5 of the Best Exhaust Upgrades for Your Silverado

October 18th, 2019 by

A chrome Chevy tail pipe.

For a lot of people, the stock exhaust that comes on their truck is all they will ever need – aside from the possible need for a replacement if they are not careful on the road. But for some pickup owners, the basic exhaust system just doesn’t scratch their itch for the best performance and the perfect sound from their truck. That is when a high-performance exhaust upgrade becomes a great choice to customize their truck in the best way possible. If you are looking for the best exhaust for your Silverado 1500 from Chevy, then you have quite a few options available to you.

It’s important to remember, as you look at your options, that you need to make sure any exhaust upgrade system you choose is compatible with your truck. That means you need to check your make and model, in this case, a Chevrolet Silverado 1500, and also the model year of your pickup. From there, you want to make sure you pick an exhaust system that is compatible with your specific engine since multiple engines are available for the Silverado each year.

Be careful with any aftermarket parts you choose for your vehicle, since you want to ensure they are of the highest quality possible. The following are some of the best exhaust upgrades for the Silverado out there, with systems available for 2019 as well as earlier models in most cases. These are general examples, however, so be sure to look for the specific model number that matches your Silverado’s model year and engine. It’s also very important that the installation of your exhaust upgrade be handled by a professional with experience, or you risk damaging the exhaust or your truck and failing emission tests in your area.

#1 – Chevy Performance Cat-Back Dual-Exit Exhaust Upgrade

When it comes to the best exhaust for your Silverado, it’s hard to go wrong with the original manufacturer of your vehicle. While the standard exhaust that came on your Silverado is fine, if you’re looking to upgrade it, then Chevy has you covered with their Chevy Performance Cat-Back Dual-Exit Exhaust Upgrade system. This upgrade will give you a deeper, fuller sound from your engine, improve performance, and comes with peace of mind from knowing you’re using OEM parts from Chevrolet.

This is a dual-exit exhaust designed specifically for the 5.3L engine option in the modern Silverado 1500, though a single-exit version is also available from Chevy. The dual-exit is just a bit nicer and offers better features overall, in our opinion. Like the other exhausts on this list, this is a cat-back system that gives you the best improvement to your truck’s sound and performance. Once you hear this exhaust on a Silverado, you’ll wonder how you were ever happy with the stock sound.

With the Chevy Performance Cat-Back Dual-Exit Exhaust Upgrade, you get a front 3-inch pipe with a rear split 2.75-inch pipes, made from 304 stainless steel. Upgrading your Silverado’s exhaust to this system can provide you with up to 10 hp of improved performance at 5,600 rpm and up to 6 additional lb-ft of torque at 4,100 rpm compared to the stock exhaust on the Silverado. This system is emissions-legal in all 50 states and will not void or alter any warranty you have on your Silverado since it’s an OEM product, as long as you have it properly installed by a trained professional.

#2 – Flowmaster Outlaw Cat-Back Exhaust System

If you’re not interested in an OEM exhaust solution, but still want the best exhaust for your Silverado possible, then consider the Flowmaster Outlaw. There are a number of these available for different model years and engines, and we suggest the Cat-Back dual-exit Exhaust System in particular. Dual 3-inch stainless steel pipes offer impressive sound and excellent performance, with options for either dual out the rear or out the sides – whichever you prefer. The pipes are capped with a pair of 4-inch double-wall black ceramic-coated stainless steel tips, which offer a great look and solid performance.

This is the first of two Flowmaster options you’ll find on this list, and the Outlaw series is noted for the sound quality it produces. We won’t mix words: the Flowmaster Outlaw is LOUD. Seriously, people will definitely hear your truck coming with this exhaust system, so keep that in mind, especially if you have close neighbors and need to use your truck early in the morning.

A Flowmaster Outlaw exhaust system, one of the best exhaust for your Silverado in Cincinnati, OH.

#3 – Gibson Black Elite Dual Split Exhaust System

Next up for a non-OEM option is the Gibson Black Elite Dual Split Exhaust System, which is one of the best non-OEM exhaust choices for the Silverado. This system is pretty similar to the Flowmaster Outlaw in overall look and design, with a pair of 4-inch rolled 304 stainless exhaust pipes, each tipped with a black ceramic finish. These are rear-out pipes, however, so you lack the other option provided with the Flowmaster Outlaw system.

