There is more to whether a resonator increases the horsepower of a vehicle or not.
Many factors are involved and the results vary. But a short and direct answer is: Yes.
Removing a resonator can slightly increase a vehicle’s horsepower.
With that said, let us look at a deeper meaning of a resonator, its functions as well as its effects on the power and general performance of a vehicle.
What is a resonator?
As mentioned earlier, a resonator is a component of the exhaust system. It is sometimes referred to as the pre-muffler.
This is because it is located before the muffler and after the catalytic converter.
The difference between the muffler and the resonator is often overlooked and the two seen as the same.
But that’s not the case. The resonator is a different component and it has a function of its own.
While the muffler focuses on eliminating the noises, the resonator focuses on changing the sound, by canceling out the high-pitched noises.
Take it as the echo chamber.
Being that resonators are add-on components, they may not be present in some exhaust systems.
Most aftermarket performance exhausts like the cat-back exhaust system also lack one.
Functions of a resonator
The functions of resonators come with a little bit of history.
Before its invention, it was only the muffler that was used to help with regulating the engine noise.
The mufflers did a perfect job at reducing the engine noise emissions. In fact, some mufflers could make your truck or car completely quiet.
The problem was, the quieter your engine was, the less powerful it became.
This is because, in order to reduce the noises, your muffler forces the exhaust gas on a certain path.
This becomes too restrictive for the movement of the exhaust gases, thus making your car or truck extremely slow. Additionally, the amount of fuel consumed also increases.
But later on, acoustic engineers came up with a solution and the solution was resonators.
1. Ease the work for the muffler by changing the pitch of exhaust sounds
The engineers realized that the resonator could help change the sounds before channeling them into the muffler.
The resonator did this by acting as an echo chamber, where the noises bounced back and forth as they cancel out each other.
This process can also be referred to as sound dampening, since the high pitches in the engine sound are eliminated.
By the time the pulses are leaving the muffler, they are changed and dampened. It then becomes effortless for the muffler to quiet the sounds further.
As a result, the movement of the exhaust gases within the exhaust system became quicker.
The muffler also gets an easier time reducing the noises and the performance of the exhaust system is not compromised.
2. Tune your vehicle’s engine sound
Besides helping to ease the work of a muffler, the resonator also plays an integral part in tuning your engine’s sound.
Typically, owners of luxurious cars owner would want their vehicles to move smoothly and very silently.
On the flip side, sporty cars require that deep, throaty, and aggressive tone.
All this is determined by the resonator, and it is another task that differentiates it from the muffler.
With just a muffler, your car will be quieter. But with a resonator, you can either choose to go with deep and throaty or silent and very smooth.
A resonator also helps to eliminate drone noises especially when you are driving fast.
3. Improves performance more than mufflers alone
As we have established already, using a muffler alone slows down exhaust movements, thereby reducing efficiency and performance.
But, when a resonator is added, the movement of the exhaust gases is faster. As a result, less fuel is used and performance and efficiency are improved.
Does removing your resonator increase horsepower?
Some people opt to remove their resonators and replace them with exhaust pipes.
The straight pipe used as a replacement is called a resonator delete kit.
While a resonator helps make the work of a muffler easier, thus improving performance and power, it also has some drawbacks.
It causes restrictions to the flow of exhaust gases. In so doing, it robs the exhaust of some horsepower and torque.
To gain back this horsepower, you can opt to do away with the resonator.
For the resonator delete to be of any significance, you can also do a muffler delete, which also means removing the muffler (which is usually illegal for street vehicles).
But do not expect a lot of horsepower or torque gains.
A muffler and resonator delete only gives a slight change in the exhaust system’s performance and power.
The difference in fuel economy is also not very easy to notice.
Should you consider a resonator delete?
It is clear that a resonator comes with some advantages and disadvantages and so does a resonator delete.
Generally, it is not advisable to do a resonator delete. But it is all an issue of compromising and preference.
Here are the reasons why you should not or should consider a resonator delete.
Reasons for a resonator delete
Three main benefits for removing exhaust resonators are to make your vehicle lighter, to give your engine a louder tone, and to get a slight increase in your horsepower.
Since resonators help reduce the engine sound, when removed, your truck or car will sound like a muscle car, emitting much louder and obnoxious tone.
This can be a disadvantage to some people but an advantage to others.
Additionally, removing the resonator from your vehicle’s exhaust will reduce the overall weight of your car. This means less weight to pull and so less fuel needed.
Reasons against a resonator delete
One of the reasons why a resonator delete is discouraged is because it can cause your vehicle to lose its signature tone.
Each vehicle model has a specific way of sounding. This specific sound is given by the resonator.
A resonator delete can also reduce your engine efficiency. It affects the back pressure of the exhaust gases, which may amount to more fuel consumption.
So, a resonator delete can give your vehicle a slight increase in horsepower.
However, this modification is not completely safe for your car or truck, and may not be worth the risk, especially if your reason is to gain more power.
The best reason to replace a stock resonator with a straight pipe or with a new one is if there is a build-up of soot which prevents the smooth flow of air intake.
But, if you prefer a smooth, quiet and lighter vehicle, then a resonator delete should be out of the question.
Whichever your decision, the horsepower gain will remain minimal, unless you replace your exhaust system.