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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 03-02-2016, 08:00 AM   #1
EmmyHunter
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Newbie Itching for an Exhaust

Hey everyone BMW Noob here. I bought my 2002 330ci 5spd end of May 15, same day I got into a car accident with my Sentra, anywho. Since getting her, Emmy, I've changed a myriad of minor to major parts. Clutch, radiator, disa, pulleys, alternator, belts, expansion tank, and a few hoses. I love my baby I love this car(first manual, first 6 cylinder). But summer is approaching and I'd like to finally mod my car after this last round of parts, which include power steering pump (bought), mass air flow sensor (bought), stabilizer links,and rotors.

I've been looking at exhausts and I know that's where I'd like to spend some money. But the options are endless and I'm going a little crazy.

Headers, muffler delete, cat back, straight pipes , resonators. Mid pipe, down pipe, x y pipe. Geez.

I would LOVE a more aggressive sound, and of course an increase in performance would be great. I live in NY, and trying to understand those legalities as well. I'm willing to have my car in the gray area lol

I've been looking at the MagnaFlow cat back, and the aFe machforce.
I've attached photos of each.
I can SEE the difference between the 2,but I don't know what I'm seeing.
Is that a cat, a resonator?
LOL Oh boy...


Any other suggestions, ideas would be great. I'm full of questions and just need some people willing to be patient. I'm open to any ideas, just be open to my questions.

As said before, I'm a newbie, to BMWs, and cars in general. I'm a 29 year old house wife whom unapologetically loves to drive her car.

Thank you in advance

Signed
Repressed Housewife Turned Speed Junky
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Old 03-02-2016, 08:24 AM   #2
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Welcome! Sounds like you have your priorities straight (maintenance first!) and a good bead on things.

The difference between the two is, as you said, the resonator. If the exhaust says "cat-back," it means it replaces everything aft of the catalytic converter back to the exhaust tips.

Start a build/maintenance thread in The Showroom, if you're so inclined, and post some pics. We'd love to see it!
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Last edited by Spannerhead; 03-02-2016 at 08:25 AM.
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Old 03-02-2016, 08:31 AM   #3
EmmyHunter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spannerhead View Post
Welcome! Sounds like you have your priorities straight (maintenance first!) and a good bead on things.

The difference between the two is, as you said, the resonator. If the exhaust says "cat-back," it means it replaces everything aft of the catalytic converter back to the exhaust tips.

Start a build/maintenance thread in The Showroom, if you're so inclined, and post some pics. We'd love to see it!
Thank you for your reply!
I didn't think it wise to get all the cool parts before the needed parts
Sucks being an adult, but in the long run worth it

So for my next question being that a resonator is missing, would that make that particular exhaust louder?! I've a napoleon complex, louder is good. Not ***** like though.
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Old 03-02-2016, 08:36 AM   #4
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The short answer is yes, the lack of a resonator will make that exhaust louder. The long answer any attempt to quantify the sound volume of a particular setup is complex and depends on a number of factors like piping length and diameter, muffler volume and internal layout, etc etc. In general though, even though it does some sound suppression, the primary function of a resonator is to tune the quality of the exhaust note.

My car's exhaust is bone-stock so others can chime in with their experiences. I say just go to YouTube and type in "E46 exhaust," find a clip that sounds good to you, then inquire as to whether it's a quality piece. But maybe you've already done that and that's how you've narrowed it down?
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Old 03-02-2016, 09:27 AM   #5
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I recommend the ZHP rear muffler and if you want a little more sound you could delete a resonator. Really good budget exhaust, but more tone-centric rather than pure loudness.


As for full catback systems, aFe and Magnaflow are both pretty reputable when it comes to quality. Sound wise, only you can really decide what you like. There's a good guide here of E46 systems with sound clips:

http://www.zhpmafia.com/forums/showt...r-the-ZHP-330i


The option I don't recommend is a pure muffler delete. Lots of people like this but it honestly sounds like a broken 90's Ford Explorer.
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Old 03-02-2016, 09:37 AM   #6
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Catless headers if you can get away with it somehow.

Others uuc tse3 if you got the money
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Old 03-02-2016, 10:39 AM   #7
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This is my setup.

Headers, hi-flow cats (in place of the first resonator), stock second resonator, modified straight through OE muffler(work in progress).

It's... vocal.
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Old 03-02-2016, 11:12 AM   #8
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This is my setup.

Headers, hi-flow cats (in place of the first resonator), stock second resonator, modified straight through OE muffler(work in progress).

It's... vocal.
You're headers are cat less right?

Did you just extend your post cat o2 sensors and add in some hiflow cats more downstream?
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Old 03-02-2016, 11:16 AM   #9
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You're headers are cat less right?