This is a solid exhaust system that produces a notably aggressive sound when you rev your engine or cruise along the highway. The Superflow Muffler from Gibson provides a deep tone that some describe as “rich” or “warm,” which can be quite nice. We’d say it’s not quite as loud as the Flowmaster Outlaw system, but you’ll definitely notice your truck more than before.

#4 – BORLA Cat-Back Exhaust ATAK

This is one of the more expensive options out there on the market, but it is certainly among the best. The BORLA Cat-Back Exhaust ATAK is a dual-exit setup that includes a 2.75-inch pipe to the muffler and a pair of 2.25-inch pipes out from the muffler. This is a rear-exit setup that provides excellent performance and really makes for an enjoyable overall driving experience for your truck.

A Borla exhaust system for a Chevy Silverado.

The BORLA sound is pretty well known, and this one is the “Acoustically Tuned Applied Kinetics” (ATAK), which BORLA notes as a “super aggressive” sound. We assure you that’s an accurate description, and a Silverado with this exhaust system will never be mistaken for one with the stock exhaust. In BORLA’s lineup, the ATAK sound level is the loudest available that is still within street legal limits. If you want your Silverado to sound like a roaring beast, then this is a good way to go.

#5 – Flowmaster American Thunder Cat-Back Exhaust System

Finally, here’s another option from the Flowmaster brand, which is the Flowmaster American Thunder Cat-Back Exhaust System. You can use this exhaust system with either the 4.3L or 5.3L engine in most recent Chevy Silverado models, making it a great option for a wide range of pickups. It has a Super 40 series muffler that exits into a pair of 2.5-inch stainless steel tailpipes, which head out the rear of your truck. A pair of 3.5-inch polished stainless steel exhaust tips cap off the pipes for a nice, clean look.

One of the reasons this is among the best exhaust systems for the Silverado is that it provides an impressive boost to your truck’s sound without deafening you inside the cab. A lot of the other upgrades on the market offer loud, aggressive sound for your truck, both for people around you and for you while driving. The American Thunder series provides deep, impressive sound quality from your engine to people outside of your pickup, while providing only a moderate boost for you in the cabin. It’s a great option if you want greater roar from your Silverado, but also want to be able to talk to your passenger.

What is a Cat-Back Exhaust?

As we’re looking at all of these different exhaust upgrade options, you’re no doubt noticing the phrase “cat-back” on each one of them. If you’re wondering what that means and what it’s all about, then keep reading. If you already know all about catalytic converters and exhaust systems, then you can probably skip this part.

The phrase “cat-back” refers to the parts in the back of or behind the catalytic converter in your vehicle. A catalytic converter is a device that helps reduce the amount of toxic gas and pollutants created by your vehicle’s engine through daily operation. Internal combustion produces a tremendous amount of power to propel you and your vehicle forward, and at the same time, it also creates toxic gases that need to be controlled. Your catalytic converter helps deal with some of this and reduces the overall pollution that comes from your vehicle.

With that said, there are still gases that need to be vented out from your engine, away from you and your passengers inside the vehicle. That’s what your exhaust system does – it is located behind the catalytic converter in your vehicle and vents those toxic gases. So when you’re looking at cat-back systems, it just means it can be easily installed by swapping it out for your existing exhaust without tampering with the catalytic converter or messing with your engine.

A closeup shows a new exhaust.

Does Adding a Custom Exhaust Add Horsepower?

This is a question we get asked a lot by our customers, especially anyone who wants to squeeze out as much power as possible from their vehicle. It might seem strange that something like the exhaust system of your Silverado could actually improve its horsepower, but the reality is that yes, it can do so. To fully explain how this works, complete with math and the physics of it all would be a little beyond the scope of what we’re looking at today, but we’ll briefly explain it.

First of all, horsepower is determined for a vehicle’s engine by multiplying its torque by the RPM at the moment when that torque is created, then dividing that number by 5,252. That “5,252” in there is due to the fact that horsepower for a vehicle is describing rotary motion – you don’t really need to know that, but we wanted to make sure it was clear. So, increasing torque from an engine at a set RPM for that engine will, by definition, improve horsepower.

