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How to Shop for the Best Headers

Why Your Ride Needs Aftermarket Headers

  • Your vehicle most likely came with exhaust manifolds. These parts do the same job as headers, but do not provide equal paths for gases leaving each exhaust port to follow, which are known as “primary tubes” or “runners”. Headers on the other hand are designed to balance engine exhaust flow by using equal length runners. This makes it easier for the engine as a whole to expel spent exhaust gases efficiently, which increases horsepower
  • Headers are often available in your choice of materials from mild to stainless steels, but will provide the same level of performance. While mild steel headers work great in dry areas, they can corrode in moist areas or when exposed to road salt. So if you spend most of your time driving in the rain or a winter wonderland, stainless steel headers are your ticket to long-lasting performance. And out of the most common stainless steel types available, T304 type stainless steel will provide the best corrosion resistance
  • If you have a cracked exhaust manifold, don’t run immediately back to the dealership for an exact, failure-prone replacement. Take a look at our headers first because they not only work much better than your original exhaust manifold and are more reliable—they might be a whole lot cheaper too

  • Shop for Performance Headers

Comparing Header Types

Shorty Headers

  • These headers generally have primary tubes less than 12” in length and do not extend further than the engine. They’re also known as “block huggers”
  • If you want a set of headers and need to get your ride smogged, a set of shorty headers is your only real choice. That’s because many shorty headers are 50-state (CARB) legal due to the fact that they leave your ride’s oxygen sensors in their original location and the headers themselves often bolt directly to your ride’s stock exhaust system flanges with no modifications needed. As a matter of fact, some shorty headers can be considered a “direct-replacement” for OEM exhaust manifolds
  • Due to their short runner length, short headers tend to increase horsepower and torque from low to mid RPMs, making them a great choice for trucks and daily drivers. You’ll even pick up a few MPGs with them if you can resist mashing the gas pedal

Long Tube Headers

  • Long tube headers are just what they sound like, with long primary tubes that merge into a larger tube called a “collector”, extending up to a foot behind the engine
  • This header type provides the best balance and flow of exhaust gases at mid to high RPMs, making them great for racing or any other application where maximum power is needed
  • Since they aren’t very efficient at low RPMs, long tube headers can make your ride feel sluggish when leaving stop lights or cruising around town, so for this reason, we recommend long tube headers are better suited for the track
  • Due to their design, you generally won’t find emissions legal long tube headers. So for daily driver use, you want to steer towards shorty headers

Header Features

  • Header primary tubes can merge into collectors in several different ways. This can be a 4-cylinder motor’s 4-2-1 header which features 2 primary tubes that merge together first and combine with a second set of merged primary tubes into a main collector. In the case of 4-2-1 headers, this configuration effectively shortens the runner lengths, which improves low-mid RPM power. Another more traditional long tube configuration that’s suited to mid-high RPM performance is a 4-1 header which routes 4 primary tubes into a single collector
  • When shopping for Headers, you’ll hear the terms “equal length” and “unequal length”. This refers to the length of the header’s primary tubes and when it comes to performance gains, you want to go with equal length headers whenever possible. Put it this way, your ride’s restrictive factory exhaust manifold is essentially an unequal length header
  • Some headers come with emissions ports built into them and you may wonder which style is better, with or without ports? The truth is it depends on your state’s emissions laws. If you don’t need emissions equipment in your state, you’ll make more power by removing your emissions gear and going with a set of headers without all of the extra air injection and EGR ports. But if you have to smog your ride in your state, going with a set of headers with all of the extra ports means you can ditch your horrible exhaust manifolds, pick up some horsepower and stay legal in the process

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