How Much Does a Car Exhaust Install Cost?

Last Updated on January 13, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Is it time to replace your car’s exhaust system? Wondering how much it will cost? Installing a new exhaust can improve your car’s performance and fuel efficiency. But exhaust replacements don’t come cheap.

In this article, we’ll break down the average costs of installing a new exhaust system on your car. You’ll learn what parts of the system need replacing, what materials cost more, and how shop rates and labor impact the total bill. We’ll also give tips to save money on your exhaust system replacement.

A new exhaust can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. But don’t let the high costs scare you. Replacing a faulty exhaust is essential maintenance to keep your car running safely and efficiently.


  • A new exhaust system can cost from a few hundred to several thousand dollars depending on needed parts and materials. Stainless steel costs more but lasts longer.
  • Labor for installation makes up a significant portion of the total bill, in addition to parts costs. More complex jobs take more time.
  • Average costs of car exhaust installation are $350-$850 for a muffler replacement, $500-$1200 for an axle-back, and $1000-$3000 for a complete system. Cat-backs run $650-$1500 typically.
  • Buying parts online, using muffler shops, asking for discounts and shopping around can help reduce total exhaust replacement costs.
  • Signs like loud noises, poor performance, exhaust smells and trouble codes indicate when an exhaust system needs replacement.

How Much Does a Car Exhaust Installation Cost on Average?

With so many variables, average costs can only give you a ballpark estimate. Typical costs include:

  • Muffler replacement – $350-$850 for parts and labor
  • Cat-back system – $650-$1,500 for a mid-level system with installation
  • Axle-back system – $500-$1,200 for a basic rear replacement
  • Complete exhaust system replacement – $1,000-$3,000 for OEM or aftermarket parts front to rear

Luxury and high-performance cars cost more for exhaust work. But for many standard vehicles, plan around $1,000-$2,000 for a complete new exhaust system including labor. installation notes that the cost can be as little as $100 for straightforward cases, and as high as $300 when fabrication is required

A member on forum was charged an hour and a half for labor at $90/hr for installing a cat-back exhaust at a dealer.

According to, a basic custom exhaust system, including replacing the muffler and tailpipe, can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,500. More complex custom exhaust systems involving additional performance components can cost upwards of $3,000 or more.

A Reddit user reported a total cost of $2,132.92 for installing an OEM GR Performance Exhaust at a dealership, which was negotiated down to $1,836.21. discussions showed that that quotes for installing an exhaust system ranged from $1,500 to $3,000 at tuner shops.

The Costs of Exhaust System Components

The exhaust system includes components like the catalytic converter, muffler, exhaust manifold, pipes, sensors, and more. To get an accurate price quote, the mechanic needs to inspect your exhaust and see what needs replacing.

Here are typical costs for common exhaust components:

  • Catalytic converter – $200-$1,000
  • Muffler – $100-$700
  • Exhaust pipes – $50-$500
  • Exhaust manifold – $200-$700
  • O2 sensors – $100-$300
  • Hardware (clamps, hangers, gaskets) – $20-$200

So if you just need a new muffler, expect to pay around $100-$700 for the part. But replacing the entire exhaust system can cost $1,000 or more.

Materials Impact Cost

Exhaust systems are made from different metals like mild steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. Stainless steel is the most expensive but lasts the longest.

  • Mild steel rusts easily but costs less. A basic system costs $500-$1,000.
  • Aluminized steel has corrosion resistance properties and costs around $800-$1,500.
  • Stainless steel can last a lifetime but costs $1,200-$2,500. The shiny look is also popular.

If you want increased performance, an aftermarket cat-back system with stainless steel or mandrel bent pipes can cost $800-$3,000. But they come with quality gains.

Labor and Shop Rates Factor In

Parts are just one piece of the total bill. Labor costs make up a significant portion too. Exhaust installation quotes usually include:

  • Labor time – Book time is 2-5 hours for a muffler replacement only. A complete system replacement can take 8 hours or more. Shop labor rates are usually $70-$150 per hour.
  • Shop fees – Prices vary widely, but expect to pay a diagnostic fee, environmental fees for disposing of old parts, and other shop charges.
  • Taxes – Sales tax adds 8-10% typically.

Also read our articles on the cost of muffler delete, Honda B123 service, and heater core replacement.

The complexity of the exhaust replacement also impacts labor time. If parts are rusted on, labor takes longer.

Save Money on Exhaust Pipe or Muffler Replacement Costs

While exhaust systems aren’t cheap, you can save money with these tips:

  • Buy parts online – Aftermarket midpipes, mufflers and tips cost less online than at shops.
  • Use muffler shops – They may offer better rates than dealerships or general repair shops.
  • Buy universal fit kits – DIY kits have cheaper pipes that fit many vehicles. Buy a kit and take it to a shop for install.
  • Ask about shop discounts – Loyalty coupons and other specials can reduce the total bill.
  • Price shop – Call around for the best deals on parts and labor rates.
  • Negotiate on labor time – If a shop quotes high book time, ask if they can complete the work faster.
  • Avoid unnecessary replacements – Get a second opinion on exactly which parts need replacing.
  • Buy a welder, lift, tools for DIY install – Major equipment costs, but you’ll save on labor.

How Much Does a Cat-Back Exhaust Install Cost?

New Exhaust SystemOne of the most common exhaust upgrades is installing a cat-back system. This replaces the piping from the rear of the catalytic converter to the tailpipes.

A cat-back exhaust allows you to upgrade to larger piping, free-flowing mufflers and tailpipe tips without replacing the entire system. Prices to install a cat-back system range from $650 to $1,500 typically.

The costs include:

  • Cat-back kit (pipes, muffler, tips) – $300 to $1,000
  • Labor – 2 to 5 hours at $70-$150 per hour
  • Shop fees for disposal, diagnostics, etc.
  • Taxes – 8-10% generally

You can also just replace the muffler only, which costs $350-$850 on average. Or do a rear axle-back install for $500-$1,200. But for many, a cat-back strikes the right balance of cost versus performance improvement.

When Should You Replace Your Car’s Exhaust System?

Your exhaust system should last over 100,000 miles. But issues like corrosion, leaks and rattling pipes necessitate earlier replacement. Signs you need a new exhaust include:

  • Loud rumbling or rattling sounds
  • Reduced performance and gas mileage
  • Exhaust fumes detected inside the car
  • Rust holes along the muffler, pipes or hangers
  • The smell of exhaust in the cabin
  • Engine trouble codes related to the catalytic converter or O2 sensors

Replacing worn exhaust parts as needed maintains safe operation. A malfunctioning exhaust system can lead to inhaling carbon monoxide. Upgrading to a performance system also optimizes engine efficiency.

Final Words on Exhaust Upgrades

Installing a new exhaust system is a significant car expense. But replacing worn-out, rusted parts improves performance while reducing environmental impact. And aftermarket upgrades can add horsepower, torque and a throaty tone.

For basic exhaust repairs, expect to pay $350-$1,000. Performance cat-back or axle-back installations run $650-$1,500. And a complete exhaust overhaul can cost over $2,000. Premium materials like stainless steel do cost more but resist corrosion.

While not cheap, exhaust system replacement is essential maintenance. And investing in quality parts ensures years of safe, quiet operation. Following some of our cost-saving tips helps reduce the financial sting too. So don’t put off new exhaust work – it’s critical for your car’s engine performance.

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