Nissan Titan Aftermarket Exhaust

If you own a larger sized truck, chances are you have had the urge to upgrade something at some point in time. As the owner of a Nissan Titan, I'm no exception.

One of the simpler (and in theory, cheaper) modifications to perform is either to add an aftermarket muffler or maybe even step up to a cat-back exhaust system. Both are relatively affordable for a typical budget, but anything worth doing is worth over-doing.

I'm sure a lot of people don't have a particular preference to one specific brand over another and must research online for what they want. If you've ever searched forums for advice, you'll see hundreds of folks claiming that Flowmaster is the only good muffler out there, then immediately find hundreds more swearing by Magnaflow, then more prizing their Borla exhausts, etc., etc. It's nearly impossible to find a straight answer that everyone agrees with, so searching is not going to help much.

This article is not intended to persuade you one way or the other. It was put together to illustrate the exhaust system I have assemble on my truck. I'm not going to tell you it's the best ever, because I'm not a mechanic and don't have a basis for such a claim (much like most of the posters on automotive forums). This is just to illustrate some of your options. I have listed the modifications in the order they were performed.

Flowmaster Cat-Back Exhaust

The first thing I had modded was the stock exhaust. The Nissan Titan sounds pretty healthy with the factory exhaust, but nowhere near what it could with aftermarket gear. It took me about 2 months of owning the truck before it headed to the muffler shop.

I had two Flowmaster 40 Series mufflers installed (single-in, single-out) with 2.25" tubing. I've been told that, on the Titans, up to 2.5" can be used, but any bigger and you'll start losing torque...something you definitely don't want. The shop installed all new tubing from the secondary catalytic converters all the way out.

Because, at the time, I was a starving college student that had no business spending money on unneeded modifications, I skimped on the exhaust tips and got some small 'chromed' tips. Three years later they haven't rusted yet, but it's just a matter of time, I'm sure. When you do your install, spend the extra money for stainless steel tips...they last much longer.

In the end, I spent about $335 out the door and was very pleased with the sound. Not too loud, but loud enough to make some racket if I so desired.

Nissan Titan O2 Sensors

Walker Oxygen Sensors

After about 2 years of owning the truck, the dreaded 'Check Engine Light' reared it's ugly face. I stopped by a local Auto Zone to have the codes read. The reader came back with 6 codes: 4 for the o2 sensors and 2 for the exhaust manifolds. The guy checking it said it was probably just the sensors since the truck had reached the stage of high-mileage. He gave me an estimate on replacement parts, a little over $400 for all four of them.

Needless to say, that was a bit more than I wanted to pay, especially since the truck was still running well and getting consistent mileage tank after tank. The problem was I couldn't stand looking at the 'Check Engine Light'. After looking for cheaper alternatives, I found Walker oxygen sensors on Amazon for significantly cheaper. I got all four shipped for around $250.

Assuming you have a ratchet, a few extensions, an o2 sensor socket, and a couple of hours you can swap out all four sensors in a couple hours time. I found that unplugging the wiring connectors was more difficult that actually removing the sensors from the pipe. Just be patient and careful, especially with the new sensors. They are delicate.

Nissan Titan Exhaust Gaskets

Fel-Pro MS96946 Exhaust Manifold Gasket
Fel-Pro MS96946 Exhaust Manifold Gasket

If you have your headers off the motor, you might as well go ahead and replace your gaskets.

 
Bosal 256-054 Exhaust Gasket
Bosal 256-054 Exhaust Gasket

You'll be removing the manifolds from the mid-pipes during the install, it wouldn't hurt to go ahead and replace these while your down there.

 

Stillen Long Tube Headers

Swapping out the sensors made my check engine light go away for about a month, give or take. Then the light reappeared. After a trip to Auto Zone I was given the news that the codes for the front manifolds were back. I returned home to search Titan Talk to see if others had experienced the same problems.

Apparently, this was quite common. So common, that Nissan actually recalled the manifolds on the Titans and Armadas...as long as the light appeared before the 80,000 mile mark--a mark my truck had long passed. It seemed that I had one of two possibilities on my hands: either the manifolds were cracked, or the front catalytic converters were stopped up. Either way, I needed new parts.

The prices of the factory replacement parts nearly made me faint. Each manifold cost around $1100 from a dealer, and I was needing two of them. On top of that, the dealer wanted to charge 'at least' $700 to install them. I was not thrilled with this option.

I researched further and found that Stillen offered a set of long tube headers that were a direct bolt on and would solve my problem for about $600. As you can imagine, this is the route I went.

NOTE: these headers replace your front two converters, rendering your vehicle no longer street legal. If you live in an area that requires exhaust tests regularly, this is not the modification for you.

The install instructions looked fairly straight forward, enough that I figured I could do the install myself over a weekend. Unfortunately, the instructions I studied were for the two-wheel drive version not a 4x4 version, like what I own. I got to about step 6 before realizing my transfer case was in the way of the motor mounts, making removing those bolts extremely difficult. I cut my loses, put it back together, and found a mechanic to install them for me. He charged me $400, and assured me he didn't have any fun putting them on. I see this as money well spent.

I was looking forward to feeling the extra horsepower and torque these headers were supposed to add. Sadly, the Titan felt like it had lost power and sounded horrible, very similar to baseball cards clipped to bicycle wheels, just on a very loud level. The sound my Titan made was so bad that I contemplated trading it in during the upcoming weekend...yes, it sounded that bad.

This conundrum lead me to the next modification the very next day:

X-Pipe

I headed down to the muffler shop the next day to voice my complaints and see if there was hope. The owner said an X-Pipe would fit the bill. At this point, I didn't want to spend any more money on the exhaust, but I was embarrassed to keep driving the truck in public with it's annoying sound.

I agreed to the mod, and he persuaded me to go ahead and delete the secondary catalytic converters (at this point, I might as well, the truck is no longer street legal anyway). An hour later I was driving my Titan again and very pleased! The x-pipe cleaned up the exhaust note tremendously and I regained the low-end power I had previously lost. I was relieved that I wasn't going to have to trade my truck off, to say the least.

The x-pipe and cat-delete was about $165 out the door.

Results:

In the end I'm pleased with what I ended up with. I wish I hadn't spent so much on it, but there's no turning back at this point. The only negative aspect I've reached at this point (besides being illegal) is that at certain speeds, the exhaust resonance throughout the cab can be overbearing at times. It's not bad at all if you are driving by yourself, but if your with someone, you will have a hard time hearing the conversation without screaming at each other.

My next modification will be to either Dynamat or FatMat the interior in hopes of keeping some of the noises down.

Breakdown:

(click column header to sort results)
Modification:  
Price:  
Flowmaster Cat-Back Exhaust
338.68
2 Rear Oxygen Sensores
110.14
2 Front Oxygen Sensors
137.98
Stillen LT Headers
608.95
Replacement Header Gasket
19.65
Headers Install (labor)
400.00
X-Pipe Install
163.88
TOTAL:
$1,779.28
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