Best Exhaust System for Chevy Silverado 1500: Reviews & Buying Guide

There are many choices when it comes to the best exhaust system for Chevy Silverado 1500. Buyers are typically presented with three choices. The first and most affordable option is the axle-back. Next on the list is the cat-back exhaust. But if you want to squeeze out every ounce of horsepower from your Chevy rig, a turbo-back or header-back exhaust kit is a great choice.

When it comes to the Silverado, cat-backs are primarily a better option. Since axle-backs are more popular in cars and sedans, most aftermarket exhaust tips for the Chevy Silverado 1500 are cat-backs, and for good reason. The Silverado has a larger engine and would benefit the most from a larger, non-restrictive cat-back system in terms of power and sound.

The 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 is now offered with a new 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-six diesel engine. Past generations of the Silverado were only equipped with gasoline V6 and V8 motors, while newer models also receive a smaller 2.7-liter turbocharged four-banger in base trim. No matter what engine, the Silverado remains a reliable, durable, and capable workhorse.

However, are aftermarket exhausts worth the added cost? Can you expect more horsepower and torque by upgrading to better exhausts? What about sound? How loud will it be? And are aftermarket exhaust kits road legal? We’ll have all the answers here along with our top choices of the best exhaust system for Chevy Silverado 1500.

The Best Exhaust Systems for Chevy Silverado 1500

Rugged Ridge Off-Road Axle-Back Muffler

Rugged Ridge Off-Road Axle-Back Muffler

The Rugged Ridge Off-Road muffler is a universal-fit axle-back exhaust kit that fits most American trucks including the Chevy Silverado 1500. It’s not the most affordable option for an axle-back with prices starting at around $350, but it offers superior build quality and durability.

It has an aluminum and stainless steel construction to resist rust and corrosion. The muffler is finished in a black high-temperature coating. It doesn’t come with an exhaust tip, but the entire system is designed to sit high above the frame to offer better clearance.

Pros

  • Nice build quality
  • Aluminum and stainless steel construction
  • Black high-temp finish for superior rust protection
  • The unique design offers a better ground clearance
  • Louder exhaust sound

Cons

  • It’s pricey
  • Exhaust tip not included

Flowmaster Force II Cat-Back Exhaust

Flowmaster Force II Cat-Back Exhaust

Most Silverado cat-back exhaust kits are priced somewhere in the $900 to $1000 range. But with the Flowmaster Force II, you get a stainless steel cat-back with dual rear/side exit muffler tips for under $800. This kit not only improves exhaust flow, but it provides a louder exhaust bark and noticeable improvements in horsepower, torque, and acceleration.

Flowmaster has many types of cat-backs in its arsenal, but the Force II is the ‘mildest’ of all. This means it has a more aggressive exhaust sound over stock, but not as loud as the American Thunder or Outlaw cat-backs from the same brand. Equipped with larger 2.5-inch stainless steel piping and massive 3.0-inch dual side-exit exhaust tips, this Flowmaster Force II cat-back exhaust will give your rig a sportier and more aggressive demeanor.

Pros

  • Loud exhaust sound without that annoying drone
  • Dual side exit exhaust tips
  • Stainless-steel construction
  • Improves horsepower and torque
  • Easy to install using basic hand tools

Cons

  • Not as loud as other cat-backs

Corsa dB Cat-Back Exhaust System

Corsa dB Cat-Back Exhaust System

The Corsa DB Cat-Back Exhaust is engineered for performance. Featuring larger 3.0-inch stainless steel tubing, a single inlet/outlet performance muffler, and polished stainless steel exhaust tip, Corsa designed this cat-back kit to offer superior flow without the droning sound associated with lesser-endowed cat-back exhausts.

Best of all, this exhaust kit is easy to install and comes with all the necessary installation hardware. It’s a bit pricier than other cat-backs in this list of best Silverado exhausts, but the price is worth the quality, sound, and power increase.

Pros

  • Stainless steel construction
  • Better and faster exhaust flow
  • Faster acceleration
  • Louder exhaust sound
  • 50-state emissions legal
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • Still pricey at around $840

Borla Cat-Back Exhaust System

Borla Cat-Back Exhaust System

This Borla Cat-Back Exhaust System fits nicely under your Chevrolet Silverado 1500. We’ve always admired Borla when it comes to aftermarket exhausts. The company’s been doing this since 1978 and is one of the masters of the craft. But for its expertise, Borla is only charging less than $650 for this cat-back exhaust, and that’s a good thing if you’re looking for an excellent deal on a great aftermarket cat-back exhaust kit.

