How To Choose the Right Exhaust Headers for Your Vehicle

How To Choose the Right Exhaust Headers for Your Vehicle

If you’re looking for a great way to improve your vehicle’s low to medium torque, an exhaust header may be the best mod for you. You can install these simple mods in your car to get more horsepower for both racing and street driving. That’s why headers are a great modification if you know how to choose the right one for your vehicle and needs.

What Are Exhaust Headers

The first thing you need to know is what headers are and the benefits they bring to your vehicle. At their core, headers are a part that connects to each of the engine’s cylinders to collect the exhaust gasses into one pipe so the gasses can flow quickly to the converter and muffler. This replaces the standard manifold system that collects all the exhaust simultaneously as it flows out of the cylinders.

What Are Manifolds

The exhaust manifolds are the collection spot in the system that collects the gas that leaves the engine’s cylinders. This then helps guide the gas away from the engine and out of the vehicle so the engine can continue safely and efficiently producing the torque your vehicle needs. Standard manifolds struggle with the engine's output, which slows down the process and hurts the engine's efficiency.

Relieving Pressure

A typical manifold will get the job done, but you’ll lose a lot of potential efficiency and horsepower. Putting in the proper exhaust header will help relieve a lot of the pressure that builds up in the manifold. If the gas can’t escape, the system will have a lot of back pressure and suffer from that excess gas. Headers make it much easier for gas to flow through the system quickly to relieve that pressure.

Increasing Horsepower

As there’s significantly less back pressure in the system with a good header, your vehicle will benefit as it can more efficiently use the cylinders. This is extremely important as back pressure in the system will slow down the cylinders and make the system work harder to achieve the same results as a good header on your car.

Anatomy of a Header

The main three parts of any header are the flange, the primaries, and the collector. The flange is the part that connects to the cylinders and the pipes that lead down into the primaries. The primaries are the tubes and pipes that connect the flange and the collector, carrying the gas away from the engine and to the collector. The collector is the base of the header where all the primaries conjoin and feed the gas to the muffler and out of the vehicle.

Choosing the Right Header for You

When it comes to picking out the best header for you, there are certain things you should look for. While a good header can significantly impact your vehicle, you need to get the right one to see any of those benefits. Otherwise, you’ll still suffer from the same or similar issues with manifold back pressure in your system.

Types of Headers

When you start looking into the headers you can choose from, you’ll find four main types available for most vehicles. It’s essential that you know the difference between these four headers so you can choose the right one for your needs. Here’s a deeper look into the different headers.

4-Into-1 Full-Length Headers

These headers use longer tubes than the stock pipes that come with your manifold. Using four pipes that feed into one main connector, these headers help increase power by getting gas out of your cylinders faster. This is perfect for most street vehicles as they improve torque at low to medium speeds.

4-Into-1 Shorty Headers

Like the full-length headers, these feature four pipes that feed into one connector to gather all the gasses. However, these pipes are far smaller in length, which is perfect if your engine compartment is already full of other parts or lacks space. These headers typically work with stock parts, so you don’t need to replace much else when choosing these headers. However, they don’t produce the same power as full-length headers at lower or medium ranges but produce a lot at high ranges.

Mid-Length Headers

This is the perfect blend of short and full-length headers as they offer an incredible amount of power in low and mid-range while still providing many of the benefits of the shorty headers. However, they don’t do either range as well as the other options so far, but they are great if you need something that improves performance overall without requiring as much room.

Tri-Y Long-Tube

These pipes feature a two-tiered system of pipes with collectors feeding into collectors. These are great as they offer significant torque at all driving ranges. However, they don’t specialize in anything and suffer when you get to extreme rpm over 8000.

Factors To Consider

When choosing a header for your vehicle, you need to consider many factors to find the right one. Manufacturers make headers to fit the exact engine model of your vehicle, which means you first need to match these to shop for the proper headers. For example, WRX and STI headers only work for the Subaru WRX. Here’s a list of the information you’ll need to know about your car:

  • Vehicle Make and Model
  • Engine Style
  • Drive Type
  • Transmission type
  • Shifter Type

Outside the type of vehicle, you need to also consider several things about what you want and choose between some of the significant differences between headers of the same type.

Purpose of Driving

When it comes to you and your vehicle, you need to be aware of what you will use the car for. A racer is going to want completely different modifications than someone who’s driving on the street. Knowing this should help you pick out your header.

Pipe Diameter

The diameter of the pipes can have a big influence on your header choice. While bigger pipes may seem like the right option, a thinner pipe has a higher gas velocity which can help get more power depending on why you’re driving.

Header Materials

Most headers are either steel or stainless steel. If you worry about costs, steel is cheaper and far more common for headers but less durable. Stainless steel can handle higher temperatures and take more of a beating, so it will last longer with the proper care.

This is everything that should be going on in your mind when you want to pick out a good header for your vehicle. Finding something that checks off all your needs is the key to buying a header and should be the main focus of your search.

How To Choose the Right Exhaust Headers for Your Vehicle