7 Best Exhaust System For Jeep Wrangler JK in 2021 [Top Picks & Complete Guide]
Jeep has been always a preferable choice for sports and adventure enthusiasts due to its sturdy performance and thrill. One of the most renowned models in Jeep for adventure lovers is Wrangler, introduced in 1987. To make the performance and riding experience better, Jeep Wrangler has upgraded into multiple generations, out of which JK (2007-2018) is the most demanding and popular one. Whether you want to ride Jeep Wrangler JK in mountains or in town, you need the best exhaust system for smooth performance and a noise-free ride experience.
There are various kinds of aftermarket exhaust systems are available for Jeep Wrangler JK, made from high-quality stainless steel to other materials. But to find the best exhaust system for Jeep Wrangler JK, you first need to know everything about the exhaust system and their types available in the market to make the right decision. To help you out with all these details, we have curated a detailed buying guide for you in this article. So let’s see why your jeep wrangler JK needs an aftermarket exhaust system for better performance and which one will be the best for you.
7 Best Exhaust System For Jeep Wrangler JK in 2021
Significance of Aftermarket exhaust system over stock exhaust system for Jeep Wrangler JK
Before moving to the types and brands of aftermarket exhaust systems available in the market, it is crucial to understand their significance over the stock exhaust system. So let’s see what difference an aftermarket exhaust system can make to your Jeep Wrangler JK:
The exhaust system is the critical part of any vehicle as it expels harmful exhaust gases out from the engine system to let your Jeep Wrangler JK’s engine breathe better. But it is noticeable that the stock exhaust system of Jeep Wrangler JK comes with certain limitations in terms of noise reduction or better performance which all car enthusiasts want to have an enhanced riding experience.
The aftermarket exhaust systems come with high-quality components of exhaust systems for better performance which you might not be able to achieve with the stock exhaust system. So in short, the aftermarket exhaust system for Jeep Wrangler JK can provide you following things over the stock exhaust system:
- Quieter Operation with better noise reduction
- Better Growling Sound of the Vehicle
- Improved Engine Performance
- Increased Torque and Horsepower
- Enhanced Fuel Economy & Gas Mileage
Replacing the stock exhaust system with an aftermarket stock system for Jeep Wrangler JK can make a huge difference in the performance and efficiency of its engine. But since there are so many types from single to dual exhaust systems available in the market, we have to first understand how they differ from each other and which one would be the right choice as per your requirements.
Cat-back exhaust system vs axle-back exhaust system: Which one is the best exhaust system for Jeep Wrangler JK
Before getting into the best exhaust systems for Jeep Wrangler JK, it is crucial to understand the two predominant exhaust system types available in the market named Cat back Exhaust System and Axle-Back exhaust system. Whenever you will search online for the best exhaust systems for your vehicle’s model or type, you will find suggestions either in the cat-back exhaust system or in the axle-back exhaust system, which makes it important to understand the basic difference between them to get the right one for your vehicle.
To understand Cat back exhaust system vs the axle back exhaust system, you first have to understand the components of the exhaust system. There are five major components available in a vehicle’s exhaust system, responsible to expel the harmful exhaust gases out of the engine’s system:
- Exhaust Headers or Manifold: Collects gases released by the fuel combustion process from the engine’s header via multiple pipes.
- Catalytic Converter: Converts the harmful exhaust gases into inert gases through chemical reactions.
- Muffler/Silencer: Helps in reflecting and reducing the sound waves produced by the engine to give you a better growly sound every time engine starts.
- Tailpipe: Responsible for the exit of the harmful exhaust gases out of the engine system smoothly and quickly.
- Exhaust Tips: Provides accurate pressure and efforts required to expel the harmful gases out via the tailpipe as quickly as possible to improve the engine’s performance.
The factory exhaust system comes with all these five components to ensure the proper working of the system. But when you decide to replace/upgrade it with an aftermarket exhaust system to improve the engine’s performance or the sound quality of the engine, you don’t have to replace every component of it. Depending upon your requirements, you can replace only the necessary components of it, based on which Cat-back exhaust system and axle back exhaust system has been derived.
Difference Between Axle-Back and Cat-Back Exhaust System
As the name indicates Axle-Back exhaust system consists of components after the rear axle of the vehicle, i.e: Muffler, Tailpipe, and Exhaust Tips. While the Cat-back exhaust system consists of components responsible for the gas flow after processing from the converter, i.e: Mid-Pipe, Muffler, tailpipe, and tips.
The Cat-back exhaust system is primarily responsible for improving or enhancing the engine’s performance, torque and horsepower mainly. So it is an ideal option for those who want to enhance the performance of their Jeep Wrangler JK. But if you want to improve the sound quality of your Jeep Wrangler JK, the axle-back system is the better option as it is basically a muffler upgrade with a better quality exhaust tip.
