Few things are more irritating than dragging your exhaust on an obstacle you just cleared. Fortunately, Hooker offers a solution: the BlackHeart Axle-Back Exhaust Kit (PN 70405401-RHKR) for ’07-’16 Jeep JK Wranglers. Aside from offering a higher-clearance design, the lightweight 18-gauge stainless steel system adds a mellow sound with no drone.
The new BlackHeart exhaust was easy to install (taking just a couple hours to complete), and is definitely a DIY project for anyone who can swing wrenches. The system’s 2 1/2-inch stainless steel tubing follows the OEM routing, connections, and mounts. The welds, tubing, and muffler all are designed with durability in mind, and it comes with a limited lifetime warranty from Hooker. Check out the photos as we highlight the installation.
You can easily perform this job in your driveway, but we were lucky and had access to a lift for our install on this Wrangler. We began removing the OEM axle-back muffler system by loosening the OEM band clamp.
We used an exhaust hanger removal tool to extract the muffler hangers from the rubber isolators on each side of the muffler. (If you don’t have one of these tools, … get one—, unless you like cussing.)
With the hangers disconnected, we worked the muffler loose from the mid-pipe and lowered the muffler to the ground. If the tubing is stubborn, a little penetrating lubricant and a few hits with a dead-blow hammer can help the connections loosen their grip.
With the OEM system removed, we compared it to the Hooker BlackHeart Axle-Back system. This made it easy to see how much more compact and lightweight the BlackHeart system was than the OEM system. The high-flow muffler, and smooth, mandrel-bent tubing bends also help add a few horsepower to boot.
Before installing the BlackHeart exhaust system, we transferred the rubber isolators over from the OEM system.
The BlackHeart system features a separate tailpipe that allows precise alignment of the system for maximum clearance. Furthermore, the separate tailpipe allows adjustment to clear other aftermarket bumpers. We slipped a clamp over the muffler and loosely installed the tailpipe.
We lifted the exhaust assembly into position and connected the exhaust piping. Then, we reattached the exhaust hangers.
To maximize clearance, we adjusted the angle of the tailpipe before snugging the clamp. (Hooker designed the tailpipe connection so it can be repositioned to clear a wide range of different bumpers.)
Then, we snugged up the over-axle pipe to the muffler and checked the fitment one more time. Nothing looks worse than a crooked muffler, so we double-checked the angle of the system from the rear and side to make sure it was straight.
Once we were satisfied with the clearance and alignment, we tightened all the clamps securely. We used a cordless impact wrench, but a ratchet works just fine.
These “before” and “after” images illustrate the additional clearance the Hooker BlackHeart exhaust offers. Aside from a lower-profile muffler case the system’s tailpipe can be adjusted so it tucks up as close to the bumper and frame to maximize clearance.
On first start-up, we checked for leaks, but found none. While driving, the exhaust note is subtly powerful without any annoying drone.
The Hooker BlackHeart exhaust tucks nicely up under the rear bumper of the Jeep Wrangler. We look forward to crawling over our next obstacle without fear of dragging the exhaust.