Your pickup truck is a little bit of you that just happens to sit in the driveway. You may want to customize your truck, to make it truly yours. To make it a little quicker, to sound a little better, and to be just that right amount of extra special. A great way to turn your Ford F-150 into your F-150 is with an exhaust upgrade. Release extra sound, from mild to wild, add more appealing exhaust tips, or just move the outlet from the bumper to somewhere a little bit more sporty.
Like many aftermarket performance components, shopping for a Ford F-150 exhaust isn’t as straightforward as say, replacing your windshield wipers. Exhaust systems come in all shapes and sizes, while different muffler designs can heavily impact the way they sound. For many F-150 owners, choosing the best exhaust comes down to personal preference on the tone and appearance of the exhaust. Still, you’ll still want a quality product that fits well and is constructed from high quality materials that will last years, without having to worry about rust or cracks.
Below, you’ll find our top picks of the best Ford F-150 exhaust systems to help you narrow down your choices so you can pick out the best one for your truck.
Table of contents
- 1. Editor's Pick: Roush F-150 Cat-Back Exhaust (421711)
- 2. Flowmaster Outlaw Series Exhaust (817696)
- 3. BORLA Touring Cat-Back Exhaust (140614)
- 4. K&N Cat-Back Exhaust (67-2523)
- 5. MagnaFlow Street Series Cat-Back Exhaust (15366)
- 6. aFe Power ATLAS Performance Exhaust (49-03069-B)
- 7. MBRP Cat-Back Exhaust Exhaust System (S5261304)
- 8. Ford Genuine Muffler (7C3Z-5230-D)
- 9. Dorman Exhaust Manifold (674-694)
- 10. Labwork Shorty Headers
- How to Choose An Exhaust For Your F-150
- Axle Back vs Cat Back?
1. Editor's Pick: Roush F-150 Cat-Back Exhaust (421711)
Roush is a company that’s been making Ford performance parts for decades. Company founder Jack Rousch started his career developing engines for Ford before starting a massively successful race team in 1970 then forming RPE in 1976. It’s a unique factory relationship and experience that comes across in their parts like this cat-back exhaust system for 2011-2014 F-150 trucks.
This recommendation will fit all 6.2-, 5.0-, and even 3.5-liter V6 trucks from that era, including all bed and cab configurations. It includes a muffler, outlet pipe, and the Y-pipe that joins the two sides of the vee, and is made from 409 stainless steel to give the system a long and corrosion-free life. This exhaust gets rid of the factory resonator for a more aggressive sound, and it exits the truck from the side, in front of the rear wheels, giving it a much sportier look than the factory pipes. It’s also mandrel bent instead of crush-bent for better flow.
2. Flowmaster Outlaw Series Exhaust (817696)
Flowmaster’s key focus is on exhaust systems. Just look at its name and it tells you everything you need to know. The company offers several lines of exhaust systems from mild to wild, matching the sound with the buyer for each one. This is the Outlaw system, the company’s loudest, and it’s for 2004-2008 Ford F-150 trucks. Flowmaster says “for the person looking for maximum sound levels both inside and outside of the truck,” meaning that it might not exactly be neighbor friendly.
Still, it offers three-inch dual pipes for maximum flow combined with four-inch black ceramic coated tips that give the exhaust a look that’s as mean as it sounds. The system uses a Super 10 series muffler, and it attaches to the factory hangar locations to help make the installation quick and easy enough for you to do it from home. One more feature unique to this system, it can be set up to have the dual pipes coming out from the rear of the truck as well as from the sides, depending on what you want.
3. BORLA Touring Cat-Back Exhaust (140614)
Borla Exhaust makes a wide range of exhausts, and for this list of F-150 exhausts, we’ve picked the most silent of its series. It’s called Touring, and it’s designed to unleash more exhaust flow and help add performance to your truck, along with a more exciting exhaust sound. It’s also designed to be friendly to those around you, giving you a sound that’s not stock but is also not going to have you searching for earplugs on the highway.