As compared to the Cat-back system, axle-back is less complicated and easy to install (due to fewer components), while the installation of the former one can be really challenging and complicated sometimes.
Axle-Back Exhaust System is less expensive and an affordable solution as compared to the Cat-back system that comes at a slightly expensive price (but gives both- better sound note/aggressive sound and enhanced exhaust flow). So depending upon your requirements, you can choose the right type for your Jeep Wrangler JK.
One of the best Jeep Wrangler JK axle-exhaust systems is Magnaflow 15160 Dual-Split Rear Exit Exhaust System . Magnaflow 15160 performance exhaust system is designed to enhance both the sound and performance of your vehicle’s engine system with fast-flowing mandrel bents tubes and a straight-through muffler.
One of the best Jeep Wrangler JK cat-back exhaust systems available & recommended by many online is afe power 49. aFe 49-46231 MACH Force XP exhaust system is constructed with 409 stainless steel tubing for the enhanced exhaust flow. Also, the afe 49 exhaust system is famous for its huge 22 i8nch muffler that gives your Jeep the perfect aggressive sound you need to hear every time you start the engine.
High Clearance Systems vs Dual Tip Exhaust Systems
One of the famous exhaust system types available in the market for Jeep is the High Clearance Exhaust System. As the name indicates, this kind of exhaust system provides your vehicle’s stock system with an extra/clear space to prevent damage during off-road trailing or rock crawling. Unlike other exhaust systems, high clearance exhaust systems are placed slightly up to the vehicle’s body to move the muffler forward to provide extra space. This type of exhaust system is ideal and recommended for off-road activities like adventure on mountains or rocky areas, etc.
One of the best high-clearance exhaust systems for Jeep Wrangler JK you may find online is Magnaflow Cat Back Performance Rock Crawler Series . Magnaflow is a reputable brand dealing in exhaust systems, known for its high-quality material and durable performance. This cat back exhaust system rock crawler series is designed with high-quality, corrosion-resistant polished stainless steel material to ensure lighter system weight and durability for the long period. The best thing about this Magnaflow cat back exhaust system is that it provides you with the perfect and loud growly sound you need to hear on tracks with low exhaust flow restriction through its high-quality mandrel-bent tubings.
But if you are looking for an affordable model in axle-back exhaust system type for off-road adventures, aFe 49 is the affordable brand to go for. Especially, its model: aFe (49-08046) Scorpion 2-1/2 Aluminized Hi-Tuck Axle-Back Exhaust System , designed specifically for Jeep Wrangler JK. The hi-tuck design of this exhaust system allows you smooth climbing on tough roads with mandrel-bent aluminized steel construction for long-lasting performance.
Now apart from the High Clearance Exhaust System, there is another type of exhaust system quite popular in the market is Dual Tip Exhaust Systems. While the High Clearance exhaust system for Jeep Wrangler Jk has a single exit tailpipe in it, the dual-tip exhaust system comes with dual tailpipes for better exhaust gas flow and improved performance of the engine.
Dual Tip Exhaust Systems are a great option for those who want a more balanced look and better performance of the exhaust system with a smooth sound. Unlike the high-clearance exhaust systems, dual-tip systems are more performance-type exhaust systems and thus suitable for normal tracks or streets.
One of the best Dual Tip Exhaust Systems for Jeep Wrangler JK available online is Borla 11834 Dual Outlet Axle-Back System . Borla 11834 rear section exhaust system comes with excellent stainless steel and mandrel bent construction, for long-lasting performance and smooth exhaust gas flow.
Every exhaust system type has its pros and cons that need to be considered to buy the best exhaust system for Jeep Wrangler JK. Let’s see the advantages and disadvantages of both High-Clearance and Dual Tip Exhaust Systems to make the right choice.
Pros and Cons of High Clearance Exhaust Systems
Let’s first talk about the advantages and disadvantages of High Clearance Exhaust System to understand whether it is the right one for your vehicle or not:
Pros of High Clearance Exhaust System
Protect the Muffler from External Damage by Moving it Forward
The high clearance exhaust system places the muffler forward so that it can be tucked well in the undercarriage to protect it from the damage caused by rocks, high centering, denting, or punctures.
Enhanced Verticle Range of the Wheel
In the high-clearance exhaust system, the pipe curvature enhances the rear to the axle which in turn increases the overall vertical range of the wheel on the trail.
Protect the Pipes from damage or torn off
Not only the muffler but the pipes also get projected high and well fitted under the body of the vehicle in case of the high clearance exhaust system that prevents them from external damage or being torn off.