And that’s exactly what an exhaust upgrade can do. You see, your vehicle’s overall performance relies on a lot of different things, but the simplest way to think of it is that air comes into the engine, mixes with fuel, and is ignited to create an explosion that powers your vehicle. Then that air and gases are vented out through the exhaust system. By making that last part more efficient, the engine can perform its job better, and that’s where you get your boost in power.

What are Some Other Ways to Boost Performance?

Assuming you do not want to simply get a more powerful engine for your Silverado (there are currently six engines available for the Chevy Silverado, so there are a lot of options here), an exhaust upgrade is not the only way to boost performance and horsepower. As we saw a moment ago, the system that powers your vehicle requires air coming into your engine to create combustion and power. So, as you might imagine, that’s another place where you can boost your Silverado’s performance.

An upgraded air intake system, like a cold air intake, can make a significant improvement to your engine and your vehicle’s performance. Not only that, but a cold air intake is a surprisingly affordable option that really does make a noticeable difference. More air and more oxygen coming into your engine create more power for you. Just like an upgraded exhaust system, however, make sure you choose a reliable manufacturer and only let someone you can trust make any installations or changes to your vehicle.

A power programmer and performance chip can also be a great, high-tech way to boost performance with your Silverado. As you probably know, your truck has a computer that controls its engine and overall performance. With a power programmer, you can connect to this computer and potentially tell it to boost overall performance. Again, it’s essential to get someone you can trust to help you with this.

A closeup shows the exhaust pipe underneath a Chevy Silverado in a Cincinnati auto shop.

Where Should I Get My Exhaust Installed?

So, who can you trust to make sure any modifications and adjustments to your Chevy Silverado are done properly? With all due modesty, we would suggest your local Chevy dealership as a great place to go and have an upgraded exhaust or cold air intake installed. Here at McCluskey Chevy, we specialize in Chevy vehicles like the Silverado, which means our mechanics and techs really know your vehicle inside and out.

At our parts department, we can discuss your options with you and talk about your best choices for upgrading your exhaust, air intake, or anything else on your Silverado. And here at our service center, we can do all of the necessary work for you so that you can drive away in an enhanced truck that is more fun to drive than ever before. We cannot overstress the importance of having someone you trust do this work – and having a certified shop handle it for you. Otherwise, you could end up voiding your warranty with aftermarket work, or discover that the work was not done correctly, resulting in a costly and potentially dangerous problem.

Great Drives to Take around Cincinnati

Getting your exhaust upgraded or having a cold air intake installed can make your truck a lot more fun to drive, and even ensure it produces a more pleasing tone while idling or driving. But these kinds of improvements are pointless if you don’t actually take your Silverado out for a drive every now and again to enjoy everything it has to offer. So we took a minute to ask around here at McCluskey Chevy to find out which local drives were among everyone’s favorites.

  • US-52 east to Ripley and back – This is a great option that really showcases the beauty of the Cincinnati area. It takes you right along the Ohio River, but there are still lots of places to stop, so it’s a great choice if you have kids.
  • US-50 west to Aurora, IN-56 to Rising Sun – Going the other way, this is a stunning route when you just want to get away from it all and drive for a while. You’ll enter Indiana and when you find yourself at Aurora, head south on Indiana Route 56 along the Ohio River to Rising Sun. Trust us; the views are just as gorgeous as the city names.
  • US-27 to Ross, back roads to Oxford – To lose yourself in some Ohio charm, head north out of Cincinnati on US-27 – get off at the exit for OH-128 to reach Ross. This is a lovely place to stop and stretch your legs, then get ready to bask in the beauty of the land around you. Ignore US-27 and instead take Layhigh Road north out of Ross to really see the splendor of southern Ohio. Make a right onto Millville Shandon Road (also called OH-748), and take that north until you read OH-129 and turn left. Yes, you’re going out of the way, but this is the ultimate scenic route. Turn right onto Sample Road (or OH-732) – it will turn into Oxford Reily Road, but just keep heading north on it (it remains OH-732) until you reach Oxford. You can thank us later.

There are so many fun drives to take in the Cincinnati area, and having an upgraded exhaust only makes them more enjoyable. Once you have your new exhaust, be sure to check out those paths – you will not regret it.