Borla uses T-304 stainless steel for the whole exhaust system, not just the tips like some other brands do, which it says is superior to T-400 series steels. To back that up, Borla offers a million-mile warranty. This system will fit all cab and box sizes, but crew cab long beds will need an extra adapter to bridge the gap. Piping diameter measures 2.25-inch, exiting through four-inch tips that help keep everything gently restrained, like a club bouncer in a tailored suit.
4. K&N Cat-Back Exhaust (67-2523)
You probably know K&N from its reusable performance air filters, but the company that makes products for the air that goes in also makes products for the air that goes out. Its exhaust system guarantees more performance from your F-150, and the kit shows a dynamometer chart that measures a 9.7 horsepower increase over stock on a 2018 F-150 5.0-liter V8 along with a 20 pound-feet increase in torque on a truck with 14,000 miles, with more power and torque at every spot on the dyno’s chart.
The system installs to factory hangars in under 30 minutes, the company says, using only hand tools. It is made from 304 stainless steel for longevity and durability, with mandrel-bent tubing to ensure optimal airflow. It will give you more V8 rumble from your pickup along with that extra power and torque that you can use no matter what your task, from hauling feed on the ranch to a trailer in the mountains to a run to the grocery store.
5. MagnaFlow Street Series Cat-Back Exhaust (15366)
Three-inch tubing from front to back makes this exhaust from Magnaflow a great choice for your 6.2-liter Ford Raptor exhaust needs. That means more flow as well as more performance, and Magnaflow says it will deliver an aggressive performance sound outside of your truck while giving you just a moderate increase in sound inside the cab. That makes it sound cooler when you’re on the trail jumping dunes, but a lot nicer to live with when you’re driving on the highway to and from the trail.
The Street Series exhaust boasts a large stainless-finish Magnaflow muffler, but has black-coated pipes from the end of the muffler all the way back to the tips, for a stealth-cool appearance even when you’re under the truck. It’s a ceramic coating so you should keep that same look for years of use, on-road as well as off. Magnaflow tests its volume levels using SAE J1169, so your louder exhaust should still be in compliance with the law.
6. aFe Power ATLAS Performance Exhaust (49-03069-B)
aFe’s ATLAS series exhaust boasts a four-inch diameter through the piping with an even larger exhaust tip. That large pipe, along with smooth mandrel bends, means maximum flow for your engine, even if you have aftermarket performance modifications like more boost from your factory turbochargers or an aftermarket system that helps move even more air. It uses factory hangars for an original-equipment fit and has a 21-inch muffler to help it reduce high-pitched tones and give it a more powerful sound.
The tip has a wrinkle-look powder coat finish with a laser-cut aFe Power badge to make sure everyone around you knows that it isn’t stock. This system is designed for trucks with the 2.7-and 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engines, a popular engine in the trucks that doesn’t have as much aftermarket support, making this system a treat for those owners. Aluminized steel instead of stainless means more durability than standard steel pipes, but won’t last as long as a full stainless system. The company does have a wide lineup of exhausts for the F-150, so feel free to browse if you have a different engine under the hood.
7. MBRP Cat-Back Exhaust Exhaust System (S5261304)
MBRP isn’t a household name in exhaust systems, but it does offer a lifetime warranty, and for many truck owners that’s a much bigger deal. The company’s three-inch system is meant to exit just ahead of the rear wheel for a cool 1990s sport-truck-style look with dual stainless tips completing the appearance. The entire exhaust is T-304 stainless, which is how MBRP can offer that long warranty, and it should last the life of your truck.
MBRP says that the exhaust offers an aggressive sound, making your truck stand out from the rest of the pack. And while even though it has a side exit, it is easy to install and requires no welding or other complicated installation steps. Mandrel bends for improved flow, the system is also designed to fit both EcoBoost and V8 engines. Part of its Pro series, this is the highest level of quality MBRP offers, and should look like new for a lifetime after a quick cleanup.
