What is a test tube in a car?

When it comes to modifying a car, there are a ton of different options to choose from. A popular modification is the installation of test tubes (or cat exclusion tubes as they are also commonly called). But what are they? What they do? And most importantly, are they road legal and will they cause your car to fail an emissions test?

In this blog post, we’ll answer all these questions and more.

The problem with factory exhaust systems

As anyone who has driven a sports car knows, one of the most frustrating things about them is their restrictive factory exhaust systems.

Most sports cars come with a catalytic converter as standard, and this is the biggest restriction on exhaust flow.

Exhaust flow is one of the limiting factors when it comes to the amount of power the engine can produce, and it makes the car feel a lot quieter than it should.

Many people upgrade their exhaust system to get rid of these restrictions, but it can be expensive and time consuming to swap multiple parts for an aftermarket kit.

So why are factory exhaust systems so restrictive?

The main reason is emissions. Catalytic converters are designed to reduce the amount of harmful gases your car produces, which is why they are required by law in many countries.

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While they make your car cleaner, they also have a big impact on performance.

There are ways around the restrictions of a catalytic converter and one of the most popular ways to do this is to install “test tubes” in the car.

cat delete pipes

What are test tubes?

A test tube is a straight piece of tubing that replaces the catalytic converter. Test tubes are much more fluid than a standard catalytic converter and can improve a car’s performance. There are several reasons why you might want to install a test tube.

Less restrictive exhaust flow

One of the main reasons to install a test tube is the improved exhaust flow. By removing the catalytic converter, you allow the exhaust to flow more freely through the system.

This can lead to increased horsepower and torque, as well as improved fuel economy.

Weight reduction

Another advantage of test tubes is that they are significantly lighter than catalytic converters. This can lead to a reduction in weight, which can improve the car’s acceleration and handling.

improved sound

Test tubes often give cars a deeper, more aggressive sound due to the increased flow of exhaust gases. If you’re looking for a way to make your car stand out from the crowd, a test tube is a great option.

test tubes

Why are they called “test tubes”

Test tubes get their name from the fact that they were originally designed for use in test vehicles. Car manufacturers would install them in cars during the development process to evaluate the performance of different engine configurations.

These days, test tubes are available for purchase for anyone looking to improve their car’s performance.

Is the test tube road legal?

You might be wondering, are test tubes legal? The answer is: it depends. In some states, such as California, test tubes are not considered street legal. This is because they do not meet emissions standards.

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cat excludes

Other states, however, have more lenient laws when it comes to aftermarket exhaust systems. So if you want to add a set of test tubes to your trolley, check your local laws first.

While test tubes might not be legal in all states, there’s no denying that they can offer some serious performance gains. If you’re looking for a way to increase horsepower and torque, installing a test tube set might be the way to go.

Just keep in mind that you might have to sacrifice some street legality in the process.

How much do test tubes cost to install?

Installing test tubes in a car is not a difficult task and can easily be done by anyone with some basic mechanical knowledge. The cost of the pipes themselves varies by car make and model, but generally speaking, they are relatively inexpensive. (Compared to complete exhaust systems)

The real cost comes in the form of labor, as most stores charge around $100-$200 to install them.

test cat

If you feel confident and want to save some money, you can install the test tubes yourself. The process is quite simple and only requires a few simple tools.

However, if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, it’s probably best to leave it to the professionals.

You can purchase test tubes at most auto parts stores or online retailers.

Keep in mind that you may need to have the catalytic converter re-tuned before any emissions testing on the vehicle, so you might want to factor this into the overall cost before deciding whether or not it’s worth it.

Will the test tubes trigger a Check Engine Light?

So will installing test tubes trigger a Check Engine Light? The answer is maybe.

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smoke car

It really depends on your car and emission control system. Some cars have very sensitive emission control systems that trigger a Check Engine Light as soon as any modification is made, while other cars are much less sensitive and do not trigger a Check Engine Light unless the modification is significant.

So if you’re considering installing test tubes, it’s a good idea to do some research on your specific car model to see what other people have experienced.

Do you need engine tuning/mapping after installing the test tubes?

As for ECU tuning, that too can vary depending on your car. In some cases, it may be necessary to adjust the ECU after installing the test tubes to avoid triggering a Check Engine Light.

However, in other cases, you may not need to make any further adjustments. Again, this really depends on your specific car model.

If you really want to maximize the performance gains after installing the test tubes, it is always advisable to re-tune the ECU for maximum gains.

remove cat

Are there any downsides to installing test tubes?

One downside is that test tubes can be quite noisy. If you’re looking for a smooth ride, this might not be the best mod for you. Also, depending on local laws, installing a test tube could get you in trouble with the authorities.

Finally, test tubes can also cause your car to fail an emissions test, so keep that in mind if you live in an area with strict emissions regulations.

Overall, installing a test tube can be a great way to improve the performance of your car’s exhaust system. Be aware of the possible disadvantages before making the decision to install one in your own car.

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