There are plenty of reasons to replace or upgrade your current car, truck, or motorcycle exhaust tubing. You can increase the power of your engine by providing better airflow. If the outbound air is restricted it will suffocate the engine and not allow air to be taken in, which is crucial to combustion. Aside from allowing better airflow, larger tubes will create a much more robust engine sound. Often the muffler along with the exhaust tubing are designed to silence to engine, and make it as none-noticeable as possible. If you want an engine that lets it’s presence known, the first step would be to buy larger exhaust tubing and replace the factory stock muffle and tubing.
On motorcycles the exhaust piping is often directly visible, and can add to the attractiveness of the bike. There is a whole art to exhaust tubing, and a wide variety of materials and finishes to choose from. The most popular is stainless steel because its ability to combat corrosion and last a long time. Water, which is a by-product of combustion, drains out of the exhaust pipe along with soot, carbon dioxide, and excess air. Water typically is very corrosive to iron and steel, but not stainless steel. Stainless steel exhaust pipes are iron with a touch of chromium. The chromium reacts with the air and creates a resistive film over the metal, protecting it from water and where it gets it “stainless” name from. Other exhaust tubing metals include aluminum and titanium.
Of course many exhaust pipes don’t just use chromium in the steel, they are also chrome plated, which is to say they are covered with a film of chromium. This provides a corrosion resist cover for you exhaust and even more desirable: a beautiful silvery, reflective finish. Polished chrome has a unique and striking visual look. Chrome plating can be expensive, so likely you will only want chrome plated exhaust tubing on a motorcycle, where the pipes are visible, there is little point in putting chrome plated tubes under your car unless you specifically intend to show off the bottom of your car.
It is also possible to craft your own custom exhaust tubes. You can buy stainless steel, steel, or other metal tubes, and bend them with either a press, or tube bender. Tube benders are surprisingly inexpensive and easy to purchase. Also, most well equipped machine shops will have them and will bend the tubes to your specifications. Obviously this can be fairly tricky to install and I wouldn’t suggest doing it unless you are familiar with custom car modifications.
The air handled by the tubes is fresh out of the engine. This means it is full of energy with both latent heat and hot air. Latent heat refers to the energy in the hot water created as a by-product of combustion. Steam is very corrosive and will damage your pipes unless you use the appropriate materials for your pipes. Soot can also clog your tubes, much like plaque clogging your arteries. The soot builds on the walls and can choke the airflow. When the engine cannot take in air it cannot completely combust the fuel and loses significant power. For these reasons it is often worthwhile to replace or clean your exhaust tubes.