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Silverado 1500 Mid-Pipes: Overview Guide

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X-pipes and H-pipes provide two distinct sounds. Depending on how you're looking to build your Silverado will necessitate one of these two pipes. H-pipes are throatier like classic muscle cars while X-pipes are raspier in comparison.

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Often times, a damaged exhaust is incorrectly diagnosed as a problem under the hood of your truck. This is because your exhaust system contributes to the amount of power your Silverado 1500 can generate on the highway. A clogged and restrictive exhaust system can cause a small rumble underneath your vehicle and physically impact the performance of your engine. One of the easiest and cheapest performance upgrades you can make to your Silverado is swapping out that narrow, stock mid-pipe with an aftermarket catless Y-pipe or a catted H-pipe. Whether you’re upgrading your Silverado with a dual exhaust or cat-back exhaust system, understanding which mid-pipe provides the best fit is crucial if you want to properly regulate power across your vehicle. With emissions testing in certain states and different exhaust system setups, this can become confusing. Let’s explain the importance of the mid-pipe to your exhaust system and ways to improve its performance to give your Silverado more horsepower and torque.

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What Function Does a Mid-Pipe Serve on my Silverado 1500?

The mid-pipe is a perpendicular piece of steel tubing that allows gases to flow from your exhaust manifold to the muffler. A catted mid-pipe features catalytic converters, which catalyze toxic gases into an emissions friendly redox reaction. 

Unfortunately, catalyzed gas creates back pressure within the mid-pipe section, which can physically block the flow of gases passing through the mid-pipe. Although they only create about 1-3 psi of back pressure, this can become noticeably worse with use, resulting in a thumping feeling underneath your Silverado.

You’re thinking why not just take off the catalytic converters or increase the diameter of the mid-pipes. Unfortunately, mid-pipes are specially fitted pieces so increasing the diameter would require completely swapping out most of your exhaust system. Eliminating the catalytic converter would allow gases to flow more freely, but it’s also illegal in some states and counties because of emissions standards.  

Your standard OEM stock mid-pipe will most likely be a straight, catted Y-pipe. Aftermarket mid-pipes improve upon the design of these by altering the pathway gases have to travel through to stabilize pressure in the mid-pipe. Most often, you’ll come across either off-road H-pipes or X-pipes. Aftermarket H or X-pipes are also required for a dual exhaust system.

What’s the Difference in Off-Roading Mid-Pipes for My Silverado 1500?

An off-roading mid-pipe, most commonly an H-pipe, eliminates restrictive air flow in your exhaust by getting rid of the catalytic converters. These are not legal for street use and are used exclusively for off-roading in your Silverado. There are also cat-less Y-pipes available, which provide comparable performance upgrades to an H-pipe. 

By eliminating catalytic converters, gases flow unrestricted through your mid-pipe, resulting in increased torque and horsepower for your rear wheels. They also provide an unrestricted growl for your Silverado so you can unleash the beast.

This may trip off your O2 sensors, so be sure to purchase a Malfunction Light Indicator to turn off the check engine light. A cat-less exhaust system may result in more foul smelling exhaust fumes. 

Pros:

  • Improved horsepower and torque to rear wheels
  • Increased gas mileage
  • Unrestricted gas flow

Cons:

  • Violates CARB laws and won’t pass an emissions standard
  • More pungent exhaust fumes
  • Worse for the environment

What are the Benefits of an Aftermarket Mid-Pipe for My Silverado 1500?

Many consumers are skeptical about what improvements an exhaust system can really provide. It’s your engine that does all of the work right? Unfortunately, restricted gas and intense back pressure will noticeably affect the performance and efficiency of your Silverado.

Exhaust systems make engines and trucks more efficient. With less back pressure, gas can escape cleaner, resulting in greater horsepower for rear wheels and also greater gas mileage. A clogged mid-pipe will force your Silverado to use more power to properly release gases built up in the exhaust.

Whether you’re buying a catted X-pipe or a cat-less H-pipe, upgrading your mid-pipes will decrease back pressure in your exhaust and improve performance.

  • Increased rear wheel torque and horsepower
  • Longer lasting, durable materials (stainless steel or aluminized steel mandrel bent pipes)
  • Longer exhaust life
  • Necessary for most exhaust upgrades (dual exhaust or cat-back)

Best of all, AmericanTrucks offers standard length mid-pipes that fit existing stock exhaust systems or any exhaust upgrades you make to your Silverado. Generally, it’s recommended to stick with the same brand if you’re also upgrading tube headers or other exhaust parts.

What’s the Difference Between X-Pipes and H-Pipes?

So we’ve been discussing X-pipes and H-pipes a lot, you’re probably wondering what’s the difference? Both provide adjacent piping that allows back pressure from your catalytic converter to stabilize, increasing air flow in your mid-pipes. 

H-pipes offer greater torque for shorter RPM bursts or when you peel out. They’re recognizable for their consistent growl on the road, especially when you pump the RPMs on your Silverado.

X-pipes utilize cross tubes to stabilize pressure. X-pipes offer greater rear wheel horsepower when traveling at high speeds down the highway. Generally, they are louder and have a higher pitched growl than H-pipes and can be featured on both cat-less and catted exhaust displays.

You’ve probably also seen catalytic mid-pipes, which simply improve upon the standard OEM mid-pipe design. These provide your mid-pipes with improved catalytic converters, capable of reducing emissions and provide better air flow.

You can use X-pipes and H-pipes for a dual exhaust system, but they’ll require a crossover pipe to connect both exhaust systems. Crossover pipes allow air flow to run unrestricted between the two exhaust systems, further improving upon your exhaust system’s capabilities. Unfortunately, you’ll need to swap out Y-pipes for a dual exhaust configuration. 

A Quick Note on Cat-Back Exhaust System

If you upgrade to a cat-back exhaust system, then your entire exhaust system, from the headers to the catalytic converters, will be replaced. Generally, these feature larger diameter mid-pipes with improved catalytic converters to provide greater horsepower and torque to your vehicle. You can upgrade your Y-pipe for an H or X-pipe that will further improve exhaust efficiency.  

What Does the Resonator in My Exhaust Do?

Swapping out your stock mid-pipes or eliminating your catalytic converter can result in a very aggressive exhaust system. One way to eliminate or reduce the amount of noise emanating from your exhaust is with a resonator. This effectively replaces the muffler system and is designed to eliminate a certain range of frequencies. It’s noise cancelling, so it works by producing the same frequency of the sound you wish to eliminate. 

Resonators can also make your Silverado sound more aggressive. Since they’re generally better at regulating air flow, they also improve upon the performance of existing mid-pipe setups.

Fitment includes: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, Hybrid, LS, LT, LTZ, WT, XFE, Custom, HighCountry