S550 Mustang GT Exhaust Guide

S550 Mustang GT Exhaust Guide

Last Updated June 29, 2023 | C.J. Tragakis

Though the S550 Mustang GT sounds good from the factory, many enthusiasts want a better tone and more volume. While changing the sound of your Mustang’s exhaust is often the main reason for getting an aftermarket kit, there are other benefits as well. A new exhaust can improve your S550's performance and enhance its style.

All aftermarket exhaust upgrades offer something different in terms of performance and sound. With a wide range of options, every S550 owner can find something that fits their needs.

S550 Mustang GT Exhaust Fitment

Though the Coyote engine used in the S550 has evolved through the years, some aftermarket parts, like mid-pipes and headers, are compatible with the whole generation.

However, cat-back and axle-back kits are not cross compatible between 2015-2017 and 2018+ models. Additionally, if you have the active exhaust system that was launched in 2018, you’ll need a specific active exhaust or non-active exhaust kit.

Add Sound and Style with an Axle-Back

For enthusiasts who are most interested in a sound upgrade, axle-back kits are perfect. They’re also the most affordable option. Plus, you get to choose custom exhaust tips in the finish you want, including carbon fiber.

There are some downsides to axle-backs though. You won’t see the small performance increase you get with a cat-back. And since an axle-back kit won’t work directly with the factory components, you’ll have to cut your exhaust pipes. This can be intimidating for beginners or those without a reciprocating saw. If you don’t want to do it on your own, an exhaust shop will be able to install it at a low cost (around $100-$150). For many enthusiasts, these minor drawbacks are worth the low price of admission.

Get Big Performance with a Cat-Back

Cat-back exhaust kits are the go-to choice for most S550 owners that are looking for bolt-on performance mods. This is because they provide the sound benefits of an axle-back, but also a moderate performance bump.

The added performance does come at a higher price than axle-back kits. However, there's still a wide range of options for almost every budget. Plus, you don’t have to do any cutting to install a cat-back kit since they connect to your existing factory parts. This makes them an easy project, even for novices.

Add Headers

Exhaust headers are for Mustang owners who want an increase in performance. Both long tube and shorty headers increase exhaust flow by replacing the restrictive exhaust manifold.

You’ll notice a throatier exhaust note after installing a set of headers.

Select an H or X-Pipe

Since the S550 Mustang GT has a dual-exhaust configuration, you can go with an H-pipe or X-pipe layout. H-pipes are regarded as the more classic, muscle car set-up. X-pipes have more of a European sound, with a higher pitch and more rasp.

Most mid-pipe kits are what’s called a “resonator delete.” Instead of adding a less restrictive resonator, they remove the factory one altogether. This can increase exhaust drone, but offers an easy way to get a louder sound on a small budget.

Swap Out Your Muffler

If you're after a sound upgrade that's affordable, swapping out your muffler is about as inexpensive and simple as it gets.

Muffler sound profiles come in a wide range, from super aggressive to more subtle. But really, any aftermarket muffler is going to provide a louder and more aggressive sound profile than your stock one does.

Complementary Mods for Your New Exhaust

Installing a cat-back exhaust kit or new mid-pipes will give your S550 a slight bump in performance. But a few bolt-on mods can help your engine reach its full potential. The best complements for an exhaust upgrade are a cold air intake and electronic tune.

A cold air intake will give your engine more cool air to burn, increasing horsepower. An ECU tuner will reprogram your car’s computer settings to optimize the timing and fuel ratio for better performance. Together, these three bolt-on mods are a relatively inexpensive way to make your Mustang quicker and more responsive.

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This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.