Are you the proud owner of a Jeep Wrangler JK, but feel that it’s lacking some growl under the hood? Upgrading your stock exhaust system is one of the best ways to unleash more horsepower and torque, while also giving your Jeep a more aggressive exhaust note. But with so many exhaust options for the JK, how do you know which one is the best for your needs?
The Borla and MagnaFlow exhausts stand out as two of the top systems that offer noticeable performance gains and an excellent tone. However, the MBRP and Flowmaster are also great options that mix power and affordability.
This article will explore the benefits of upgrading your Jeep JK exhaust, compare the most popular systems, overview important features to look for, provide tips for choosing the right one, and give guidance on installation. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Why Upgrade the Exhaust on Your Jeep Wrangler JK?
The stock exhaust system on the Jeep Wrangler JK is designed to keep the vehicle quiet and tame. But most JK owners want a more aggressive sound, along with improved horsepower and torque. Here are some of the key benefits of upgrading your exhaust:
- Increased Horsepower and Torque – A less restrictive exhaust allows spent gases to evacuate the system faster. This reduces backpressure and allows the engine to breathe easier, generating more hp and torque. Expect gains of 5-15hp.
- Better Throttle Response – The improved airflow also enhances throttle response. You’ll notice quicker acceleration and crisper performance.
- Deeper, Louder Exhaust Tone – freed up breathing gives the exhaust note more bark and aggression. It transforms the mild stock system to a rugged rumble.
- Improved MPG – Reduced backpressure improves efficiency. Don’t expect huge gains, but 1-3 mpg better economy is common.
- Customized Look – Aftermarket exhausts have more stylish, large-diameter piping and polished tips to enhance the JK’s appearance.
As you can see, a new exhaust offers some great benefits beyond just sound. The additional power can provide a noticeably punchier feel, while the improved efficiency is nice at the pump. And who wouldn’t want their Jeep to sound like a rugged, growling beast?
Top 5 Exhaust Systems for Jeep Wrangler JKs
Now that you’re sold on upgrading your Wrangler’s exhaust, let’s compare some of the most popular systems on the market:
1. Borla Exhaust System
Borla is one of the most trusted names in the performance exhaust world, known for quality fabrication and materials. Their cat-back system for the JK continues that reputation, offering awesome gains in power while also sounding fantastic.
- One of the best for adding horsepower – up to 18hp!
- Aggressive tone turns the mild JK into a loud beast
- Deep, exotic rumble at idle and low RPMs
- All stainless steel construction
- Droney interior resonance on highway
- Most expensive option – around $1,000
- Limited sound adjustment ability
Overall, the Borla is one of the top options for JK owners serious about uncorking power and transforming the exhaust note. Just be prepared for cabin drone.
2. MagnaFlow Exhaust
For those seeking great gains along with a refined tone, MagnaFlow’s cat-back exhaust is a winner. Their “Street Series” balances performance and pleasant interior sound.
- Notable improvements to hp, torque, and mpg
- Aggressive tone without being overbearing
- Reduces drone thanks to their acoustic technology
- Stainless steel and polished tips for corrosion resistance
- Sound is louder but not extreme
- Basic round piping shape
- Not as customizable for adjusting tone
MagnaFlow delivers an excellent blend of increased power, aggressive growl, and livable interior sound. It’s a great option if you don’t want over-the-top loudness.
3. MBRP Exhaust
For JK owners wanting extreme sound and performance at an affordable price, the MBRP exhaust system is a prime choice. Their cat-back offers awesome bang for the buck.
- One of the loudest, most aggressive tones
- Nice gains in horsepower and torque
- Full turbo-back design for maximum flow
- Great price under $500
- Too loud for some drivers
- Droney interior resonance
- Some fitment issues reported
Overall the MBRP system is perfect for the JK owner wanting a screaming loud exhaust on a budget. Just be prepared for some cabin drone.
4. Flowmaster Exhaust
Flowmaster is synonymous with the American muscle car sound, making them another trusted choice for JKs. Their cat-back strikes a nice balance of sound and performance.
- Aggressive muscular exhaust note
- Easy bolt-on installation
- Generates noticeable power gains
- Moderate price under $800
- Prone to highway drone
- Sound might be too mild for some
- Stainless steel upgrade costs extra
For those looking to give their JK a throaty muscle car rumble, Flowmaster delivers a great balance of aggressive tone, added oomph, and cost.
5. Banks Power Exhaust
For mild-mannered JK owners wanting a refined performance upgrade, Banks Power’s exhaust system maintains civility while still improving power.
- Adds noticeable horsepower and torque
- Retains quiet, refined tone
- Reduces interior resonance
- 50-state legal emissions
- Very expensive, over $1,200
- Sound improvement is minimal
- Cat-back only, no turbo-back
Banks Power will appeal to owners who want an OEM+ upgrade without a loud exhaust. Just be prepared to pay a premium price for the quality and tech.