Featuring a patented straight-through muffler with multi-core technology, this Borla exhaust kit is engineered to unleash the potential of your Silverado. Built using authentic T-304 stainless steel and a bright chrome stainless steel exhaust tip, the Borla Cat-Back exhaust system is one of the best exhaust kits for your Chevy Silverado.

Pros

  • Unparalleled quality
  • Genuine T-304 stainless steel construction
  • Louder exhaust sound
  • More horsepower and torque
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Not much

Banks Power Straight Pipe Kit

Banks Power Straight Pipe Kit - 1

If you’re looking for a lower-priced alternative, the Banks Power Straight Pipe Kit is right up your alley. With prices starting at less than $70, this straight pipe kit is designed to delete the stock muffler to deliver a bolder, louder, and rawer exhaust sound.

The kit includes a larger 4-inch stainless steel exhaust straight pipe and a polished tip. It’s one of the most basic muffler kits for the Silverado, although this setup is only intended for racing and/or off-road applications.

Pros

  • Larger 4-inch straight pipe
  • Stainless steel construction
  • Aggressive exhaust sound
  • Easy to install
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Intended for racing/off-road only

Magnaflow MF Series Performance Cat-Back Exhaust System

MagnaFlow MF Series Performance Cat-Back Exhaust System - 15306

The Magnaflow MF Series is perfectly designed for the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500, particularly models equipped with a 6.2-liter V8 engine. Constructed from mandrel-bent 3.5-inch stainless steel tubing, the kit includes a straight-through muffler and a 3.5-inch side exit exhaust tip.

The result is faster acceleration, a more aggressive exhaust note, and more engine torque. Magnaflow exhaust systems are easy to install and are proudly made in the USA. It’s one of the pricier options for the Silverado, but this cat-back exhaust is engineered for the long haul.

Pros

  • Superior stainless steel construction
  • Massive 3.5-inch exhaust pipes for better flow
  • More horsepower and better acceleration
  • Louder exhaust sound
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • It’s a bit pricey

MBRP Black Coated Cat-Back Exhaust

MBRP Black Coated Cat-Back Exhaust

This MBRP Cat-Back exhaust is unique. Instead of having a polished tip, half of the assembly is finished in a durable high-temp black finish. MBRP exhausts are known for their bolder and more aggressive sound, and this cat-back is no exception. It’s one of the louder cat-backs in this kit, and it costs less than $550.

Featuring 100% aluminized 3-inch exhaust tubing, this kit comes with a brilliant 3-year warranty on parts and a 1-year warranty for the black finish. The kit also comes with welded exhaust hangers for an easier and fuss-free installation with no welding involved.

Pros

  • Cool black finish
  • Aluminized construction
  • Larger 3-inch exhaust pipes to reduce engine backpressure
  • More horsepower and faster acceleration
  • Affordable price
  • Easier to install

Cons

  • Not as loud as other cat-backs

MBRP Aluminized Dual Split Side Cat-Back Exhaust

MBRP Aluminized Dual Split Side Cat-Back Exhaust

If you want to give your Silverado an upgraded look without an incessantly loud exhaust note, take a closer look at this MBRP cat-back kit. Featuring dual side exhaust tips and heavy-duty 100% aluminized tubing, this kit offers a rich and mellow exhaust sound with zero drones at cruising speeds. And yet, it offers better exhaust flow than stock to offer faster acceleration and more power when you need it most.

This is a complete kit including the necessary clamps and hardware. The entire system is a direct fit to the OEM hangers in your Silverado and requires no cutting or welding. With prices starting at less than $480, this MBRP cat-back is a solid choice.

Pros

  • Upgraded styling
  • Dual side exit exhaust tips
  • Heavy-duty aluminized construction
  • Louder exhaust note
  • Affordable price
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • Mellow sound

Flowmaster Super 40

Flowmaster Super 40

The heart and soul of this Flowmaster cat-back exhaust is the Super 40 muffler. Featuring a non-restrictive design, it opens up the exhaust flow to deliver more horsepower and an exhilarating exhaust sound! Best of all, this cat-back system starts at less than $280 considering you get twin tailpipes for the price.

The Flowmaster Super 40 cat-back kit is constructed from high-quality aluminized 2.5-inch mandrel-bent tubing and polished dual rear exit tailpipes. However, converting your Silverado from a single side exit to a dual rear exit configuration requires the services of a professional installer.

Pros

  • Super 40 muffler offers better performance
  • More horsepower and torque
  • Aluminized steel construction
  • Dual rear exit exhaust tips
  • Powerful exhaust sound

Cons

  • Requires professional installation

Magnaflow Off-Road Pro Series Cat-Back Exhaust

Magnaflow Off-Road Pro Series Cat-Back Exhaust

This Magnaflow Off-Road Pro Series is one of the loudest straight through cat-backs in the market. The very aggressive exhaust sound is courtesy of a single Magnaflow performance muffler. It significantly reduces backpressure and provides a more forceful exhaust flow. The kit is equipped with massive 3-inch stainless steel piping and a modest turndown rear exit exhaust tip.