Did you just extend your post cat o2 sensors and add in some hiflow cats more downstream?
Yeah. Cat-less headers, and where the first resonator would be, is where I had the cats welded in, extended the sensors and all works.
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Old 03-02-2016, 11:22 AM   #10
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I got the UUC tse3. It's so sexy and doesn't drone at all.

Also I personally would not recommend the magnaflow. I had it on my car and it droned a lot at 2k.
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Old 03-02-2016, 12:02 PM   #11
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I have a zhp and wanted a slightly louder exhaust. I searched though youtube for quite a while and finally arrived at the Active Autowerke axle back exhaust. It sounds almost exactly the same as my zhp exhaust...

I had a magnaflow on my previous car and found it was a bit on the obnoxiously loud side. I've hear similar reviews on the E46. I would probably suggest removing the second cat and the resonator from your stock exhaust and run it that way. If you're willing to spend a bit more money you may be able to get a set of headerless cats, install high flow inline cats after the headers (with extended O2 sensor wires) to stay legal, but keep a power increase, then run either the remaining stock exhaust or something custom up to a muffler (of your choice). Eventually I believe this will be the route that I go if I don't just return to the stock exhaust, sell the AA, and leave it at that.
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Old 03-02-2016, 12:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spannerhead View Post
The long answer any attempt to quantify the sound volume of a particular setup is complex and depends on a number of factors like piping length and diameter, muffler volume and internal layout, etc etc.
I say just go to YouTube and type in "E46 exhaust," find a clip that sounds good to you, then inquire as to whether it's a quality piece.
x2 this would be my advice as well
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Old 03-02-2016, 12:12 PM   #13
EmmyHunter
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Wow thank you for all the replies
Catless headers? Legal?
MagnaFlow is obnoxious? Hmm interesting lol
I was going the route of the afe being that it's one less resonator, but Idk, it feels like somethings missing
Headers I've been slightly intimidated of, surprisingly.
I like the idea of a new muffler, I'd no intent on deleting, seemed risky
I checked out the uuc tse3, beautiful, and slightly over budget, BUT I'm looking at.
My budget has yoyo'd during this journey in figuring out how much bang I could get for my buck, as well, how much bang I'm going for.

Last edited by EmmyHunter; 03-02-2016 at 12:13 PM.
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Old 03-02-2016, 12:15 PM   #14
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x2 this would be my advice as well
Definitely, there were few videos of the afe catback, from what I saw, I fell in love with.
But I don't want to limit my options
Especially if I'm willing to spend that much
I want to know and understand what I'm getting
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Old 03-02-2016, 12:32 PM   #15
clabcon
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Supersprint LHD headers, resonated X-pipe and Eisenmann Race backbox.
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Old 03-02-2016, 12:36 PM   #16
EmmyHunter
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Supersprint LHD headers, resonated X-pipe and Eisenmann Race backbox.
I'm googling this now, thank you!

I keep seeing the name supersprint, so I want to check them out.
X pipes? Ay, I feel like I can't learn about these parts fast enough, I want to know everything, and now lol
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Old 03-02-2016, 01:09 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by EmmyHunter View Post
I'm googling this now, thank you!
I keep seeing the name supersprint, so I want to check them out.
X pipes? Ay, I feel like I can't learn about these parts fast enough, I want to know everything, and now lol
Supersprint is an Italian exhaust company recognized as one of the best (if not thee best). They are not just known for their sound and quality, but performance. They are also rather expensive. Which some of the better names are. Supersprint actually so good that china copied their header product and you see their knock-off versions on eBay.
Aftermarket headers are going to remove your cat converters. Illegal. Some states don't have smog tests so they get away with be removed. But they are illegal and not good for the environment. Recently the government is making a push to stop these. They are also louder and fumes rather smelly. The sound is sportier, both at the firewall area (engine compartment) and tail pipe. Your refined BMW will no longer be refined. Some like this some don't.

For exhaust choices you're going to have your big names which are rather costly and then the lower budget ones like MagnaFlow which fit a milder budget.
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Old 03-02-2016, 01:18 PM   #18
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something else to consider is an intake. these will give a throatier sound and could compliment the sportier sound you're going for. just be sure to get a reputable brand, one that filters and has a shield blocking it from the hot engine air. if you can buy a used one even better.

when combined with an exhaust it will change the sound.

but maybe it's best to stick with just a muffler and not make this project balloon.
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Old 03-02-2016, 01:25 PM   #19
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Budget ?

Header & Magnaflow 16533 to 7000 RPM....





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Old 03-02-2016, 01:27 PM   #20
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^ Holy crap that sounds really good.
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