8. Ford Genuine Muffler (7C3Z-5230-D)
Maybe you don’t want a louder (or more powerful) exhaust system, and instead, you want something that’s as quiet as the one that your Ford F-150 had when it left the factory? For you, it’s hard to find a better solution than the part Ford installed on your truck when it was new, and, fortunately, Ford will sell you that factory part. A factory part means a guaranteed fit, and it comes with a Ford warranty.
That Ford warranty means easy-to-find service at any of the thousands of Ford dealers nationwide instead of struggling to find a company that can service or repair your aftermarket system. It’s not that glamorous, it’s not that fancy, but it’s what Ford spent millions to develop and even more to build, then installed on millions of new trucks that are the most popular pickup in the world. A great solution if you’re driving a used or older truck and aren’t happy with the previous owner’s choices.
9. Dorman Exhaust Manifold (674-694)
While still excellent truck engines, some years of the Ford Modular 5.4-liter V8 are known for leaks where the exhaust manifold meets the engine. It can be caused by rusty bolts and studs, as well as several other issues, but it’s quite common that once the leak starts, one of the best ways to fix it is with a new exhaust manifold. This replacement exhaust manifold from Dorman comes from its OE Fix line, meaning it was designed to address the issues with the factory part so you wouldn’t have to deal with them again.
Included with the new exhaust manifold that Dorman says uses upgraded materials over factory, are the necessary manifold gaskets to seal the part to the engine as well as two studs and nuts to replace the two factory hardware pieces that commonly rust and break. Let your muffler do its job and stop the underhood tapping (and the smell of fuel and exhaust) that are coming from your broken Ford 5.4-liter manifold.
10. Labwork Shorty Headers
Solve the mod-motor manifold leaks and add more performance to your F-150 at the same time? Why not? After all, your high-performance exhaust is only as good as the rest of the system. These shorty headers are meant to replace the factory parts on your Ford and come with CNC-machined flanges and welded construction that should be more durable than the cast original parts.
They also add 13 hp and 11 lb-ft of torque, according to the manufacturer. A complete set in one order comes with both exhaust headers, as well as the proper manifold gaskets, fasteners, and hardware you’ll need for installation. Attach these to any of the exhaust system on this list to get an even more noticeable boost in performance and sound, and you might even get a fuel economy bump as well. At least if you’re not trying to hear that new sound at every single stop light or sign on your way.
How to Choose An Exhaust For Your F-150
Photo credit: The Ford Motor Company
Start with the amount of “loudness” you’re looking for. Many of these systems are rated to let you know how loud they are and we’ve given you some tips as well. From factory silent to send the police loud, the choice is yours. Next up, your truck’s engine, cab, and bed size. Modern F-150s offer more engine and cab choices than most other automakers offer vehicles, so you need to make sure the system you pick will work with your vehicle. Fortunately, many of these exhaust systems offer an optional piece as part of the system that allows one kit in one box to fit multiple pickups, making things a bit easier for you.
Last-up, especially if you live somewhere that sees winter, is the material and warranty. Aluminized steel might be fine in warm states, but will quickly rust in the salt belt. Or spend a bit more for 304 stainless, and the exhaust system should look like new for as long as you own your truck. Some of these exhaust systems offer a warranty to make sure that they do.
Axle Back vs Cat Back?
Most exhaust systems start behind the catalytic converter (or converters) because replacing that emissions part is expensive and the exhaust builder would need to have the system certified to meet emissions standards. For that reason, the two prominent systems are cat-back and axle-back. Cat-back systems start from the outlet of the catalytic converter, or at least the closest flange, and replace every part in the exhaust that’s located downflow from there. This is a more expensive option but offers more places for the company making it to improve exhaust flow.
An axle-back system usually starts behind the rear axle, skipping the complicated bends that take the gasses around the axle and are often simply a new muffler and tailpipe. These systems are cheaper because there is less to the kit, but they offer fewer places to improve exhaust flow. If all you care about is being louder for less cash, axle-back might be the choice for you.
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Photo credit: The Ford Motor Company