Active Exhaust: How To Know If Your Mustang Has It

Samuel Weber
May 28, 2021

Underside Mustang Exhaust

Loud exhaust fans - rejoice! If you have been following info on the S550 generation Mustang for the past few years, one of the most entertaining features of the car is the exhaust which can be made louder or quieter based on the owner’s preferences. The exhaust note on the S550 is good regardless of engine, whether in the V6 or EcoBoost all the way through the GT500 and has made it a great platform for any enthusiast to drive and to own. However, in 2018 Ford made enthusiasts happier by offering the Mustang with Active Exhaust which let the driver change how loud the exhaust is with little to no effort.

The Active Exhaust very quickly became a seriously desirable option on Mustangs, leading many companies to develop aftermarket active exhaust setups that could be controlled through controllers or buttons. While these worked well, Ford’s full integration of their Active Exhaust option into the car’s electronics through the gauge cluster made it the best option from stock. With it being such a desirable option, many owners may not know how to differentiate their vehicles from those with or without the Active Exhaust setup. There are a few different ways to tell if your Mustang comes with the Active Exhaust function that we will cover in this article.


What Year Is Your Mustang? Is There A Digital Option? Does It Have Exhaust Valves?



mustang burnout

What Year Is Your Mustang?

The most direct way of knowing if your S550 Mustang has active exhaust is knowing the year the car was made. Internally, the S550 has received major technological upgrades as well as performance upgrades. In 2018, Ford first made the Active Exhaust option available for the Mustang GT, three years after the debut of the GT350 which came with the active exhaust setup in 2015. If your Mustang GT is older than 2018, you will not have the factory option for Active Exhaust available unless you own a GT350. You could still easily do so with an aftermarket exhaust system but it will not have Ford’s electronically integrated setup installed.

Visibly, there is a difference in the appearance of the Mustang with Active Exhaust and the one without it. The 2019 EcoBoost received a different rear valance to fit the optional active quad-tip exhaust as opposed to the standard dual-tip setup. This rear end features a wider outlet for the exhaust pipes to fit as well as some rear aerodynamic parts in the form of rear diffusers. The Active Exhaust option gave the S550 EcoBoost the aggressive valved quad-tipped exhaust and wider mufflers to accommodate the electronics set up inside the car.



mustang screen

Is There A Digital Option?

In the S550 Mustang, another way to tell the difference between if you have active exhaust or not can be found inside the car itself. In the display screen between the gauges of the Mustang is the options screen. This screen can be used to show everything from what song is on the radio and current fuel range to different drive modes and performance settings. These settings, which are controlled by buttons on the steering wheel, allow you to go through pages of options to reach your desired screen. While flipping through screens, any S550 Mustang equipped with the Active Exhaust option will have a screen titled “Exhaust Mode”. The modes in this screen include Quiet, Normal, Sport, and Track, and these modes get progressively louder going through settings. The menus differ slightly whether you have the digital gauge cluster or standard analog gauges, but the active exhaust is available with both configurations. If your S550 does not have these exhaust settings available, it does not have Active Exhaust installed.

mustang wheel buttons

This display in the Mustang started in the GT350 since it was the first to feature the active exhaust technology in the lineup and showed the exhaust modes and drive modes in the space between the speedometer and tachometer. While newer S550 Mustangs have much more updated and technologically advanced digital readouts, the display for the exhaust settings is largely the same as it had been before. With a screen showing the four exhaust options, the Active Exhaust can be heard opening or closing based on which exhaust mode is selected.


butterfly valve

Does It Have Exhaust Valves?

The main point of active exhaust is that it can be set between multiple different modes and volumes, which allows cars to be loud when their owners want them to be as well as quiet when they have to be. This could be in relation to not wanting to wake or annoy people because of the volume of the exhaust while quickly being able to change to a louder volume and tone when safely out of range of others that might not enjoy the sound of your Mustang as much as you do. This is an easy way to keep everyone happy with their car, and the Ford setup for Active Exhaust has helped make the Mustang all the more livable in some communities.

The Active Exhaust setup is fairly straightforward and is easy to see if you have it or not. To check if your S550 Mustang has Ford’s Active Exhaust setup installed in your car, there are two main factors to look for. One is more visible than the other while the other takes a little more effort to see and check. The first and most simple way to see if you have valved exhaust is by checking exhaust outlets.

Both the 2018+ GT and 2019+ EcoBoost will have a valve on the inner tip on both the driver and passenger side if they’re equipped with Active Exhaust. Through the exhaust tips, you should be able to see down both exhaust tips to the pipe. One tip will normally look blocked off by a piece of metal. This metal is actually a butterfly valve that is controlled by the car’s computer. When you put the car’s exhaust in the different modes, the valve opens or closes depending on its programing. For 2019+ EcoBoosts, non-active cars will have dual-tip exhaust, whereas the Active Exhaust-equipped cars will have quad-tip. All 2018+ GTs have quad-tip, so you’ll have to check for that valve.




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