Why should I get performance exhaust headers?
But that's not all. When you equip your motor with some high-octane performance exhaust headers, you get:
- More horsepower and torque
- Improved fuel economy
- Amplified exhaust tone
- Reduced vehicle weight
- Lower engine compartment temperatures
- Daring looks
A quick tutorial on amplifying horsepower and torque
Why do performance exhaust headers pack such a mighty punch? The answer lies in how the pipes are shaped. Each twist and turn in the tubes is formed using a mandrel bender, an advanced tool that actually inserts a rod into the pipe before it's bent. This ensures a consistent internal diameter, so there are no restrictions for gasses to stumble over. This smooth flow also increases engine scavenging, the vacuum effect that draws exhaust fumes out of your cylinders, for greater efficiency and more power.
Another way that performance exhaust headers add bite to your gas pedal is by relieving backpressure. You see, spent gases created during combustion are pushed out of the cylinder and into the exhaust manifold. In a stock manifold, all the fumes flow into a single chamber, where they run into each other and fight over room. If the manifold clogs up, then the gas runs into resistance as it leaves the cylinder and your engine wastes energy (and fuel) compensating for the blockage. With a set of performance headers, each cylinder gets its own pathway, so the gas doesn't have to compete for space. All sections of pipe then merge into a collector, which links into the rest of the exhaust system. What's more, each piece of pipe is the same length, so the exhaust fumes flow into the collector at evenly spaced intervals instead of all at once.
Put it all together, and a set of performance exhaust headers can unleash an extra 5-25 horsepower and a big spike in torque, depending on your vehicle. Combine that with a performance cat-back exhaust, and you'll have even more power at your disposal.
Advice on improving fuel economy
It's often said that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Likewise, your engine can't run efficiently if any of its components are tripping up the process. One of the worst roadblocks is a stock exhaust manifold. This restrictive part creates deadly backpressure, which clogs up your cylinders and kills your miles per gallon. Moreover, it adds an unnecessary amount of extra weight that keeps your fuel gauge constantly spinning in the wrong direction. There is a solution—performance exhaust headers.
Engineered for efficiency as well as power, performance exhaust headers streamline the flow of spent gases from your engine. Plus, their steel construction shaves a few pounds off your vehicle's weight, lifting a load off your motor's shoulders. Taken together, these improvements will have your motor running more efficiently, so you can pass the pump. For even more tips on improving your fuel economy without sacrificing power, take a look at our gas mileage guide.
Tips on aggressive tone
Your engine's natural tone is menacing. Unfortunately, stock exhaust systems stifle this inherent roar, subduing it to an almost imperceptible peep. Performance exhaust headers help break the silence. Since the piping is not nearly as thick as factory-installed manifolds, there is less insulation to dampen out the guttural growl. When you bolt on a matching cat-back exhaust, you can further tune your engine to a distinct rumble.
A guide to weight reduction
Ever try jogging a mile while holding a 50-pound sack of cement? Unless you're training for a strongman competition, you wouldn't dream of subjecting yourself to that kind of needless toil. Extra weight makes us work harder to get the same job done, and the same is true for our vehicles. Unfortunately, most vehicles come from the factory bloated, and those excess pounds force engines to work double quick. Not only does this slow you down, but it also wastes gas.
Much of the surplus mass on your vehicle comes from clunky, cast iron parts, and one of the worst culprits is your stock exhaust manifold. These massive hunks of metal are incredibly dense and add unnecessary weight. Performance exhaust headers strip away the fat from your engine compartment. Crafted from lean steel instead of bulky iron, they deliver durability without the flab.
Hints on reducing engine compartment temperatures
It's inevitable that temperatures will rise under your hood, but an extreme buildup of heat can harm performance. Your motor thrives on oxygen, especially colder oxygen. That's because chilled air is denser, so it burns more efficiently. As the mercury rises in your engine compartment, the air flowing into your engine heats up, becomes less condensed, and does not combust as energetically.
While it's not practical to run an air conditioner in your engine compartment, you can cool things down with a set of performance exhaust headers. Their greater surface space and thinner walls allows heat to dissipate easily.
