A Deep Dive into Catback Exhaust Systems and the GR86 Catback

Lynn Martelli
Lynn Martelli

Catback exhaust systems are a popular aftermarket modification sought by automotive enthusiasts looking to enhance their vehicles’ performance, sound, and aesthetics. From improved exhaust flow to a more aggressive exhaust note, catback systems offer a range of benefits for enthusiasts seeking to elevate their driving experience. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the intricacies of catback exhaust systems, delve into the unique features of the GR86 catback, and provide insights into installation, performance gains, and maintenance.

Understanding Catback Exhaust Systems

What is a Catback Exhaust System?

A catback exhaust system refers to the portion of the exhaust system that extends from the catalytic converter (hence “cat”) to the rear of the vehicle (hence “back”). It typically includes components such as the mid-pipe, resonator (if equipped), muffler, and exhaust tips. Unlike axle-back systems, which only replace components from the rear axle to the exhaust tip, catback systems replace components from the catalytic converter onward, allowing for more significant performance gains and sound enhancement.

Benefits of Catback Exhaust Systems

  1. Improved Exhaust Flow: Catback systems are designed to reduce exhaust backpressure, allowing engine gases to exit more efficiently. This can result in increased horsepower, torque, and improved throttle response.
  2. Enhanced Sound: By replacing the restrictive factory components with larger-diameter pipes, high-flow mufflers, and resonators, catback systems can produce a more aggressive exhaust note, adding to the vehicle’s overall auditory experience.
  3. Aesthetics: Many catback systems come with stylish exhaust tips, often in polished stainless steel or carbon fiber, enhancing the vehicle’s appearance and adding a touch of personalization.
  4. Weight Reduction: Some catback systems are lighter than their factory counterparts, thanks to lightweight materials such as stainless steel or titanium. This can contribute to overall weight savings and improved vehicle performance.

Components of a Catback Exhaust System

  1. Mid-Pipe: The section of the exhaust system that connects the catalytic converter to the muffler. It may include a resonator to reduce the drone and improve sound quality.
  2. Muffler: A device that reduces exhaust noise by absorbing or canceling sound waves. High-flow mufflers are often used in performance-oriented catback systems to maximize airflow while minimizing sound restriction.
  3. Exhaust Tips are the visible portion of the exhaust system that extends beyond the rear bumper. They can come in various shapes, sizes, and finishes, adding a visual flair to the vehicle.

Installation Process for Catback Exhaust Systems

  1. Preparation: Gather all necessary tools and components. Ensure the vehicle is parked on a level surface and the engine is excellent.
  2. Disconnect Battery: To prevent electrical hazards, disconnect the vehicle’s battery.
  3. Remove Factory Exhaust: Unbolt and remove the factory exhaust system, starting from the catalytic converter and working your way back.
  4. Install New Components: Install the new catback exhaust system, starting with the mid-pipe and working your way toward the rear of the vehicle. Ensure all connections are tight and properly aligned.
  5. Secure Exhaust Tips: Once the main components are installed, attach the exhaust tips to the rear of the vehicle, ensuring they are centered and aligned correctly.
  6. Final Inspection: Start the engine and check for exhaust leaks or abnormal noises. Tighten any loose connections as needed.

Maintenance Tips for Catback Exhaust Systems

  1. Regular Inspections: Periodically inspect the entire exhaust system for signs of damage, corrosion, or leaks. Pay close attention to welds, connections, and hangers.
  2. Clean Exhaust Tips: To maintain their appearance, keep the exhaust tips clean and free from dirt, debris, and road grime.
  3. Check Hangers: Ensure the exhaust hangers are secure and in good condition. Replace any damaged or worn hangers to prevent exhaust system movement or rattles.
  4. Monitor Sound Levels: Consider local noise regulations and sound ordinances when selecting and installing a cat-back exhaust system. Ensure the system complies with legal limits to avoid fines or citations.

Exploring the GR86 Catback

Overview of the GR86 Catback

The GR86 catback exhaust system is a performance-oriented upgrade explicitly designed for the Toyota GR86 sports car (formerly the GT86 or FR-S). Engineered to enhance performance and sound, the GR86 Catback offers enthusiasts a thrilling driving experience while maintaining compliance with emissions regulations.

Benefits and Features

  • Increased Performance: The GR86 catback exhaust system optimizes exhaust flow, improving horsepower, torque, and throttle response.
  • Enhanced Sound: The GR86 scatback’s carefully tuned design and high-flow muffler deliver a deep, aggressive exhaust note that complements the car’s sporty character.
  • Stylish Appearance: The GR86 catback has polished stainless steel exhaust tips, which add a touch of style to the rear of the vehicle and enhance its visual appeal.
  • Direct Bolt-On Installation: Designed as a direct bolt-on replacement for the factory exhaust system, the GR86 catback is easy to install with essential hand tools and requires minimal modifications.

Performance Gains

  • Horsepower: Depending on the specific design and configuration, the GR86 catback exhaust system can offer horsepower gains of 5 to 15 horsepower, with the potential for more significant gains when combined with other performance upgrades.
  • Torque: Improved exhaust flow and reduced backpressure can lead to 5 to 10 lb-ft torque gains, a noticeable increase in low-end and mid-range power delivery.
  • Throttle Response: By optimizing exhaust scavenging and reducing turbo lag, the GR86 catback can enhance throttle response and overall drivability, making the car more responsive to driver inputs.

Installation and Fitment

  • Direct Replacement: The GR86 catback exhaust system is designed to fit seamlessly onto the Toyota GR86 chassis, replacing the factory exhaust system without additional modifications or fabrication.
  • OEM-Quality Materials: Constructed from high-quality stainless steel, the GR86 catback is built to withstand the rigors of daily driving and provide long-lasting performance and durability.
  • Professional Installation Recommended: While experienced DIY enthusiasts can complete installation with basic hand tools, professional installation is recommended to ensure proper fitment and alignment.

Warranty and Compliance

  • Warranty Coverage: The GR86 catback exhaust system is backed by a manufacturer warranty against defects in materials and workmanship, providing customers with peace of mind.
  • Emissions Compliance: Designed to meet or exceed emissions regulations, the GR86 catback exhaust system retains the necessary catalytic converters and emissions control components to ensure compliance with emissions standards in all 50 states.


Catback exhaust systems, including the GR86 catback, offer automotive enthusiasts a compelling combination of performance, sound, and style. Whether you’re looking to unleash your vehicle’s full potential on the track or simply enhance its presence on the street, a cat-back exhaust system can provide significant performance gains and an exhilarating driving experience. With proper installation, maintenance, and regulation compliance, a cat-back exhaust system can be a valuable upgrade that transforms your vehicle into a true automotive masterpiece.

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