Intercooler Design Showdown: Bar And Plate Vs. Tube And Fin

Have you been thinking about installing an exhaust cutout on your ride to unleash those rumbling horsepower gains you’ve worked so hard for? Before you dive under the hood, you’ve got an important decision to make—what type of intercooler core are you going with? The two most popular options for performance builds are the bar and plate intercooler or the tube and fin intercooler. Each has its pros and cons, so let’s break them down so you can determine the best choice for your setup. Whether you’re looking to shave seconds off your quarter mile time or just want that classic muscle car sound, the right intercooler can make a huge difference. Ready to feel the roar? Then read on, gearhead, as we delve into the nitty gritty of intercooler designs. By the end you’ll know exactly what’s going under your hood.

What Is an Exhaust Cutout?

An exhaust cutout is a valve installed in your vehicle’s exhaust system that allows you to open or close the exhaust pipe after the catalytic converter. When open, it dumps your exhaust gasses directly out, bypassing the muffler. This results in a louder, more aggressive sound from your exhaust.

Many performance enthusiasts install cutouts to get the best of both worlds – a normal, quiet exhaust sound for daily driving, then flip a switch to open the cutout for a roaring, rumbling sound at car shows or on the track. Cutouts are commonly installed on muscle cars, sports cars, trucks and SUVs.

To install a cutout, you’ll need to cut your exhaust pipe after the catalytic converter and weld in the cutout valve. You’ll also need to mount the cutout actuator, which is the switch or remote that opens and closes the valve. Most cutouts are electric solenoid-operated or vacuum actuated.

When shopping for a cutout, consider:

  1. Pipe diameter – Get one sized for your specific exhaust size.
  2. Valve type – Electric or vacuum. Electric is more common and convenient but requires wiring.
  3. Sound level – Louder isn’t always better. Get one appropriately matched to your vehicle and goals.
  4. Build quality – Higher quality cutouts will last longer and leak less. Cheaper ones can fail or rattle over time.
  5. Ease of installation – Look for a straightforward design with all parts and instructions included.

With the right exhaust cutout, you can have the best of both worlds – a quiet daily driver and a roaring beast when you want it. Open up that valve and let your engine roar!

Intercooler Designs: Bar and Plate vs. Tube and Fin

When it comes to intercooler designs, you’ve got two main options: bar and plate vs tube and fin. Both have their pros and cons, so let’s break down how they work to help you choose the right one for your build.

Bar and Plate Intercoolers

Bar and plate intercoolers contain flat metal plates with hollow sections that the charged air flows through. They’re simple, durable, and highly efficient since the air travels unrestricted. However, they tend to be on the pricey side and can be quite heavy. If cost or weight are a concern, tube and fin may be a better choice.

Tube and Fin Intercoolers

Tube and fin intercoolers contain metal tubes with fins attached that help dissipate heat. Air flows through the tubes, and the fins absorb and remove heat. These tend to be lighter and more affordable but aren’t quite as efficient since the fins restrict air flow. The fins are also more prone to damage.

At the end of the day, bar and plate intercoolers are ideal for maximum cooling performance while tube and fin can work great if you’re on a budget or want to minimize weight. For most applications, a quality tube and fin intercooler should work perfectly fine. But if you plan to seriously boost your power, the extra investment in a bar and plate intercooler is probably worth it. The choice is yours – just make sure you get an intercooler properly sized for your engine setup!

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Which Intercooler Design Is Best for You?

When it comes to intercooler designs, you have two main options: bar and plate or tube and fin. Choosing between them comes down to your specific needs and budget.

Bar and Plate Intercoolers

Bar and plate intercoolers feature flat, rectangular plates with hollow spaces in between for air flow. They’re very efficient at cooling intake air since the large, flat plates provide maximum surface area contact. However, their boxy shape and dense construction means they tend to be more expensive and heavier.

Bar and plate intercoolers are ideal if your top priorities are maximum cooling efficiency and performance. They work well for high-boost applications where intake air temperatures are extreme. The added cost and weight are less of a concern if your build is focused on track performance. For casual street driving or budget builds, the extra expense of a bar and plate intercooler may not make sense.

Tube and Fin Intercoolers

Tube and fin intercoolers have aluminum fins attached to oval-shaped tubes. They’re lighter, more compact and budget-friendly than bar and plate intercoolers. However, their rounded tube shapes and finned design make them slightly less efficient at cooling intake air.

Tube and fin intercoolers provide a good balance of performance and affordability for most applications. They cool sufficiently for moderate street driving while still being light enough for casual track days. If you’re on a tight budget or want to avoid adding too much extra weight to your vehicle, a tube and fin intercooler is an excellent choice.

In the end, you need to weigh your priorities and determine how much you can spend. Bar and plate intercoolers provide the best performance, tube and fin offer the best value. Choose the one that fits your needs and you’ll end up with an intercooler design that’s perfect for you.


So there you have it, the pros and cons of the two most popular intercooler designs. As with most performance parts, it comes down to your specific needs and budget. If maximum cooling and durability are priorities, the bar and plate is probably your best bet. But if cost-effectiveness and simplicity are bigger concerns, the tube and fin style should work great. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you end up with an intercooler that helps your turbocharged ride reach its full potential while staying reliable. Now get out there and put that new intercooler to the test! The open road is calling.

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