Learning about daring looks
Pop open the hood of most vehicles, and there's usually nothing exciting to feast our eyes on. More often than not, it's just a bland mix of oily plastic, rusty metal, and tangled wires. This is not the case for an engine compartment that's been dressed up with an aggressive pair of exhaust headers. With a set of these radical manifolds mounted on your motor, you'll look more like a dragster than a commuter. Available in numerous finishes, you can get everything from the attention-grabbing glint of chrome to the track-ready look of ceramic.
A few words on smog certification
There is a ritual that nearly all of us have to perform every year or so before we can re-register our vehicles: the smog certification. Besides measuring the levels of noxious fumes rolling out of our tailpipes, the smog technician also performs a visual inspection. He's checking for aftermarket parts that might be bypassing or altering pollution controls, like oxygen sensors or catalytic converters. As long as the performance accessories do not alter these smog-controlling systems, then you're in the clear.
Most of the performance exhaust headers at AutoAnything are 50-state street legal. In other words, they don't interfere with your onboard pollution controls and can pass a smog test in any state. How can you be sure that your performance headers are indeed 50-state street legal? The easiest way to know is to check our product descriptions. We'll tell you whether they are for street use or for off-road use.
Another way to know if your exhaust headers are 50-state street legal is when they come with a CARB EO number. CARB is an acronym for California Air Resource Board, a governor-appointed group that sets the limits on how much greenhouse gas your vehicle can emit. They are also in charge of testing and determining whether or not an aftermarket product meets their notoriously stringent requirements. For parts that pass, they get a CARB EO number, which is the board's seal of approval. For slick street use, slap on a set of Borla, Bassani or JBA headers.
We also carry performance exhaust headers which are designed for "off-road" use. These performance headers are specially made for smog-exempt vehicles, like older cars and dedicated racecars. If you are unsure about your vehicle's status, check with your local DMV. Trick out your track star or off-roading mayhem-mobile with the power-packed punch from Dynatech, Pacesetter and Edelbrock headers.
A handy guide to performance exhaust header coatings
Performance exhaust headers live under some of the most grueling conditions on your vehicle. They are constantly being seared, scorched and singed by the blistering-hot exhaust fumes chugging out of your cylinders. In order to withstand this punishing environment and to avoid corrosion, performance headers are treated with a number of different coatings. Here's a quick reference to the most common types of finishes:
High Temperature Paint:
One of the most basic performance exhaust header coatings is high temperature paint. It lays down an effective barrier against moisture infiltration that can lead to rust. Plus, it's specially formulated to resist cracking, peeling and flaking. Though not as durable as some of the other coatings, high temperature paint is a cost-effective alternative. It's good for mild street use. Pacesetter specializes in this particular finish.
Cars and chrome go together like wrenches and toolboxes—it's just a natural fit. For a dazzling dose of chrome under the hood, the nickel-chrome coating is right up your alley. While chrome adds an eye-catching shine, the nickel works to ward off oxidation. Over time and under heavy-duty loads, the polish will discolor slightly. This coating is recommended for mild street use. Get your chrome exhaust headers from JBA Headers, Doug Thorley Headers or Bassani.
Stainless steel exhaust headers do not have a coating. Instead, their resistance to rust and heat comes from the metal itself. There are two types of stainless steel used in performance headers: 409 and 304. The difference is that 304 has more chromium than 409, so it is stronger and is not as prone to corrosion. Both grades of stainless can bear high temperatures, but each type will lose its luster eventually. Stainless steel performance exhaust headers are ideal for mild and moderate street use, as well as for towing. For stainless steel, check out Dynatech, JBA Headers, DC Sport, Gibson or Borla headers.
Don't let the name fool you—we're not talking about dainty porcelain vases. For the ultimate in corrosion resistance and thermal protection, ceramic coatings are the way to go. The rugged shell is actually baked onto the performance exhaust headers in a red-hot oven. Once cured, the ceramic coating can hold up against the most brutal heat and block against the most insidious rust. Many manufacturers produce their own unique blends of ceramic coatings with either shiny or matte finishes. This type of coating is ideal for serious street performance, heavy-duty towing, and racing uses. Ceramic coatings are used by most exhaust headers companies, including JBA Headers, Pacesetter, Doug Thorley Headers, DC Sport, Gibson, Bassani and Edelbrock
Some auto accessories are easier to install than others. A wireless radar detector, for example, takes mere minutes to setup, but a lift kit can take a whole weekend. Performance exhaust headers take more time than a radar detector and less than a lift kit to mount. For a seasoned garage rat with the right tools, a sturdy set of floor jacks, and an able-bodied helper, it should only take a couple of hours to bolt performance exhaust headers into place.