With prices starting at around $580, this Magnaflow Off Road Pro Series is 50-state road legal and is easy to install. The entire system is designed to reuse the factory hangers for a true bolt-on installation using simple hand tools. Best of all, this cat-back exhaust kit is accompanied by a limited lifetime warranty.

Pros

  • Loudest exhaust sound
  • Stainless steel construction
  • Improves horsepower and torque
  • Easy to install
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Not much

Types of Exhaust: Which is right for my Chevy Silverado?

There are many reasons why Silverado owners are considering an exhaust upgrade. Before choosing the type of exhaust, you need to determine what you’re looking for. Do you want it loud, or do you prefer the silence of a stock exhaust? Are you looking to increase performance, or are you thinking of upgrading to a dual-pipe setup? And most importantly, how much are you willing to spend?

With those questions in mind, there are three general types of aftermarket exhaust kits, and most of them are ready to install with minor cutting (in some applications) and no welding required.

1. Axle-back exhaust 

The most basic and most affordable exhaust upgrade is the axle-back. The axle-back is essentially a muffler assembly with an exhaust tip/tips and are designed to improve the exhaust flow over a restrictive, stock muffler system. The word ‘axle-back’ means replacing the entire exhaust assembly from the rear axle to the back of the car. It may sound a lot, but in reality, axle-back systems consist of just a larger muffler with exhaust tips.

In terms of sound, axle-back exhausts are a solid upgrade over the stock units, but cat-backs are louder and more aggressive in terms of the exhaust sound. Depending on the manufacturer, axle-backs can add more horsepower and torque along with a louder exhaust sound. Axle-backs are also more affordable and are generally easier to install with fewer parts involved.

2. Cat-back exhaust 

When it comes to the Silverado, cat-backs are primarily a better option. Since axle-backs are more popular in cars and sedans, most aftermarket exhaust tips for the Chevy Silverado 1500 are cat-backs, and for good reason. The Silverado has a larger engine and would benefit the most from a larger, non-restrictive cat-back system in terms of power and sound.

And yes, cat-backs are more expensive than axle-backs, but you get more of everything. More components, more power, more sound, and better styling. Cat-backs can come in a single or double tailpipe configuration, but the principle remains the same. Since cat-backs are installed after the catalytic converter, it improves the exhaust flow much better through the use of larger diameter tubing. And with more flow comes more power and a louder exhaust sound.

3. Turbo-back or header-back exhaust

In most cases, turbo-back or header-back exhaust kits are meant for racing and/or off-road applications and are illegal for road use. Nevertheless, turbo-backs provide the best bang for the buck if you’re a serious performance and sound junkie. Some header-back kits are designed to reuse the stock headers but are designed to delete the stock catalytic converter for uninterrupted exhaust flow.

But for road-legal purposes, some header-backs are equipped with headers, pipes, catalysts, mufflers, and tailpipes. The main difference is the increased diameter of the entire exhaust kit (including the headers) from the engine to the tailpipes.

What are the benefits of aftermarket exhausts?

The main benefit is a louder exhaust sound, which also means a more exhilarating driving experience. More than that, the principal benefit is improving the exhaust flow. The stock exhaust in your Silverado is tuned to deliver a quiet, non-obtrusive exhaust sound, and this is achieved by careful restriction of the airflow.

But in an aftermarket exhaust, you are essentially opening the taps for a stronger flow, and this has a profound effect on engine performance. Most aftermarket exhaust kits are engineered to offer maximum flow by using larger, mandrel-bent tubing and less-restrictive muffler systems. The result is better engine breathing by reducing back pressure at higher engine loads, accompanied by a louder and more forceful exhaust sound.

Which is better: Stainless steel vs. Aluminized steel exhaust

Stainless steel is a better material for automotive exhaust applications. It not only has a better and shinier finish; it also has a longer life expectancy and withstands the elements much better than aluminized steel. Stainless steel is best suited for snowy and humid areas, although it’s a pricier option.

On the other hand, the aluminized exhaust is less expensive and is better suited to dry climates. Aluminized steel is also easier to weld or customize than stainless steel. However, there are drawbacks. Aluminized steel offers decent heat retention, but it tends to rust or corrode faster than stainless steel. Also, it’s not as durable as stainless steel and has a coarser finish.

The choice depends on how much you can afford. Stainless steel is great for year-round climates but is more expensive. But in you live in drier regions, aluminized exhaust kits deliver the most bang for the buck.

Ivo Gievski
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