2011-2014 Mustang Exhaust Buying GuideLast Updated June 13, 2023 | Andrew Boyle
Later model S197 Mustangs (those made between 2011-2014) have improved performance and sound, but can still benefit from an aftermarket exhaust. Whether you want to go for a deep aggressive note or something raspier, there’s an exhaust system that’s perfect for you.
These are the most popular exhaust mods for later S197 Mustangs and who each is a good fit for. Whether you’re a seasoned mechanic or just getting started, there are options you can install yourself. Or, you can always enlist the help of a reputable shop.
Do a Muffler Swap
If you’re looking for the easiest and least expensive way to alter your exhaust note, then you should take a look at mufflers. While both axle-back and cat-back systems include the mufflers, you can also just buy them on their own.
There are a wide range of mufflers available, each with its own sound profile. Even within a single brand, take Flowmaster for instance, you’ll find a wide range of exhaust notes. From very loud to pretty mild, there are a lot of options available. All of these are going to be more enjoyable than your stock setup though. And they’ll flow a lot more freely as well.
Check Out Axle-Back Exhausts
Like the idea of swapping out mufflers but want a little something extra? Then check out axle-back kits! These include your mufflers and tips.
Not only do these offer the same great sound options as a muffler swap, but you’ll also get a new set of exhaust tips. These can also enhance your exhaust note but are more likely to enhance your curb appeal.
Axle-back installation is incredibly simple. Simply loosen the exhaust clamp holding your factory muffler to the intermediate pipe, pull the muffler out of the hangers, and replace it with your new axle-back kit! Usually, no cutting or welding is required. Be sure to check the manufacturer's installation instructions before installation.
Get Performance Gains with a Cat-Back
Cat-back exhausts improve on axle-backs by adding a free-flowing over-the-axle pipe and ditching the factory resonator. This means noticeable performance gains. It’s also where you’ll have a lot of choices when it comes to exhaust note.
Many high-end exhaust manufacturers focus on cat-backs rather than muffler-only options because they want their modifications to show performance gains…not just sound improvements. That said, a lot of great muffler manufacturers combine their most popular products into a cat-back kit.
Start Your Exhaust Right with Headers
The exhaust manifold is a major point of restriction in your Mustang’s exhaust system. Even with all of the improvements in the world from the catalytic converter back, you can only eliminate backpressure so much without addressing this. Replacing your exhaust manifold with a set of aftermarket headers does exactly that.
Headers don’t do a lot for your exhaust note. That means they’re really only a good fit for you if you’re all about performance. Of course, paired with a cat-back, you’ve got a header-back system that will completely change the game for your performance and sound.
Installation for headers is more involved than axle-back or cat-back installations. Mounting these correctly requires working heavily around the engine. If you’re still new to installs, you should definitely get a skilled technician to help.
Be Happy with Your Exhaust
Exhaust mods are consistently the most recommended by other Mustang owners. That’s because they offer a huge improvement in sound and performance. Together, these two factors really improve the driver experience and make sure you’re thrilled to drive your Mustang every time.