Provides complete protection to the Bumper
The high clearance exhaust system raises the tailpipe above the rear bumper instead of projecting it below which protects the tailpipe from any shock or damage, resulting in the enhanced protection to the bumper of the Jeep.
Reduces Exhaust System Weight
Apart from enhancing the protecting part, the high clearance exhaust systems are light in weight and thus reduces the overall weight of the exhaust system to make your vehicle/jeep more agile.
Cons of High Clearance Exhaust System
You will have to go for an aftermarket bumper
Although the high clearance exhaust lifted the tailpipe above and close to the rear bumper, it results in a lot of heat transfer to the bumper system which cannot withstand the stock bumper as it is made from low-quality plastic usually. In such cases, you need a high-quality aftermarket bumper that can withstand high heat and temperature to remain intact and performs excellent with the high-clearance exhaust system.
Low Engine Performance and Exhaust Gas Flow as compared to Dual Tip Exhaust System
Indeed the high clearance exhaust provides better exhaust gas flow and engine performance than the stock ones but if you will compare it with the dual-tip exhaust, the latter has the better advantage due to its design and construction.
Less Intense Sound than Dual Tip Exhaust System
As the exhaust flow is somewhat less with the high clearance exhaust as compared to that of the Dual tip exhaust system, you can experience a full-bodied but less intense sound with the former one as compared to the latter one.
Pros and Cons of Dual Tip Exhaust System
Just like the high-clearance exhaust system, dual-tip ones have their own advantages and disadvantages that need to consider before buying the best exhaust system for Jeep Wrangler JK.
Pros of Dual Tip Exhaust System
Loud and Growly Exhaust Sound for those who love it
Dual Tip Exhaust System provides your Jeep Wrangler JK with a perfect and loud aggressive sound that you won’t be able to achieve with the stock ones. The voice is extremely loud (especially on highways) to feel the thrill and stand out in the crowd.
Better Exhaust Gas Flow and Engine Performance
Dual Tip exhaust system has dual tailpipes and better construction than the high clearance exhaust system, resulting in better exhaust gas flow and engine performance overall as compared to the latter one. The dual exit and the high-flow muffler ensure the better flow of exhaust gases out of the engine system to enhance its performance up to some extent.
Improves Mileage of Jeep by Enhancing Fuel Economy
As the design and construction of a dual-tip exhaust system allow better exhaust gas flow and engine performance, it also improves the torque and horsepower of the vehicle to improve the overall fuel economy and provides better mileage in the same fuel than what you get with the stock ones.
Cons of Dual Tip Exhaust System
Poor Clearance than High Clearance Exhaust System
Despite providing better engine performance and exhaust flow, the dual-tip exhaust system doesn’t mountain the muffler and tailpipes as forward and high as the high clearance exhaust ones, which means it is more susceptible to get damaged by rocks or off-road terrains.
The muffler is more susceptible to external damage
In some dual-tip exhaust system models, the muffler is at the rear, making it more prone to external damage and punctures.
The dual tailpipe exit adds some extra weight to the dual-tip exhaust system as compared to the high-clearance exhaust system and thus they are as equally heavy as the factory exhaust system.
Significance of Exhaust Spacers for Jeep Wrangler JK
Exhaust Spacers is not an essential component of the Exhaust System for Jeep Wrangler JK but indeed a significant one that can prevent your expensive driveshaft boot from heat and external damage. If you don’t know about exhaust spacers, you can understand it as explained below:
An exhaust Spacer is required when you lift your Jeep Wrangler JK for more than 2.5″ or 3″. When you lift the Jeep Wrangler JK, the modified suspension affects the geometry among the drivetrain and the exhaust, resulting in close contact of hot Y-Pipe with driveshaft boot. The high heat and temperature of this hot Y-Pipe can melt the driveshaft boot resulting in permanent damage or failure. Since the driveshaft boot of Jeep Wrangler JK is quite expensive, its replacement can cost you some serious bucks.
But by using an exhaust spacer between the exhaust headers’ rear end and the crossover pipe’s front end, you can shift the crossover pipe a little back. This way, the pipe won’t come in contact with the driveshaft boot and keep it safe from heat/external damage. It is an affordable solution that protects your expensive driveshaft boot and saves your money that otherwise goes into its replacement or repairing.
One of the best Jeep Wrangler JK exhaust spacers available online at an affordable price is Teraflex 2610000 Exhaust Spacer . This exhaust spacer is suitable for all 2012 and later models of Jeep Wrangler comes with bolt-on installation to protect your driveshaft boot from damage.
