Every car enthusiast, or anyone who has seen a Fast and Furious movie knows how cool it is to see flames shooting out the back of a car. Powered by regulated explosions, cars have quite a lot to offer for the average adrenaline junkie. The simple thought of the explosion popping in a place it isn’t supposed to tickles a part of your brain you didn’t know existed! Think about it: your car is at the very edge of an explosion, but it is completely under your control (or the engines. As the flames emerge from the exhaust pipe, you are left to wonder, “Why does this happen?” Well, read on to find out how to make flames come out of exhaust!
Why Does A Car Release Fire From Its Exhausts?
To grasp the concept of flames emanating from a car’s exhaust, you must have an understanding of the working principle. The internal combustion engine burns a blend of fuel and oxygen which is derived from multiple different sources.
Controlled by the throttle, oxygen enters the cylinders of the engine, and the engine answers by releasing the proper amount of fuel needed for the combustion. Once the engine is working at full power, huge quantities of fuel are released at partial throttle onto the cylinders. This is the gasoline required to create amazing exhaust flames.
But, if you remove your foot off the gas suddenly, it cuts off the oxygen supply and the fuel system takes time to react. As the gasoline doesn’t have enough oxygen to perform a full burn, fuel in the cylinder moves into the burning exhaust system and combusts. Thus, fire is emitted by the exhausts.
Now that you understand what goes on with the exhaust underneath the hood, let’s talk more about what it takes for a car to spit fire.
The Process Of Shooting Flames From The Exhaust
In reality, the flames coming from the exhaust are a result of the amalgamation of different processes. However, it can be summarized as the ignition of the remaining air-gasoline blend from the exhaust pipeline’s combustion chamber. This creates explosive sounds and the occasional flame shoots from the edge of the exhaust.
We can divide the process into 2 stages: Overrun followed by Exhaust Combustion.
Vehicles with stick shifts (and if you know how to drive manual and how to drive a manual) facilitate engine braking. Find yourself an empty and safe road. Place your vehicle in first gear and without shifting up, accelerate. The engine’s RPM goes up with the increase of the car’s speed.
You must hold the accelerator pedal in position to keep the RPM level steady. If you allow the accelerator to slip into that gear, the car will come to a halt with a disturbing lurch. Simultaneously, the collected RPM drops quickly, as there isn’t enough ignition occurring in the engine to maintain the RPM.
Slowing down cars like this is termed engine braking, and every kind of car can experience it. The instant you release the accelerator, there is too much RPM for the engine to sustain, thanks to the inadequacy of ignition. This condition is called overrun and it results in engine braking.
You may be able to experience engine braking with little to no effort, but whatever goes on downstream is a bit more hidden – unless you drive a sports car.
The unburnt gas blend gets released into the exhaust pipe as well as a mixture of other exhaust gases. But, most passenger cars come with catalytic converters, otherwise known as “silencers” that help them clean up the gases before spreading them into the environment.
Vehicles that have looser exhaust pipes use the heat of the exhaust to burn the unburnt fuel within, rather than the engine. This produces the booming sounds and flames released from the exhaust.
Requirements For A Flaming And Loud Exhaust
There are specific prerequisites to how to make flames come out of the exhaust. If you own a high-performance vehicle, chances are, those are default.
Rich Fuel Mixture
Only gasoline/petrol engines can produce exhaust noises due to their increased volatility. We know that when an engine combusts fuel and air, it does so in a fixed ratio. When there is excess fuel in the mixture in comparison to air, the blend becomes “rich.” As a result, the additional fuel moves to the vehicle’s exhaust stream.
Installed in factories, exhausts are generally constricted by chemical and physical barriers to abide by noise, environmental, and safety regulations. The catalytic converters are tasked with scrubbing unburnt fuel and toxic fumes before they can get mixed with atmospheric oxygen. This acts as a deterrent to the “after burning” effect. Therefore, free-flowing or less restrictive exhausts are needed for flames and loud crackling.
Ignition Retardation And Valve Overlap
An engine requires a plethora of parts working in harmony at certain timestamps to function. In regular cars, the exhaust valves and inlets open at different times, lest unused gasoline leaves the combustion chamber. That, however, is exactly what we want in this case. Therefore, the moment of opening for these inlets “overlaps” for the surplus and unburnt charge to exit the chamber.
This is followed by a spark delay which makes the air-fuel blend combust. An engine cam spark only when both valves are closed so that the generated power remains captive in the system for optimal efficiency. We call this situation delayed sparking or ignition retardation. It helps in combusting the additional fuel while it leaves the exhaust port.
How To Make Flames Come Out Of Exhaust: 11 Different Ways
There are a few different ways in which you can have your car shooting flames from its exhaust. Read below and choose one to try for yourself at home:
1. How To Make Flames Come Out Of Exhaust: Use An Older Car
Older cars are significantly easier to backfire than new-age cars with pumped-up safety features. The development of technology has made it easier for modern cars to prevent flames but harder for car-trick enthusiasts to flame up their cars. Cars from the 80s in particular can spit fire easier.
