While it possesses no performance benefit, getting your car to shoot flames from your exhaust pipe is a desirable visual upgrade for many automotive enthusiasts and hot rod builders. Any flames coming from any automobile are illegal for road use and should you choose to make this modification, make it only on cars that will remain on the car show floor or the racetrack.
Exhaust flames are created by igniting the unburned fuel and flammable carbon that make up the bulk of exhaust waste. As such, you won’t be able to get much in the way of flames if you have a catalytic converter installed in your exhaust, as this cleans out the waste. So you’ll first need to either empty the catalytic converter or replace it with a straight “test pipe.”
You’ll also want to make sure that your muffler is fairly open and nonrestrictive. While you certainly don’t need to run without a muffler, the straighter and more open the muffler is, the higher velocity your exhaust gases will have and thus a bigger and longer flame.
DIY versus Pre-made Kits
There are two options to make your exhaust gasses ignite. Your first option is to buy one of the many kits available from online retailers or from a local aftermarket auto parts store. These kits consist of all the wiring, mounting brackets, spark plugs and control buttons you will need to get flames. The detailed instructions that are included take much of the guess work out of the install and hey come with warranties.
However, these kits are often much more expensive than the sum of their parts. You’ll notice in looking through on that it is essentially a couple spark plugs, spark plug wires and an ignition button. If you trust yourself with very minor mechanical work and have a spare afternoon to create, install and trouble shoot a DIY kit, you can save yourself a lot of money. Just put a spark plug in your exhaust pipe at about half way and then about six inches to a foot before the exit, wire them up to an ignition coil and firing button and then ground the whole thing to your chassis.
Protecting Your Ride
Obviously, huge shooting flames from the end of your exhaust can cause some problems with paint and body work. While the velocity of exiting exhaust gases will push these flames largely away from your car, there is still a very real element of risking your bumper catching fire and your paint cracking.
Many people install longer exhaust tips to further direct the flames, while others install metal covers on their bumpers where the exhaust exits. This not only eliminates any worry of cracked paint, but will also prevent your foam bumper from actually catching fire.