Corvette exhaust primer: Axle back vs Cat Back exhaust systems
When you’re shopping for a new 1997-2019 Corvette exhaust system, you’ll quickly come up against two similar terms: Axle Back and Cat Back. Even though both types of exhaust systems will give you the throaty rumble (or wide-open roar) you’re looking for on your C5, C6 or C7, there’s often a significant price difference between them. You need to know what these terms denote so you can choose the exhaust system that’ll give you the results you’re looking for without overspending for parts you don’t need.
Axle Back Corvette Exhaust
If big horsepower is secondary to the sound quality you want from your Corvette exhaust system, an axle back exhaust is an ideal solution. Axle back exhaust systems replace the factory mufflers and exhaust tips with specially tuned mufflers to deliver the sound quality you want. Note that there are many types of axle back Corvette exhaust systems and manufacturers, and each delivers a specific tone, exhaust volume and distinctive rumble. It’s important to know how loud you want your Corvette exhaust to be, keeping in mind that a hairy exhaust note can get old fast during steady-state freeway cruising!
Cat Back Corvette Exhaust
If you’re looking at the exhaust system as part of a broader package of horsepower-building modifications for your Corvette, a cat back exhaust is where you want to be. Cat back stands for ‘catalyst back,’ meaning the exhaust system replaces everything your Corvette came with from the catalytic converters to the muffler tips. Generally more expensive than an axle back Corvette exhaust system, a cat back system includes more parts and is engineered to boost exhaust flow in addition to delivering a deep rumble. Consider a cat back Corvette exhaust system to be an axle back setup plus tubing to connect to the catalytic converters, letting more gasses flow more freely.
Other Corvette Exhaust Buying Considerations
Let’s say you’ve decided a cat back Corvette exhaust is the right solution for your C5, C6 or C7. You’re probably thinking ‘what about those catalytic converters and the factory manifolds?’ The next step to big power is a set of headers and/or high-flow catalysts, but it’s critical to look into the emissions regulations in your state before proceeding. Some Corvette exhaust parts are legal only for race vehicles and will cause issues with smog testing.
Vette Lab carries axle back and cat back exhaust systems and products from top brands like Borla, Magnaflow, Kooks and more. They’re designed to help you reach your sound level and horsepower goals while staying in budget. Best of all, our Corvette exhaust systems are all stainless steel and most feature a lifetime warranty. Finally, if you’re in the metro Detroit area and need your Corvette exhaust system installed, or want to discuss options, drop us a line! Our full installation shop can help you reach your Corvette horsepower goals.