Is it dangerous? Certainly is; which is why it is crucial to ensure everything is working fine before you try something. So before you do anything, make sure there are no drips or leaks in the car that can create an unwanted fire. Follow this tutorial to learn how to diagnose leaks in cars.
Another reason we suggest using old cars is that if anything were to happen, your wallet would recover quicker.
First, turn on the engine and allow it to gain some gas. Then, turn it off but do not remove your foot from the pedal – maintain light pressure. Remain like that for some seconds and allow the car to start again. Once you have the engine running, ground the accelerator. This should make flames shoot right out of the engine.
2. How To Make Flames Come Out Of Exhaust: Put A Spark Plug In The Exhaust
Many people have found this method easy and enjoyable. But, it could get really dangerous in the span of a few seconds, so try to not repeat it if you want your vehicle to have a long life.
For this simple trick, you will need to install a spark plug in the exhaust. Attach a spark plug around 5” from the exhaust’s tip, run the wire to the driver, and place a switch to start a spark. Attach the switch’s wire to the car battery positive terminal on the other side.
3. How To Make Flames Come Out Of Exhaust: Use Flamethrower Kits
Perhaps this is the easiest way to make flames emerge from your car’s exhaust. As you have to purchase kits to produce the flames in the first place, many do not prefer this technique. However, kits like this aren’t that expensive.
So, if you want flames from the exhaust, this approach is quick, easy, and efficient. Plus, it requires the least amount of effort. If you are in it for the kick of a DIY project, this might not be the one for you.
Go to your local auto shop and ask for the flamethrower kit. Read the instructions 2 to 3 times and understand what they are asking for. In general, you have to start with drilling the exhaust tip and fixing the spark plug.
Now, follow the rest of the instructions and wire the kits. After 2 hours, you will be done with the installation and ready to see some flames blazing up the back of your car!
4. How To Make Flames Come Out Of Exhaust: Anti-Lag
Anti-lag systems are commonly used to decrease turbo lag. It burns fuel after an engine but before it can reach the turbo. With the anti-lag system activated, the turbo stays in action despite the lack of exhaust gases.
A notable disadvantage, however, is that it can produce huge flames.
5. How To Make Flames Come Out Of Exhaust: Tamper With The Fuel-Air Ratio
Although this technique sounds pretty complicated, it’s not. We only recommend this method for people who truly wish to see impressive flames lighting up on the back of their cars. The idea is to make fuel injectors deliver additional gasoline to the engine – more than what it would need for regular, full combustion.
In doing so, strong flames will shoot out from the exhaust. Beware: this may ruin your vehicle’s fuel economy and make the engine run hot. If the catalytic converters are operated still, they might get clogged up, stealing power and choking everything upstream. Maintain high caution when doing this if you don’t want to ruin your car.
6. How To Make Flames Come Out Of Exhaust: ECU Programming
ECU programming requires a fair share of technical know-how. You must know how to remap your engine control unit’s (ECU’s) programming. Through the reprogramming, you are going to try and keep the fuel of your car going inside a closed throttle. The fuel will travel through the engine before ending up at the exhaust as unused gasoline.
The exhaust’s heat can combust the fuel, producing flames. We highly recommend consulting with a professional to get your ECU remapped. It’s not a task for amateurs.
7. How To Make Flames Come Out Of Exhaust: Straight Pipes
As catalytic converters are the root of the problem here, why not remove them? These block the patch of fire and have to be discarded. Granted, they are not the best for the environment, but you don’t want to flame up your car every other day so it should not be an issue.
On top of removing the blockage of fire, straight pipes are much louder compared to OEM exhaust.
The extraction of catalytic converters from cars is banned in most US states. Even if you do this, stay within safe bounds where you wouldn’t hurt anyone. And do not take your vehicle out for a joyride!
8. How To Make Flames Come Out Of Exhaust: Carburetors
A carbureted engine is perfect for shooting flames through the exhaust. Fuel injection has to be rather precise to pull this off. Carburetors are classic car components that can help you live out your flaming fantasy. Their slow response times perfectly complement the full-to-no throttle technique we talked about earlier.
9. How To Make Flames Come Out Of Exhaust: Two-Step Systems
On consumer cars, they have the name “Launch Control Systems.” In summary, the car is programmed to restrict how fast an engine can spit to optimize acceleration while safeguarding you from a blown-out engine.
When the 1st rev limiter is brought into action, the computer instructs the engine to maintain an RPM that it finds suitable for the launch.
This helps minimize how much the wheels spin, giving the tires the grip they require. The 2nd rev limiter is positioned near the redline of the engine, the highest engine speed a combustion engine is allowed to reach without harming the internal bits.
Due to emissions and safety regulations, factory launch control systems restrict the RPM of the engine by adjusting the fuel-air mixture to be leaner. However, aftermarket solutions can simply cut or delay their combustion. But where does all the unburnt fuel go? That’s right: the exhaust.