Factors to consider while buying the best exhaust system for Jeep Wrangler JK: Ultimate Buying Guide
While buying the best exhaust system for Jeep Wrangler JK, factors like Brand, Price, Warranty, etc. we always take care of, but apart from that, there are some other crucial factors as well that you must keep in mind to choose the right one for your vehicle’s enhanced performance. These crucial factors are:
1. Exhaust Type
There is various Jeep Wrangler exhaust system available in the market depending upon your requirements. As we mentioned above, there are four types of exhaust systems available in the market: Axle-back system, Cat back system, Dual Tip System, and the High Clearance system. Depending upon your purpose (whether you want enhanced performance, or improved exhaust flow, or only better sound), you can decide which exhaust type will be the right choice for you and invest smartly.
2. Heat Resistance
Several chemical reactions take place in the catalytic converter and other parts of the exhaust system that may lead to thermal degradation and corrosion (both internal and external). To protect the exhaust system from this thermal degradation and rust, you must choose the one that comes with heat resistance properties. To give your aftermarket exhaust system better durability, manufacturers use ceramic-coated high polished stainless steel or aluminized material in the components.
3. Sound Quality
Most people upgrade their stock exhaust system with aftermarket ones for better sound quality and thus is crucial to determine the kind of sound quality you want for both interior and exterior. If you want an aggressive sound for the exterior and a moderate sound for the interior, make sure the exhaust system you are opting for must be able to meet your local noise regulations. Once you have decided what kind of sound level you want for your Jeep JK, you can choose the right system with the sound quality you want.
For moderate to aggressive sound quality, you can go for recommended Flowmaster 817674 American Thunder Rear-Exit Cat-Back System . Designed for maximum performance and loud sound quality, the Flowmaster 817674 American Thunder Cat-back system features a 409S stainless steel mandrel-bent tailpipe with a 3.0″ polished stainless steel tip for the enhanced exhaust flow.
4. Exit Style
For Different Jeep Models, different exit styles are available in the market depending upon the make, year, and style of your Jeep. According to your requirements and preferences, you can choose either one of them:
- Dual Split Rear Exit
- Single Straight Driver Side Rear Exit
- Turndown in front of Rear Tire
5. Exhaust Tip Finish
Just like exit style, the exhaust tips are also come in various materials depending upon your Jeep’s model, style, make, and requirements. It is crucial to choose the right exhaust tip finish for your Jeep JK as it ensures the right pressure and flow of exhaust gases out of the tailpipe. Here are three common types of Exhaust Tip Finish available in the market for various purposes:
- Polished Stainless Steel Tip: This type of exhaust tip finish comes at an affordable price and is usually suitable for street or competition series. Though it provides protection against external damage, the extent is somewhat less than the ceramic coated ones.
- Satin Finish Exhaust Tip: If you want a less glossy finish exhaust tip for your Jeep JK, then Satin Finish is a good option. It is suitable for the Off-Road and Rock Crawler Series.
- Black Ceramic Coated Exhaust Tip: One of the most famous exhaust tip styles that adds excellent protection against heat, dirt, impurities, and external damage. It is most commonly used for street and competition series to add excellent durability.
6. Easy Installation
Not every exhaust system comes with an easy installation guide and kit, and thus requires extra effort for the complicated process. To save your time and effort & eliminate the dependency on a professional, try to go for the one that comes with a bolt-on easy installation kit and guide so you can replace or upgrade your factory system anytime, anywhere by yourself.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) Does Stainless Steel Exhaust provides better performance?
Yes, if you are opting for the one having high-quality stainless steel, it will indeed enhance both the performance and the durability of the system. This is because the high-quality stainless steel comes with the ability to reduce damage caused by external heat, dirt, impurities, corrosion, and internal chemical reactions to increase the lifespan of the exhaust system. Also, high-quality stainless steel construction lets the exhaust system cools down quickly to prevent thermal degradation.
2) Does the aftermarket exhaust system improves the horsepower of the vehicle?
Yes, if you are choosing the right aftermarket exhaust, it will enhance the horsepower and torque of the vehicle depending upon your vehicle type, model, and other specifications. There are various quality exhaust types available in the market that can improve the horsepower 50 at the maximum and 2 at the lowest depending upon its type, usage, and other factors.
3) How often do you need to replace the exhaust system for better performance?
There is no particular time period allotted for the replacement of the exhaust system of your vehicle as it depends on your usage, vehicle type, road conditions, and many other factors. But if you are going for the high-quality ones, they can last longer for 8-10 years with proper care and maintenance, and after that, you can replace them to keep the smooth performance of your vehicle intact.
Choosing the best exhaust system for Jeep Wrangler JK can be quite challenging if you don’t know what you need to look for. But with our detailed buying guide, we hope that you will be able to choose the right type at an affordable price. Don’t forget to check the brand’s reviews, ratings, lifetime warranty, and material quality to get the best deal. If you have any other queries related to this topic, ask us freely in the comment section. Buy smartly!