Straight Pipe vs Downpipe

If you are the kind of person who enjoys a loud turbo for your car, then deciding whether to have a straight pipe or a downpipe is very important.

In short, A straight pipe is an exhaust system without a catalytic or mufflers converter.  It includes straight lines that run from the exhaust headers to the rear. On the other hand, a downpipe is a section of tubing that connects the exhaust port with the start of the car’s exhaust system.

Downpipes have catalytic converters that clean the gasses as they are produced. So, how do straight pipes and downpipes compare? This article contains all the details you need to know, so keep reading for some insightful information.

What is the Difference Between a Straight Pipe and a Downpipe?

There are several key differences between the two exhaust systems. Straight pipes produce many gases, while downpipes have catalytic converters that reduce the emission of harmful gasses.

A straight pipe can be illegal, mainly because of the emission, while downpipes in most countries are legal. A downpipe is more expensive to install. Straight pipe installation costs between $1000-$1500, while a downpipe can cost between $2200 – $2500.

You can easily install a downpipe yourself, but a professional would be best with the straight pipe as it even involves welding. Straight pipes produce louder noise than downpipes simply because they have no distractions as they are just straight, exposing the engine sound more.

Types of Downpipes

There are two forms of upgraded downpipes: High flow catted and catless. These two differentiate by either having or not having a catalytic converter. These two also have different prices as the catalytic converter has noble metals like palladium, rhodium, and platinum.

The catless downpipe has some restrictions that come with it. For instance, it can be illegal in some countries because of its environmental effects.

Advantages and Drawbacks of Straight Pipes


  • A straight pipe has increased performance in the sense that it enhances your vehicle’s horsepower. The system allows exhaust gases to flow freely as they reduce backpressure.
  • Straight pipes also give your car an aesthetic look making it stand out. Applying a chrome finish to the exhaust tip makes it even more appealing.
  • Since there are no restrictions like a muffler and a catalytic, the straight pipe exhaust system lets out the authentic sound of the engine.
  • Straight pipes come with universal kits that fit most cars.
  • They allow a reduction of weight; hence the car moves even faster. With the reduced weight, less fuel is used, therefore, saving more money.


  • There is no flexibility with the straight pipe. Depending on the design, you might need extra work to ensure it does not impact the airflow.
  • It can be too loud to affect your hearing, requiring you to have earplugs for yourself and the passenger. Straight pipe exhaust is usually very expensive to install.
  • Straight pipes produce a lot of emissions that are not friendly to the environment.
  • Reselling your car might be difficult due to legal issues in most places.
  • Buying new pipes can be expensive, and after installing, you also have to tune the pipes.

Advantages and Drawbacks of Downpipes


  • Downpipes contain catalytic converters that reduce the emission of harmful gasses, making them friendly for the environment. The position of the downpipe also impacts the turbo spool and performance but only if it is immediately after the turbo.
  • A downpipe also improves the appearance of your engine bay.
  • If a downpipe is well-tuned after installing, there will be no check engine light, and the essential advantage is that it increases the horsepower, which increases up to 40 and probably a 20 without a tune.


  • The only downside of the downpipe is on aftermarket catless downpipes, which leads to a slightly unpleasant smell. Also, most times, it is not street legal.


Conclusion on Straight Pipes vs Downpipes

The main reason to install a straight pipe or a downpipe in your vehicle is to enhance the car’s performance. Knowing both of these exhaust systems helps you choose the best for you, depending on your liking and preference. Although a downpipe is more expensive, it proves to have more minor disadvantages and is also environmentally friendly.