10. How To Make Flames Come Out Of Exhaust: Muffler Delete
A muffle delete is such a modification that can heighten the chances of a backfire in cars. This is the process of removing the muffling part from the car’s exhaust.
A muffler has the sole purpose of quieting the noise created by the exhaust. It features several interior baffles through which the sound is scattered and dissipated before it leaves the tailpipe. If you remove the muffle, you have to change it with a straight tube. After that, the exhaust is allowed free movement through the exhaust pipe, and the flames exit your tailpipe smoothly.
This is also a quick way to increase your car’s loudness. Tip: Some states ban the use of cars without mufflers. It’s will get you pulled over.
11. How To Make Flames Come Out Of Exhaust: Alternative For A Performance Muffler
If you do not wish to remove the muffle, you can also choose to swap it out. Alternatively, you will be using a performance muffler. These components are designed to produce an impressive note from the car’s exhaust. If you fit one into your sports vehicle, you may be successful in unlocking backfiring.
It’s best to get this service done by a performance shop or mechanic to do this without errors. A muffler like this will easily run for a few hundred dollars after labor and parts are factored in.
Can A Regular Car Spit Flames?
No, a regular car is incapable of spitting flames. Passenger cars are made with safety and efficiency in mind and do not have the structure to shoot flames or create loud pops. Having said that, there are aftermarket kits you can buy to power up humbler vehicles for the task.
Some kits modify the car to fit a more sports car specification, like triggering a valve overlap, installing a free-flowing exhaust, or enriching the gasoline blend. The resulting flames are completely incidental and cannot be forecasted.
But some kits do come with sparking circuitry installed in the exhaust. The unburnt air-fuel blend is moved to the exhaust and combusted, creating a more voluptuous and intentional flame.
Rattling exhaust and flame throws, however, aren’t simply limited to cars. You can get the same effect in every high-performance vehicle like racing motorcycles, F1 cars, and motherboards equipped with inboard engines too!
Is It Safe To Shoot Fire?
You now know how to make flames come out of the exhaust. This is the stage where you must ask yourself, “Is doing so safe?” The answer is, no, it’s not safe if done for prolonged periods. If you continue making flames come out of your car through these means, the turbo, engine, and everything else within the car can be gravely damaged.
Thus, refrain from doing it unless you are 100% sure about the consequences. The flames being released by the exhaust could damage your car and fire it up. Talk to a professional before trying anything like this on your car, especially if it’s an expensive model.
Is It Legal?
There isn’t enough information on this topic to give a conclusive answer. However, as we answer this, we are in no way legal entities that can give you advice on this topic. It is illegal in states that have adopted the Californian Code 27152. According to this law, you cannot operate a motor vehicle in a manner that releases excessive flame, smoke, oil, fuel residue, or fuel.
You can find loopholes for this in many states as there are no laws explicitly banning the release of flames from an exhaust. Consult with your DMV to get the exact information. Don’t do anything that will land you with a ticket, or worse, jail.
What Exhausts Are Illegal?
Exhaust alterations are only illegal if they emit noise of more than 96 decibels. Keep in mind that your custom exhaust changes can still be rendered illegal on account of California smog laws or similar legislation.
All vehicle exhaust systems need to contain muffles. Any cutouts, bypass, and whistle tips are banned.
The Big Disadvantage Of Making Flames Come Out Of The Exhaust
If you couldn’t tell already, liquid fuel isn’t meant to travel through the exhaust system. This is why exhaust valves shut down when fuel is injected into the combustion chamber, and they only open once exhaust fumes stay. Excessive fire-spitting can cause the exhaust valve to wear out quicker than usual.
If those valves are unable to close when the chamber is being injected with fuel, it creates a dip in engine compression. As a result, the car’s performance decreases drastically and the engine fails to operate properly. Your amazing performance car has now been ruined by a tune you did to make it cooler. The irony is baffling.
And rest assured, messing with a vehicle’s ECU will void the warranty immediately. So we suggest you save up before you even consider how to make flames come out of the exhaust.
Cost Of Repair
This will be determined by the kind of car you are trying to modify. And while burnt exhaust valves are a common phenomenon on tuned vehicles, the regular car may have them too. If you own a fairly affordable car, like the Subaru Outback, you may be looking at a price between $1,000 and $2,500 in repair expenses.
But if your car is something like an Audi R8 powered by a V10 engine, your pocket will surely feel the flames.
No matter which technique of these you choose to go with, it’s important to keep safety as your top concern. Turning your vehicle can be complicated and dangerous, often bringing unprecedented injuries. Make sure you know how every component operates to avoid unnecessary troubles.
For instance, keep the audience at least 30 feet away when doing this, particularly during the trial phase. And refrain from overdoing it. You are quite literally playing with fire! Leakages can lead to major damages.
This was all on how to make flames come out of the exhaust. Stay safe and have fun!