April 23, 2024 / by Danny Mavis

The Ford Ranger continues to be Australia’s best-selling car well into 2024. Buyers can choose a range of trims, a biturbo 2-litre or 3.0 litre V6 diesel, and a range of comfort, safety and convenience options to suit different needs. The chassis is sprung for Australian roads, tuned for light off-roading straight off the bat, and with class-leading interior and exterior space to get all your gear to the work or campsite. Top Platinum and Raptor trims get goodies like Ford’s versatile rack system, 20-inch alloys, a huge digital cluster and ventilated and heated seats. And if diesel power is not your cup of tea, an upcoming 3-litre petrol Ecoboost pumping over 400 horses is just around the corner.

Besides all the upgrades, a decent exhaust system is still missing in both the current and previous-gen T6 Rangers, even in cars nearing 6 figures. Ford, like all carmakers cut corners, and the exhaust is one place where it shows. While adequate for the paired engines, the narrow tubing doesn’t do any favours for performance. Nor do subpar materials that will dent or rust over the long run, if you use the Ranger like it’s meant to.

Why Is Stock Exhaust a Letdown?

Stock exhaust on Ford Ranger
Source: ranger5g.com

Noise and pollution regulations are to blame for most of the shortcomings in stock exhausts. Another reason is simple cost-cutting. In stock form, the tubing does most things right until you’re harder on the acceleration pedal. The crush-bent mild steel can’t keep up with the increase in temperatures from bigger bangs, and the thin walls are prone to punctures from increased pressure or impact from road debris, or rocks and branches when going off-road. Add multiple restrictions along the whole length of the exhaust, and you can damage the engine internals when nearing redlines.

How Aftermarket Exhausts Help

The benefit of aftermarket Ford Ranger exhausts is the better build, superior materials, and designs that open up the engine. This translates into noticeable advantages:

  • More power – straighter and wider tubes prevent excessive backpressure (or gases returning to the cylinders), increase exhaust velocity (how fast the gases exit the vehicle), and improve combustion efficiency with better intake capability. This helps the powerplant build more power. Estimates are between 5 and 15 per cent (depending on the exhaust configuration), so for the 2-litre bi-turbo with 154kW in stock form, you’re getting between 7.5 and 23kW or 10 to 30 horsepower. There are more gains for the bigger 3-litre turbo.
  • Longevity – aftermarket exhausts use mandrel-bent stainless steel that ensures more strength. This can be coated for improved rust protection, so the tubing holds up in wet weather or when crossing streams, and is heat-treated for impact resistance. The exhaust walls are also thicker, and the mounting hardware is made to a higher standard and reduces vibrations on bumpy roads.
  • Customised exhaust sound – mufflers, resonators and straight pipes are parts that can be configured to increase exhaust volume and deliver a raspier, deeper exhaust note. They can also reduce excessive noise in older Rangers, and meet noise restrictions. The parts can be added separately or as part of ‘complete’ systems.
  • Adaptability with other upgrades – upgrading stock piping is often the foundation for subsequent engine upgrades. While the Ranger may not be a tuning favourite (compared to hot hatches, for instance), owners can still extract more power by modifying the engine internals, going with forged pistons or conrods, or modifying the boost pressure in the turbos. All aftermarket Ford Ranger exhausts are compatible with sensors and bungs that measure basic parameters such as oxygen content or exhaust temperature displayed with the appropriate car gauges. These can help prevent engine damage in demanding driving conditions, such as towing or fast-paced off-roading.
  • Aesthetics – not only are there more durable materials, but designs have improved to offer more aesthetic appeal. This is especially true in the exhaust tips, but also with varying layouts (such as X and H-pipes) that you can truly appreciate with the ute lifted. The different finishes (polished, chromed, etc) also help here.

Configuring a System For Your Ranger

Ford Ranger with aftermarket exhaust
Source: mantapro.com.au

Complete systems include axle-, DPF- and turbo-back exhausts. Axle-back configurations change all parts from the rear axle to the tips, including the mufflers. They provide better sound, a slight performance improvement, more style with differently shaped tips, and more material options over stock. Choose this if mufflers and end pipes have been battered, and you want a cheap replacement that also looks good.

DPF-back exhausts change all parts from the particle filter. Ranger owners get wider mid tubes, the usual muffler and resonator combos to tune the sound and a wide selection of tips. The wider tubing helps with exhaust velocity, and pushes out exhaust gases faster, leading to tangible power and torque gains.

The most performance is from turbo-back systems. These include revised headers for improved exhaust scavenging (removing spent gases from the cylinder), wider down and mid-pipes and the same options with axle-back systems. Owners can also option different parts, such as high-flow catalytic converters and straight-tubed mufflers for faster gas flow. An ECU tune is recommended with DPF and turbo-back systems to gain the most out of your purchase and balance power numbers.

All systems are modular, bolt together with supplied flanges and use the stock mounting points. If you know your way around cars, you can install your Ranger exhaust upgrade yourself (or with a mate). Otherwise factor in labour costs and get a professional fit.