Having shiny, chrome-plated pipes in your exhaust system-from the collector pipe down to the tail spout-is useless if your exhaust manifold already has cracks and leaks. Aside from leaks, faulty castings also indicate a damaged manifold. If you notice these signs, you should immediately check and possibly replace the component.
The manifold for exhaust is a system of tubes and channels that guide the exhaust gases from the cylinders' ports toward the exhaust pipes and eventually out of the exhaust system. In some cases, the manifold is designed to also serve as a mounting area for the oxygen sensors. Usually made up of cast iron, steel, or aluminum, exhaust manifolds also protect other parts in the engine compartment by simply directing the exhaust gases away. If you don't know, exhaust gases can cook up your engine components-and that's not to mention that they still sometimes ignite due to traces of unburned fuel. That's why it's important to regularly inspect the manifold for cracks and leaks.
Just as long as you ensure that your exhaust manifold is in tiptop shape, you'll have less to worry about your exhaust system. If you're getting a new manifold, you might as well get manifold gaskets to ensure proper sealing with the cylinder head. And, of course, get them only from auto stores with the technical know-how. This way, your exhaust system would deserve your fly-looking exhaust components.