Exhaust Headers

There are a lot of little known ways to enhance a vehicle’s performance, and exhaust headers are one of the more effective ways to do it. Installing exhaust headers into an engine can be fairly expensive, but no more than most other car modifications. If you’re trying to equip your car for high performance driving (mostly racing), ten exhaust headers can be extremely useful. They’re proven to give marked increases in performance, and they’re a modification that relatively few drivers take advantage of.

First, what are exhaust headers? In plain terms, they’re a different form of the exhaust manifold. In a stock engine, the intake manifold funnels air and fuel to the engine’s cylinders and the exhaust manifold collects the exhaust fumes from the cylinders into one pipe. Basically, the exhaust manifold removes heat, grime and air from the engine. It cools the engine and reduces noise and pollution. In the end, it pushes the exhaust into the catalytic converter and then into the muffler and out of the system.

The problem with exhaust manifolds is that they are usually made thin, and they don’t expel that air very well. Because of that, the engine has to actually push the air out of the engine, and this wastes power that the engine could be using to make the car go faster instead. So if you’re racing your car, your engine isn’t performing to its maximum capabilities as long as you’re using the stock manifold.

That’s where headers excel. Exhaust headers eliminate the back pressure that the manifold normally presses upon the engine. With a manifold, all of the cylinders are attached to the same device, and the overload from this process is what creates the back pressure. In exhaust headers, the cylinders all get separate pipes. These pipes are all cut to the same length, and they funnel into a collector. By cutting them the same length, the exhaust all leaves the engine equally and smoothly, so that there is no back pressure. This has the effect of boosting your engine’s power, since it no longer has to deal with the back pressure.

Installing exhaust headers is usually a pretty easy process, and even if you’re an amateur, you should be able to do it with no help or problem. It’s definitely a process you want to be careful about (you are dealing with explosive material, after all), but not one that that should take you more than a few hours. Usually, the installation process only involves disconnecting the battery, unbolting the manifold, and replacing and bolting the header in its place. Now, this can be an involved process, which is why it can take a few hours, but it’s nothing you can’t handle with a basic toolset and a good instruction booklet.

When you’re buying exhaust headers, the most important thing to remember is to verify the size you need it to be – that is, know the length you need for the pipes, and the diameter of the primary pipe. For the primary pipe, most normal 1,500 to 3,500 rpm street engines will need 1 ½ to 1 5/8 inch diameters. For the length, you want to make sure they’re about the same, varying no more than 2 or 3 inches, and even less for uncorked race cars. Of course, it should go without saying that they’ll need to fit. You’ll need to measure your engine compartment, and then talk directly to a customer service representative to get help for the fitting. Athough if you’re shopping online, many makers of exhaust headers actually make them specifically for certain makes and models, so if you’ve got a fairly new and common car, you should be able to get them made specifically for your car.

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