Who doesn’t love the sound of a V at full song, but you can’t help wonder if you spent a few dollars could she sound even sweeter. Well you can and she could, and the passionate people at Borla know how to do it too. The lengths Borla goes to reach near-perfection are close to madness.
Borla exhaust systems are cutting-edge symphonies of sound with performance and they’re worth the money. Borla exhausts are designed and tested for specific make and models, they are not stock mufflers. Performance and sound are optimized using their patented technology. A Borla sound is unique. Their passion and commitment to exhaust systems are evident in all they do.
In this post, you’ll learn why I believe Borla exhaust systems are definitely worth your time and money. I’ll cover Borla technology, their range of products, their construction, and a ton more.
What You Want From An Aftermarket Exhaust
I’m a motor racing fan and recently watched an electric motor racing on the box. I just couldn’t watch it, it was just a yawnfest. It was lacking sound, obviously. But the sound is a HUGE part of the whole experience, way more than I thought.
Sound is one of the most important of our five senses when it comes to motor racing. Powerful engines create vibrations that we feel and hear, it makes the whole driving and spectating experience intoxicating. It creates powerful emotions – fear, excitement, euphoria, it’s get the juices flowing you might say.
Electric motors just don’t do it, at least not for me.
Yep, I missed the glorious sound of engines at full tilt, which I took for granted, until now.
So got me thinking, what do we really want from our cars exhaust system. No surprise – we want glorious sound and of course more power, but mostly we crave the sound.
We actually want more than that but we take the more bit for granted. A good aftermarket exhaust system, therefore, allows you to take all the other not sexy stuff for granted.
So what do we need from our aftermarket exhaust systems, some are obvious and some not so much:
- Make our stock motor sound sweet and rough in all the right places
- We want it to sound unique, you know aggressive and business like without being harsh, we definitely don’t want it to drone
- We want a system to fit right out of the box first time
- We want a kit that we can easily fit at home on a Saturday afternoon
- Materials are important too, aftermarket kits aren’t cheap, we want a system to last many years. Not begin corroding after the first salty winter
I’m a mechanic and I’ve fitted a ton of aftermarket exhaust systems, I know what I don’t want when fitting a kit:
Why Are Borla So Good?
Borla is a good exhaust system because the people at Borla are super passionate about exhaust systems. The glorious sound with performance but without the drone is unique Borla characteristics.
First off, Borla exhausts are designed for each make and model. It’s not just a one-size-fits-all approach. Each system has been designed, flow tested for performance, and tuned to produce that uniquely Borla balanced sound. Not only that, you can then decide how aggressive you want your sound. Three sound packages are available – ATAK (most aggressive), S type, and Touring, but more on them later.
I kid you not when I say the guys and gals at Borla research out in sunny California employ music technology, Pythagoras theorems, and organ tuning to help them achieve that Borla sound. Yep, sounds obsessive… because it is. But that’s why we love them and their exhaust systems, it’s also why their systems cost more than most.
They’ve developed some pretty cool exhaust technology. Two of their recent advancements include Polyphonic and SwitchFire technologies.
Borla actually creates and blends complementary exhaust notes together to make one sound, it’s known as Polyphonic. Combining complementary notes is common in songwriting because our ears love it. But, it’s how Borla does it, that blows my mind. Making your engine sound just right and increasing power don’t necessarily go hand in hand.
Engines create sound as the spent cylinder gases rush past the open exhaust valve and create a sonic boom, that’s the noise you hear, not the internal combustion.
Restrictions to the flow of these super fast-moving gases are the enemy. Exhaust systems by their existence cause a restriction and that means back pressure which is a drag on power output.
If power was the only factor in producing great exhaust systems, life would be so much simpler for the guys at Borla. A large diameter pipe that reduces in diameter as it runs along with the chassis to the tailpipe tip – the job is done. The reducing diameter actually helps drag the hot gases from the engine, rather than offer a restriction as you might imagine.
But the drone from such a system would be unbearable and that’s why we fit mufflers and resonators. And that’s where Borla adds their magic.
