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Coyote Mustang Exhaust Upgrade Guide

Written By: Connor MC

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Make your Mustang roar like no other. Choose from different mufflers and accessories all the way up to headers and mid pipes for the best sound and high performance.

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Whether you seek to simply unleash the auditory power of 8-cylinders, or perhaps net a few more ponies, customizing the stock exhaust system will provide you with both.

American Muscle

Axle-back Exhaust System Upgrades

The most basic upgrade to your Coyote’s exhaust would be to swap in a new axle-back exhaust system. When we say the term axle-back, we are referring to every piece of the exhaust system aft of the rear axle. In the case of 2011 Mustangs, this just so happens to mean the mufflers, tail pipes and tips. An axle-back swap can up the volume by several notches, or turn your ‘Stang into an outright screaming demon (or anywhere in between), depending on what type of system you pick. Typically, there are two major axle-back types to choose from: muffled and straight-pipe/resonator (unmuffled). 

The first system incorporates mufflers to dampen the sound. This does not mean that an axle-back muffled system sounds puny. They can be very loud depending on how many chambers the muffler has. Stock mufflers have three chambers, helping to mute the sound of the engine for an enjoyable acoustic experience across the board, but many find them too quiet. Many aftermarket companies offer revised triple, dual, or single chamber axle-back kits, making the exhale note louder and louder as the number of chambers goeskits, making the exhale note louder and louder as the number of chambers go down. A well engineered aftermarket single chamber axle-back system can sound downright nasty when you get on the go pedal, but then return to appropriate levels at cruising speeds.

Mustang Axle-Back Chambered Exhaust

If you seek the baddest, loudest option out there, consider going the unmuffled route. As the term implies, umuffled axle-back systems are systems that have removed the traditional muffler. They can be straight–pipes, or have simple in line resonators. Straight-pipes are as loud as it gets, and is most often reserved for track use. Because of their volume and potential drone, they may not be the best for everyday cruising. Resonators, on the other hand, take the edge off of a straight-pipe sound, leading to less drone, but still let anyone within a 2-mile radius know you are coming. 

Any aftermarket performance axle-back exhaust system, be it muffled or straight-through, will be superior to 3 chambers from the Ford factory. Using pipes with an average diameter of 3”, mandrel-bent to form, and utilizing high quality steels (309, 409 etc), aftermarket systems will flow better than stock and offer less resistance. However, don’t get over excited thinking about horsepower numbers. Truthfully, despite aftermarket systems being much less restrictive than OEM, axle-back upgrades are typically done for sound preference, with maybe a gain of 2-3HP to go along with it. All in all, an axle-back system is a great first modification to get your Pony to really growl and keep it smog-friendly.

Mustang Axle-Back Unmuffled Exhaust

Cat-back Exhaust System Upgrades

An aftermarket cat-back exhaust system is the next rung up onf the Coyote exhaust ladder. In this case, all piping and pieces from the catalytic converters back will be replaced. These systems are more expensive than their simple axle-back cousins, but may free up a few more horsepowershorsepower.

In the case of cat-back exhaust systems, essentially we are essentially replacing the mid-pipe from the catalytic converts to the mufflers, the mufflers, and exhaust tips as a single whole new unit. Depending on the system, some cat-backs come with mid-mounted mufflers, or traditional aft mounted mufflers.

A mid-pipe muffler simply means the muffler or resonator, if it is a straight-pipe design, is mounted in the mid-pipe, before the axle (think underneath of the floor). This is not necessarily any better than a regular axle-back mounted muffler in terms of performance, but rather is a method of packaging a certain muffler or resonator – i.e: super sound muffler 20 is only available in a mid-pipe set up, not as regular axle-back mufflers. Speaking of mid-pipes, what about H-pipes or X-pipes?

Mustang Cat-Back Exhaust System

H-pipe or X-pipe

Stock, 5.0 equipped Mustangs come with two catalytic converters leading into an H-pipe before finally hitting the mufflers. Certain catback systems come pre-equipped with a certain mid-pipe (it is already welded on), but for the most part, most kits leave it up to you - you can either choose a new one, or retain the stock unit.

H-pipes are said to produce deeper exhaust sounds akin to conventional muscle cars at lower RPM’s whereas, they tend to lose some authority at higher revs. X-pipes, on the other hand, procure a raspier sound across the range, but not as deep as an H-pipe. Which is the better of the two? Well, this is a hot debate that has been going on for decades, and it definitely will not be decided in this article! It is a preference of sound, really, as any aftermarket H or X pipe will be less restrictive than the stock unit. 

Like axle-backs, cat-back exhaust systems will be of superior construction. Again using large, mandrel-bent, 3” stainless steel pipes, post-catalytic exhaust flow will be improved. Ford bean counters optimized the stock 5.0 Coyote exhaust for ease and cost of production, thereby sacrificing some performance in the process. Thereby, the factory Ford units have many less than optimal kinks, and vary in diameter quite a bit throughout their length.

Mustang H-Pipe

All in All

  • Axle Backs - A great sound changer thats affordable and sweet looking
  • Cat Backs - Performance Oriented systems that maintain factory cats
  • Mid Pipes - X and H pipes, the great debate but both are impressive

With all that being said, an axle-back or cat-back exhaust system is a great first modification to personalize your Mustang. The stock Ford system is by no means terrible. Ford hit a home run with the introduction of the all-new 5.0 Coyote motor in 2011, boasting 412HP and 390 ft-lbs of torque. These engines were made to roar, but as a manufacturer they just have so many variables to address (cost, ease of production, emissions, versatility, performance etc) that it is only natural for some areas to be hindered in order to satisfy the bean counters. Either style aftermarket system will net a few ponies, but the main kickback is found within the new vocals. Your ‘Stang will be screaming! 

Mustang X-Pipe
Fitment includes: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, GT