When it comes to modifying your exhaust or intake system, there are a number of components you can switch out. But, if you’re looking for the biggest performance improvements and power gains, there are some parts that deliver better results than others. Before you rush off to a complete overhaul, though, it’s important to know just how these parts work in order to decide what will deliver the best results. Here, we compare headers vs. manifolds to explain just how they work to improve your ride’s performance.
The benefits of exhaust headers
Exhaust headers are one of the easiest bolt-on modifications you can make. Headers make it easier for your engine to push exhaust gases out of the cylinders. Your vehicle’s engine produces all its power during the power stroke. During this stroke, the gasoline in the cylinder burns and expands to generate power. Once the exhaust gases vacate the cylinder, they end up in the exhaust manifold and then flow into one pipe toward the catalytic converter. The exhaust header helps eliminate the manifold’s backpressure. So, instead of a common manifold shared by all the cylinders, each cylinder gets its own exhaust pipe, and then they come together in a larger pipe called the collector.
Several brands craft performance headers that deliver maximum results, like Gibson and Bassani. These headers are made with the top-of-the-line materials and superior craftsmanship. Plus, they get the fumes out of your vehicle quicker, which in turn, gets your vehicle moving quicker.
The benefits of exhaust manifolds
Exhaust manifolds traditionally funnel spent exhaust gas from the engine. Purely utilitarian, these heavy chunks of cast-iron do their job adequately, but don’t exactly inspire performance. Horsepower and torque are sacrificed in the name of lower manufacturing costs and increased emissions, sapping acceleration from your ride. Even worse, some factory manifolds are prone to cracking, putting even the toughest trucks out of commission. A performance exhaust manifold, like the aFe BladeRunner Exhaust Manifold, wakes up your street machine with high-flow ductile iron or 304 stainless steel castings. This boosts your low-end grunt for towing and increases mileage when you’re just cruising. Performance exhaust manifolds are a great bolt-n-go part with very little maintenance needed, unlike headers that require re-tightening periodically.
The majority of exhaust manifolds are more akin to tubular exhaust headers with attached catalytic converters. Unfortunately, they’re not that reliable. Adding insult to injury, many drivers experience sticker-shock when the time comes to replace a cracked or failing factory manifold. Thankfully, a product like the PaceSetter Exhaust Manifold Catalytic Converter gives you an affordable option to replace a damaged manifold. With 16-gauge stainless steel construction, these American-made manifold/catalytic assemblies outlast the best OEM has to offer. On top of that, they’re designed to optimize exhaust flow, giving your ride better fuel economy and power. For a balance of leak-free reliability and a boost in power, a performance exhaust manifold can’t be beat.
The benefits of improving exhaust manifolds with performance headers & intake manifolds
A premium intake manifold is one of the most popular performance upgrades available. Intake manifolds play an important role — they provide the structural base for your vehicle’s fuel induction system. When you feed your engine more air and fuel, it’s able to produce more power. So, when you set your ride up with a high-quality intake manifold, you’ll notice a big boost in power and torque.
No matter how many go-fast goodies you bolt onto your ride, a restrictive factory exhaust manifold creates a performance bottleneck, robbing power and MPG. All internal combustion engines obey this one rule — fresh air can’t come in if spent exhaust can’t get out. The solution is to replace those clunky chunks of metal with a performance manifold, or a custom set of headers, which let your ride breathe freely. These high-flow gems crank out more juice than your stock manifolds and are built to last.
What performance part will improve your vehicle the best?
From long-tube headers to short-tube headers, there are several choices when it comes to styles and brands for your new performance parts. Whether you’re after manifolds or performance headers, be sure to check out the reviews for exhaust headers and intake manifolds on our site. Find out just what other consumers are saying about the various performance upgrades for your cat-back exhaust or performance intake. We make it easy for you to compare popular brands to find out which ones deliver the best results.