They fit various size diameter and length pipes within the exhaust mufflers to create complementary notes that combine to a glorious symphony of sound at the tailpipe. Makes my heart sing!
They use their know-how to remove sound frequencies that our ears dislike and emphasize the sounds we do. And that’s no mean feat, making the musical notes our ears like requires deliberately causing restrictions, which as you know hurts power.
These natural laws don’t apply to the smart people at Borla, they figured it out. Perforated cores and Polyphonic pipes – you can have your cake and eat it.
For those of us with a V in our life, I promise, you’ll love this. The SwitchFire technology is Borla’s solution to a sweeter more balanced sound from a V engine. Unlike a straight engine, each bank of a V motor has as you know, different firing orders and that causes one bank to sound different from the other, it’s the kind of challenge they love at Borla.
The solution, Borla has taken the basic X pipe and reimagined it. Instated of exhaust pulses simply smashing each other as they combine, they have designed the crossover pipe so as to blend seamlessly without aggressive bends that would cause restriction. Merging the pulses in this way also increases flow, one bank’s pulse helping to pull the other.
The result from flow testing – a 2-5% increase in power and a near perfectly balanced sound from both banks. Success, that’s the unique sound the pipe tuners are famous for.
SwitchFire X pipe can even be combined with a stock system for pretty cool results at a modest price. Borla care alright!
Borla Materials & Manufacturing
The talented people in Borla research California are matched by the talented workforce in Tennessee, that’s where the rubber meets the road. Being a mechanic and working with my hands for most of my life, I appreciate and respect what these guys are doing.
The workmanship is top class, if you get close to a Borla system, really look at the attention to detail. The care shows right there.
It’s no accident, of course, they work hard to produce this level of quality. They use skilled people, use top-grade materials.
Stainless steel T304 grade which resists corrosion is an all too common exhaust killer. They use 2.5″ pipes and bend them using a mandrel to prevent pipe wrinkles on the inside bends. The wrinkles would cause restriction to exhaust flow and you know the Borla engineers wouldn’t stand for that.
They do however stand over their products and offer an unbelievable one million-mile warranty.
GM, Ford, and Toyota choose to fit Borla exhausts as an aftermarket factory fit exhaust. Multiple racing teams fit Borla exhausts including the Corvette Racing Team, GM Racing’s Cadillac, and Team Lexus.
Multiple engine builders including Greg Davis, Keith Dorton, Kenny Duttweiler, Ernie Elliott, Ryan Falconer, Tony Feil, Dennis Fischer, Earl Gaerte, Ron Hutter, Sonny Leonard, Lingenfelter Performance, Pat Musi, David Nickens, Roush Racing, Saleen, Steeda, Ron Shaver and Robert Yates.
They all choose Borla because of its reliability, durability, and performance.
Borla Range of Products
Exhaust tuners commonly offer two systems – Cat-Back and Axle-Back, but Borla offers a 3rd option, the SwitchFire. OK, so what’s the difference?
It’s as you may have guessed, it’s a system that replaces your stock system from the catalysts (marked in yellow in the above pic) right back to the tailpipe tip. A Cat Back doesn’t include the catalysts.
Replacing this section will give you the very best results as it opens up the flow and allows the exhaust designer more scope for improving flow and sound. Obviously, a Cat-Back system is the most expensive system.
If you guessed Cat-Back, then you can guess what an Axle-Back is. An Axle-Back replaces your stock system from the rear axle to the tip of the tailpipe. This offers some improvement but as it’s a relatively short section of the exhaust system it limits both performance and sound improvements.
A traditional X pipe (seen in the diagrams above) mixes exhaust gases from bank one of a V engine with bank two and vice versa. However, traditionally, the exhaust gases simply collide together without much regard for sound or flow.
The SwitchFire on the other hand is all about finessing the gases to merge in a way that lifts each bank’s game a notch, a pretty neat trick. The pipe design allows for greater flow and helps smooth out the uneven nature of banked engines. The cool thing about the SwitchFire – it can be installed in a stock system, meaning you can retain the front and rear section, just swap out the center X section for improved power and sound all at a much lower price than a Cat-Back or Axle-Back system.
