to produce more horsepower and torque as it is easier to push the gases through the exhaust.

Keep in mind, some backpressure is necessary for peak performance. But isn't resistance a bad thing, you might ask. To a degree. Exhaust gases move at a particular speed, depending on your engine, and optimally all the exhaust leaves the engine on the exhaust stroke. This isn't always the case. Sometimes the timing of the valves opening will suck some exhaust gases back into the cylinder. Needless to say this isn't a good thing. Too much pressure and the gases can't get out fast enough. Not enough pressure, and the gases will be too slow escaping the piping. Too sumarize, don't go for the biggest diameter piping out of the gate, unless you're planning on modifying your truck's engine as well.

4in Cat-back Pipe for 2015-2016 EcoBoost F-150s
Large 4in Cat-back Pipe for 2015-2016 EcoBoost F-150s

Is an F-150 Cat-Back System Worth It?

A cat-back system is an excellent entry level modification, and rather cost effective considering the benefits. While a muffler only installation is even cheaper, one of the largest advantages of the cat-back compared to a muffler only install is the increase in torque and horsepower. Depending on the muffler, you might be better off installing a cat-back for ease of installation. Some mufflers require cutting your existing pipes to properly fit.

If you’re willing to spend anywhere between a mere $300 or all the way up to $2000 for a completely custom package, you can run with more horsepower, fuel efficiency, torque, and style! A cat-back is also a popular upgrade among F-150 owners becasue it creates a deep, throaty sound in your exhaust.

Universal Flowmaster Muffler
Standard, Blacked-Out Muffler

Other Benefits for Your F-150

A cat-back is typically made of lighter materials which will also contribute to fuel efficiency and maximum acceleration. Along with performance gains, most cat-back systems are made of stainless steel. Stainless steel will put up with more abuse than the factory systems while resisting rust. Cat-backs are essential for more power, fuel efficiency, and extending the life of your truck. Cat-backs are a great way to increase power and fuel efficiency with little investment.

Dual Side Exit Cat-Back for V6 2015-2016 F-150s
Dual Side Exit Cat-back (Before Rear Tire) for V6 2015-2016 F-150s

Which Cat-Back Will Fit My F-150?

The single most important factor in picking the right cat-back is making sure the system is compatible with your engine. You don't want to accidentally end up with a V8 system when you're trying to mod your EcoBoost truck!

The second factor is where you want the exhaust to exit. Different states have different laws regarding how short your exhaust can be, but you'll still have a variety of options. There's the standard rear exit systems, and then there's side exit systems. Side exits are sometimes split exit (one pipe on each side of your truck). Side exits also have the option of dumping the exhaust before your rear tire, or after. Aside from swapping muffler tips on rear exit systems, side exit systems are an effective way to improe the side profile of your F-150.