Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Axle Back and Cat Back

axle_back_300_pdAxle Back vs Cat Back

Cars are the most well-known toys of the ‘big boys’. When people talk about their cars, it is either about the improvement of speed and power, or the aesthetics of modifications and overall appearance. People will spend money on these things, and the most common source of confusion is the topic of changing and improving the exhaust system.

Many people think that going cat back will make their cars perform better, i.e. gaining horsepower (hp). This is highly debatable among car aficionados, with some claiming a 5 to 10 hp gain with cat back installed; while others disagree, and assert that there will be no difference or additional power benefits. They will even change the exhaust system, and compare just to prove it.

Technically, cat back refers to the parts before or after the catalytic converter (depending on how you look at it). That’s why it is named that way. The cat back installation is much more complicated, because a replacement of the entire piping is needed. It will involve the mufflers, tips, resonators, and exhaust pipes.

Having, or installing, an axle back as an exhaust system, will roughly give the same power benefits. It is also cheaper, and entails an easier installation. Axle back installation will only involve replacing the muffler and the tips. This is viable option if you prefer to keep the car stock much the same, since the pipes are generally only removed at the axle junction.

Nevertheless, people will still attempt to go with the cat back for that uncertain hp gain. Cat backs are rather expensive, but if there is something certain about the exhaust system, it is the improvement of sound. Yet, it can still be subjective, as different people prefer diverse sounds.

If additional performance is really desired, a well designed cat back is said to bring that extra ‘umph’. The overall car system must be studied, and the designing process of the exhaust system is left to the professionals.

Extreme modifying, or simply called ‘modding’, will often involve cat back installations. Modifications like going ‘true duals’ will involve cat back replacement.


1. An axle back replacement will only involve the removal of pipes at the axle junction, while cat back involves replacing more of the piping system, which is typically the whole portion after the catalytic converter.

2. Arguably, cat back installation will add more horsepower, but many accept that with a well-thought design and quality of production, there will be significant hp gain.

3. Axle back does not promise anything about added power, but is considerably cheaper than the cat back.

4. Extreme ‘modding’ will often involve cat back replacement.

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