I covered the SwitchFire technology earlier in a bit more detail.
Crate muffler is an out-of-the-box muffler optimized for power and acoustics to suit an out of the crate engine or custom-built motor. It’s a no drone or at least reduced drone muffler designed to last and comes with a million-mile warranty, you can’t wear it out!
Borla does a ton of other good stuff too, all made to exacting quality standards.
- Mufflers and resonators
- Tubing, clamps and parts
- X pipes and accessories
- Exhaust tips
- Exhaust valves – for active exhaust systems including cylinder deactivation
- Retro electronic stacked induction systems (new)
Why Are Borla So Expensive?
Borla is expensive because its exhaust systems are technologically advanced. They’re designed and flow tested for optimum performance, for each make and model. They are not a one-size-fits-all muffler. Their exhausts are made from premium grade non-corrosive T304 stainless steel and come with a one million mile warranty. The 2.5″ pipes are mandrel rolled to ensure smooth non-restrictive gas flow.
The premium-grade materials are heavier are require greater investment in equipment and time to manipulate. All these factors contribute to the increased cost of a Borla exhaust. But as my grandfather would say, price is what you pay and value is what you get.
Check out the Amazon link below for cracking deals on Borla exhausts systems.Amazon Borla Exhaust Systems
Are Borla Exhausts Loud?
Oh yea, they’re loud alright, but in a good way. Borla exhausts are available in three noise levels if you like:
- ATAK – the loudest muffler on offer and it’s glorious (see video)
- S Type – the middle ground
- Touring – sings, but only when you’re pushing
What Does Borla ATAK Stand For?
ATAK stands for Acoustically-Tuned Applied Kinetics. Borla uses ATAK technology to precisely tune their exhaust mufflers. By changing the diameter, length, and number of perforations in the muffler cores, Borla can optimize both gas flow and acoustics.
Do You Need A Tune After Fitting A Borla?
Borla exhaust systems are designed to work in conjunction with a vehicle’s stock catalyst, therefore no tuning is required after fitting a Borla Cat-back, Axle-back, SwitchFire, or muffler exhaust system.
In fact, all modern ECU-controlled vehicles are smart enough to self-learn and self adjust, may only take as little as a week depending on miles traveled.
How Much Does A Borla Exhaust System Cost?
A Cat-Back system for a 2.3 2015 Mustang costs $1600. An average Axle-Back system for the same vehicle is about $950.
Will Borla Exhaust Void Warranty?
A Borla aftermarket exhaust system will not void the warranty assuming it was professionally fitted. A dealer may try to sidestep and use an aftermarket exhaust as a reason to deny a warranty but the law is on your side, check out the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
Will Borla Exhaust Pass Emissions?
All Borla street Cat-back, Axle-back, and mufflers are emissions legal in all fifty states of America.
Is Borla Legal In California?
All Borla street Cat-back, Axle-back, and mufflers are emissions legal in California.
Is Borla Legal In Texas?
All Borla street Cat-back, Axle-back, and mufflers are emissions legal in Texas.
Is Borla Legal In West Virginia?
All Borla street Cat-back, Axle-back, and mufflers are emissions legal in West Virginia.
Do Borla Make Exhaust Systems For Mustang?
Borla makes a complete range of exhaust systems for all Mustang models from 1964 to the current models.
Do Borla Make Exhaust Systems For Camaro?
Borla makes a complete range of exhaust systems for all Camaro models from 1966 to current models.
Do Borla Make Exhaust Systems For RAM?
Borla makes a complete range of exhaust systems for all Ram models from 1981 to current models.
Do Borla Make Exhaust Systems For F150?
Borla makes a complete range of exhaust systems for all F150 models from 1975 to current models.
Do Borla Make Exhaust Systems For Silverado?
Borla makes a complete range of exhaust systems for all Silverado models from 1999 to current models.
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- About the Author
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.