So, you bought an aftermarket exhaust kit and want to install it yourself. Well, you can do it. BUT, you need to make sure you have the tools, time and know-how to get the job done correctly and safely. Here’s a basic outline on what you’ll need and what it will take.
First and foremost, you need to make sure you don’t kill yourself or someone else doing this. You’re going to need a garage or driveway with enough room on both sides to work. It doesn’t all happen under the truck.
Round up a quality floor jack, heavy duty jack stands (designed for a truck, not your wife’s Camry), safety glasses, gloves, a Sawzall or hacksaw, WD40 or your favorite lubricant, a good socket set, a dead blow hammer or mallet and a pry bar or two. If you don’t have all of these things, you should consider the cost of buying this equipment vs. having a professional do the installation for you. And, “Yes”, we do install parts you bought online or elsewhere.
You’ll need a double garage or driveway because you’ll have your legs sticking out from under the truck as well as needing to assemble the new exhaust somewhere. So go ahead and double-check your new part now. Make SURE if fits your truck.
Many systems are multi-fit, meaning on a truck, the same part number might fit an 8’ long bed as well as a 5.5’. You just have to cut a pipe to fit the shorter bed
You don’t want to get your old one off and find out the new one isn’t the right fit. Unless your truck is brand new, you’ll likely end up having to cut off some of your factory exhaust so it won’t end up just bolting back on. And you don’t want to run without an exhaust or have your truck disabled while some internet company figures out what the right system for your truck should have been.
Let’s Get Started
Read the directions start to finish. Our techs read them every time. Why? Trucks change and parts change. Even if you’ve done this 100 times, there is a good chance it won’t be identical to the last time. And one of the worst things that can happen if you jump ahead or miss a step and have to try to undo some previous work. For many installs, this can be nearly impossible, so READ THEM.
Remove the old exhaust. Easy, right? Well, maybe. First, make sure your factory system is cool to the touch. Next, spray some WD40 on the rubber isolators that hold your factory system in, as well as where your exhaust meets the catalytic converter. Spray it from both sides really well to make sure it penetrates and helps your factory system come off more easily.
Unbolt it from the back of the catalytic converter. It’s incredibly unlikely that you can get your exhaust off in one piece unless you have a complete side-post lift at home, which is doubtful. So in that case, it’s time to start cutting.
A hacksaw is fine if you don’t have a Sawzall, assuming there is room for it. You may have to use it upside down since on many trucks there isn’t room between the exhaust and the frame rails for a hacksaw to fit. You could use it upside down but then the handle won’t be conformed to your grip. Awkward! Best to use a Sawzall or call someone like Chux Trux who has garages and technicians with all the right tools.
It’s easiest to cut just before or after an exhaust hanger bracket to make it easier to pull it out of the rubber isolator. Unhook the system from the clamps or stock brackets/hangers. These will vary depending on your make and model of vehicle, but most modern trucks are all very similar using a hanger rod that goes through a rubber isolator. They won’t just fall out. You may need to use a pry bar to coax it out of there. Do this section by section to make it easier. Most technicians agree it's easiest to disassemble from the rear and reinstall the new kit starting at the front (reverse order).
Assemble Your New Cat-back Exhaust Kit
Assemble this in sections, NOT all at once. Even if you have a garage with a lift, it’s too hard to twist this in over the axle. When assembling this, do it loosely. Keeping it loose makes it easier to move the next section around while getting it into place. You’ll go back and tighten things up later.
Work into place in sections, starting at the front of the truck (catalytic converter end). Every truck and every brand of exhaust will vary. Some have a Y-pipe, some of an "H" or "X" pipe in the front end, etc. Again, they all vary and this post is just a general guide.
Follow directions and reattach using the factory hangers (rubber isolators) until you get to the section behind the muffler(s). This is where some guys screw this up. As we said before, many manufacturers make 1 kit (part number) for a truck. Many times they are including everything in the box for a crew cab truck with an 8’ bed and saying this also fits a regular cab truck with a 6’ bed. You do to the math. If you put this kit on right out of the box (not that it would fit), it’s going to be about 3-4’ too long. Many times you have to either choose the correct tail section (behind the muffler) to install or, cut down the 1 long section they included.
Once you get through this step, go back to the front and tighten everything up and check for leaks. While moving things around, you almost certainly made something more loose from all of the movement. After you’ve driven 500-1,000 miles (usually about 2-4 weeks), go back and recheck all the bolts. Heat and all the motion from driving can loosen clamps.
Pay attention, take your time and you’ll probably be just fine. Again, if this isn’t in your skill set, give one of our three Kansas City stores a call and we’ll get it installed for you.