In general, performance exhaust headers are designed to tie right into your stock exhaust system or performance cat-back exhaust. Some minor modifications may be needed for select performance headers, but this is rare. Here are a few suggestions that should make your installation run smoothly:
- Never work on a hot exhaust system. Allow your vehicle ample time to cool down before you start working to avoid burns.
- Take a picture of your engine compartment before you start disconnecting things. That way, you can have something to reference if you forget where a wire or hose goes during the reinstall.
- Be sure to use a torque wrench when tightening the performance exhaust header's bolts. Start with the center bolts and work your way out to the sides for a leak-free fit.
- Go back and re-torque the header bolts periodically. The vibration of the engine can loosen the bolts and cause leaks, but the occasional turn of the wrench will keep them snug on your motor.
Which performance exhaust headers are right for me?
A moody French existentialist once argued that all mankind is doomed to the freedom of having to make choices and of having to bear the responsibility of their decisions. At AutoAnything, we see choice in a much more positive light. That's why we've brought together a large selection of high-quality performance exhaust headers for you to choose from. To streamline your selection, ask yourself these helpful questions:
- Do you already have a performance cat back exhaust system?
- What look do you want?
- How hard will you be pushing your vehicle?
- Is your vehicle smog exempt?
Do you already have a performance cat back exhaust system?
Many exhaust manufacturers make matching performance exhaust headers for their cat back exhausts. Usually, they are tested and tuned together, so pairing them up generally gives you maximum performance gains.
- If you already have a performance cat-back exhaust system, get a set of exhaust headers from the same manufacturer.
- When performance exhaust headers are your first exhaust upgrade, pick a set with the features you're looking for.
What look do you want?
Eye-candy is not just for our vehicles' exteriors or cockpits. More and more, our engine compartments are becoming prime real estate for stylish accessories. Unlike any billet door handle or leather steering wheel cover, these under-the-hood upgrades add performance as well as distinct looks.
- When you want to capture that NASCAR look, get a set of performance exhaust headers with a ceramic coating. This is what the professionals use, and imitation is the best form of flattery.
- For an engine compartment that already houses some performance upgrades, get a pair of headers with a matching finish. Many cold air intake kits, for example, use a polished metal pipe or a black piece of tubing. Performance headers with a complimentary coating will make your motor look like a custom-built powerplant.
- For a more attention-grabbing appearance, go with a set of nickel-chrome or stainless steel performance exhaust headers. The brilliant shine of these performance accessories stands out dramatically on any motor.
How hard will you be pushing your vehicle?
We all have our own driving habits. Some of us like to get a quick jump off the line and then cruise the rest of the way. Others see no difference between the highway and the Indianapolis 500, weaving in and out of traffic and opening the throttle at every opportunity. It's important to pick a pair of performance exhaust headers that match your level of lead-footedness.
- For the casual commuter who wants a more responsive gas pedal, get a set of performance exhaust headers with a painted or nickel-chrome finish. These coatings are ideal for mild motoring.
- For haulers and more spirited drivers, the stainless steel or ceramic performance exhaust headers are designed to withstand this harsher treatment.
- If you plan on hauling a 5th-wheel trailer or spending any time at the track, ceramic performance exhaust headers are the only way to go. They are specifically engineered for life in the fast lane.
- For vehicles running nitrous oxide, stainless steel or ceramic performance exhaust headers are a must. The laughing gas makes your engine run hotter, and these rugged coatings are the best at handling the sizzle.
Is your vehicle smog exempt?
Automobiles have been around for over a century, but smog controls have only been in place for about thirty years. Nearly all late-model vehicles have some form of pollution control equipment installed, but classics are not burdened with this extra gear. Because performance exhaust headers can affect your ability to pass a smog test, be sure to get a set that complies with your local laws.
- For vehicles that require smog certification, get a set of 50-state street legal performance exhaust headers. That way, you won't have to worry about some mechanic hassling you about questionable hardware.
- If your vehicle is a dedicated racer, off-roader or simply old enough to be smog exempt, then you can choose any kind of performance exhaust headers you want.
- When in doubt about your vehicle's smog status, check with your local DMV or DOT before making a decision.
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