Important Features to Look for in a Wrangler JK Exhaust
Beyond brand name, there are some key features to evaluate when shopping for your Wrangler’s new exhaust system:
- Materials – Look for stainless steel or aluminized steel construction to resist corrosion. Avoid cheaper steel versions prone to rust.
- Diameter – Larger diameter piping between 2.5″-3″ improves airflow. But ensure proper fitment for your engine, transmission, etc.
- Design – Cat-back systems replace from the catalytic converter back. More expensive turbo-back systems also include new headers for maximum flow.
- Sound Level – Consider how loud or mild you want the exhaust tone to determine which brand fits best.
- Sound Quality – Test sound clips to hear the exact tone of each exhaust option – deep and rumble vs high-pitched.
- Drone – Research interior resonance at highway speeds. Some are worse than others.
- Performance Gains – Review dyno sheets and estimates to quantify power improvements.
- Price – Basic options start under $500, while premium systems exceed $1,200. Set your budget and expectations accordingly.
- Warranty – Many exhausts come with a 1-3 year warranty. Ensure it covers defects.
Considering these factors will help you select the right JK exhaust system aligned with your budget, needs and preferences.
How to Choose the Best Exhaust System for Your Wrangler?
With so many options to transform your Jeep Wrangler JK’s sound and performance, how do you determine which is the best exhaust system for your needs? Here are some tips:
- Think About Sound – First and foremost, decide how loud or refined you want the tone to be. This will narrow down brands. You can also read sound clips to hear exact notes.
- Research Fitment – Ensure the full system or muffler delete piping properly fits your engine, transmission, transfer case, etc. Improper fitment causes problems.
- Read Reviews – Learn from other JK owners’ first-hand experiences with exhaust tone, cabin drone, power delivery, and ease of installation. Video reviews are also helpful for sound.
- Weigh Costs and Benefits – Pricier premium systems like Borla offer the biggest gains, but also the most drone. Less expensive options from MBRP and MagnaFlow still provide noticeable improvements.
- Compare Warranties – Many come with 1-3 year warranties against defects. But some don’t cover issues like rust. Read the fine print.
- Buy Local or Online – You can often save money ordering systems online. But buying local makes returns and fitment testing easier.
- Consider Professional Install – Paying a shop ensures proper installation. But DIY is simple if you’re handy. Either way, use a lift for easy access.
Taking the time to properly research and compare exhaust systems for your particular Jeep will ensure you wind up with the perfect blend of sound, performance, and value.
Step-by-Step Guide to Install Your New Jeep Wrangler JK Exhaust
Once you’ve selected the ideal exhaust system, it’s time for installation. Here is an overview of the process:
1. Gather Tools and Supplies
You’ll need a lift or jacks for easy access, basic hand tools, penetrant spray, and fresh exhaust clamps and gaskets. Ensure you have all hardware and parts included.
2. Lift and Support Your Jeep
Use a lift or securely jack up the vehicle and support it on sturdy jack stands for safe access. Never work under an unsupported vehicle.
3. Detach Stock Exhaust
First, spray the exhaust joint nuts and clamps with penetrant spray to loosen corrosion. Then unbolt the flange behind the catalytic converter to free the stock system. Removing any muffler hangers as needed.
4. Install New Exhaust
With the old system fully detached, install your new exhaust system from the catalytic converter back, or from headers back for a turbo-back design. Securely hand tighten all clamps initially.
5. Recheck Fit and Tighten Clamps
Carefully inspect the full exhaust for proper clearance and fit. Make any small adjustments needed before tightening all clamps to the final spec with a torque wrench.
6. Test Drive and Re-Tighten
Lower your Jeep and take it for a test drive, listening for any exhaust leaks or odd sounds. Then re-tighten all clamps after the system settles into place. Enjoy the new sound and power!
As you can see, installing most aftermarket systems is very straightforward when using the proper tools and taking all safety measures. Follow the included directions closely. And don’t forget to share sound clips of your JK’s ferocious new roar!
Unleash Your Jeep Wrangler JK’s Performance with a New Exhaust
Upgrading to an aftermarket exhaust system is one of the best ways to extract more horsepower and torque from your Jeep JK’s engine, while also giving it an aggressive, throaty sound. Brands like Borla, MagnaFlow, Flowmaster, Banks Power, and MBRP offer great options to choose from.
Just be sure to factor in your budget, sound preferences, and performance goals when deciding which system is right for your Wrangler. Proper fitment and installation are also key for maximizing benefits while avoiding issues. But with a small investment of time and money, you can give your Jeep a completely customized exhaust note and power gains that make every drive more enjoyable. Hit the trails and let your JK’s newfound roar lead the pack!