Since the advent of hot rodding, upgrading the exhaust system of a new vehicle has been a nearly obligatory alteration. It’s one of the easiest, most gratifying ways to modify an otherwise factory stock car for improved performance, and a more authoritative engine note.
While this was a pretty straightforward proposition back in the day—bolting on freer-flowing exhaust parts to get more power and additional sound to your ride—the situation is a bit trickier with modern hardware. Not only are the OEMs getting better at dialing in their factory-installed systems to provide maximum efficiency, it can be tough to modify your car’s exhaust system without running afoul of the law–particularly in California.
Here in SoCal, the California Air Resource Board regulates which aftermarket parts can be used with modern vehicles while remaining compliant with the state’s smog laws. CARB compliance is required when bolting on aftermarket parts to vehicles that require smog checks. Without it, not only are you polluting the environment; you won’t be able to smog (and thus register) your car in this state.
JBA Performance Exhaust is one of the few exhaust companies that has worked closely with CARB to ensure various parts that they offer work within the guidelines set by regulators. “One of the things that we’ve done really well is work directly with the California Air Resource Board to gain compliance on our JBA components all the way up to our 2017 units,” Greg Raymond of JBA told us at this year’s SEMA show. “We’re one of the only manufacturers that has CARB E.O. numbers that go that far up, and that’s included on the ’15-plus Mustang GT, the ’17 Camaro, the latest Dodge cars, and Toyotas.”
With that in mind, we’re taking Roger and Martha Baker’s otherwise factory stock, automatic equipped 2016 Mustang GT to the next level in terms of both performance and sound with JBA’s Silver Ceramic Cat4ward Shorty headers (PN 6689SJS), as well as a 3-inch, dual-rear-exit, stainless steel exhaust system (PN 40-2646).
CARB Approved Performance
When it comes to developing headers for modern vehicles, aftermarket companies have their work cut out for them within the tight confines of modern engine bays. Designing around emissions regulations (when applicable) further complicates the situation. “When we decide to design an emissions-legal header, we are constrained by the configuration of the placement of the catalytic converter as it is originally positioned by the manufacturer,” Don Lindfors, of JBA Performance Exhaust, explained.
An engine is an air pump. If you increase the flow into the motor with, say a better intake, larger cam, or forced induction, then naturally, you need to increase the flow potential on the exhaust side as well.—Don Lindfors, JBA Performance Exhaust
Because of those constraints, many companies opt to simply not design their parts for compliance, offering them for off-road and competition use only. But in states where modern vehicles must conform to emissions laws, using these non-compliant parts on street-driven cars is not only illegal; it creates a hassle for owners who will need to regularly swap out exhaust parts when it comes time to smog their cars if they want to continue being able to register their shady whips.
“The process for obtaining a CARB certificate on for new parts is both extensive and expensive,” Don said. “First, we have to apply for a CARB application detailing what we are planning to get an E.O. (Executive Order, the exemption) for. They then look for the worst case scenario of that car model. We then install the headers on the car, and take it to a CARB approved lab for testing. The testing is pretty extensive–and more involved than people understand. The test protocol that we have to meet is not the same as when you have your smog test done; we have to pass emissions tests that are the same as when the manufacturer certified the car new. Even though we must test cars that have at least 3,000 miles on them–and have already started to deteriorate emissions wise. This process can take anywhere from six weeks to four months, and that is if you pass on the first test.”
Fortunately for enthusiasts like Roger and Martha Baker, JBA has gone through this arduous process; which means their new exhaust system will provide the benefits of the company’s efforts to improve their Mustang’s performance, and sound while also being compliant with those smog laws.
Made from stainless steel and ceramic coated to improve under-hood appearance and engine bay temperatures, JBA’s Cat4ward Shorty headers offer not only increased horsepower and torque throughout rpm range—but improved throttle response, increases in fuel economy, and a more rich engine note.
Off-Road and Motorsport Parts
Along with their CARB-approved offerings, JBA also makes exhaust components that are designed to provide the most performance possible without the constraints of emissions compliance. Here are some of the features and benefits of these competition-only parts.
- Large diameter mandrel-bent stainless steel primary tubes
- 3/8-inch thick CNC laser-cut flanges
- O2 sensor provisions
- Superior flow and efficiency
- Easy installation
- Factory-style hangers
Headers and free flow exhaust will definitely help increase the power potential of other modifications to the engine, the parts will work together to make a complete package in the quest for more power.—Don Lindfors, JBA