Since the release of the first internal combustion engine, gearheads have sought ways to squeeze out more horsepower. While most modern 4x4s can be tuned up by simply plugging in a handheld programmer or performance chip, there are still plenty of traditional and cost effective ways to increase the performance of your ride. If your 4x4 is barely audible when running, chances are it’s equipped with a pretty massive factory muffler. These factory rumble deadeners work great to keep things quite but can often restrict exhaust flow, which can limit your engine’s performance potential.
The easier your engine can breathe, both in and out, the more efficient (think gas savings) and powerful (think smoky burnouts) it can be. Since our ’04 Chevy Tahoe now turns 35-inch Nitto Trail Grapplers on a daily basis, we were looking for an easy way to get a little more grunt from the factory 4.8L. To help with our performance pursuit, we grabbed a cat-back exhaust system from DynoMax Performance Exhaust and complemented the Ultra Flow system with a cold-air intake from S&B Filters.
Though the cold-air intake was an easy driveway install, we took the Tahoe over to the exhaust pros at The Muffler Place in Wilmington, North Carolina, to have our cat-back system installed. The Muffler Place is Wilmington’s oldest exhaust shop and specializes in custom exhaust systems for hot rods and trucks. They even have decades’ worth of OE exhaust schematics for those looking to re-create or bring back to life a classic pickup with period-correct routing. While the DynoMax Ultra Flow kit is completely bolt-on, we found having the truck on a lift made installation much easier.
Since the parts are all lightweight, we found that installing both systems was an easy one-man job and took only about an hour each. Once everything was on, we noticed that the Tahoe not only had a more defined and smoother-sounding rumble, but it also felt more responsive. Overall we’re pleased with the look and performance gains of the new air movers and are especially pleased that we now have that extra bit of power we’ve been looking for.
Cold-air intakes generally complement a performance exhaust system, as the age-old saying still rings true: The more air you can move the more power you can make. For our 4.8L the S&B Filters intake box increased the area air can be drawn from and now sweeps cooler air from in front of the inner fenderwell.
The S&B Filters intake kit was installed using basic handtools and reused all of the factory sensors. Included with the kit is a washable filter and a clear inspection cover so you can easily see when it’s time for a cleaning.
DynoMax offers a full line of mufflers, components, and complete exhaust systems for countless applications. To give our ’04 Chevy a little more rumble and flow, we opted for the complete 19361 Ultra Flow kit.
The Ultra Flow muffler is a completely welded stainless steel unit. Its single inlet, single outlet design creates less restriction and unwanted backpressure. Inside the muffler housing is DynoMax’s CRF (Continuous Roving Fiberglass), which helps create the new, deeper tone.
We used a Sawzall to zap off the old muffler and simply unbolted the rest of the tubing from the mounting flange that was located after the vehicle’s catalytic converters. To secure the larger 3-inch diameter system, DynoMax provides clamps and prewelded hangers so you can simple bolt the exhaust in the factory location.
If your truck sees a fair amount of rough terra and off-highway adventures then we suggest welding the exhaust together. We welded the exhaust tubing completely, but a few tack welds will help ensure that your new exhaust system doesn’t rumble loose on you when you least expect it.