How Exhaust Headers Improve Your Vehicle's Performance

Exhaust headers are devices that allow you a small increase in the amount of performance of your car by helping to relieve back pressure of exhaust, allowing the cylinders of your engine to operate more efficiently.

How Do Exhaust Headers Work?

To understand how exhaust headers work, it is important to understand the basics of an exhaust system without exhaust headers. The cylinders produce exhaust during combustion. In a normal exhaust system, they push the exhaust back into the manifold. In this system, however, before exhaust is released through the tailpipe, it places back pressure in the cylinders from behind, making them have to work harder. This actually creates a decrease in the performance of your car.

Exhaust headers, on the other hand, provide a better solution. They aid in the ability to remove exhaust from the cylinders in a way that prevents this back pressure. Each cylinder has what amounts to its own exhaust pipe that removes the exhaust as each cylinder fires. Without the back pressure, the performance you would be losing otherwise is instead gained. Depending on the type of exhaust header you install, you could gain anywhere from 6 to 18 horsepower.

Types of Exhaust Headers

Depending on your need, there are a few exhaust headers to choose from.

Low performance exhaust headers appeal to drivers who want additional performance driving around town or those who need performance while hauling heavy loads.

High performance exhaust headers work best for those looking for more speed on the open road.

Small block headers use tubes that are 1 3/8 inch while big block headers are a little larger—at 1 3/4 inches.

Exhaust headers also come in a variety of thickness. Good quality exhaust headers are those between 14 and 18-gauge.

Exhaust headers can be made out of either mild-steel or stainless steel. Stainless steel exhaust headers will not rust, but can be a bit pricey. If you choose to go with a mild-steel exhaust header, they can be coated with ceramic coat or paint designed to sustain high-temperature. If your exhaust headers come pre-painted, don’t be fooled. If the paint is not designed to withstand high temperatures, it can be burned away pretty quickly.

Dangers to Consider

If you install exhaust headers on your car, you need to make sure they are installed correctly. Improperly installed exhaust headers can cause exhaust leaks. If exhaust leaks into the cabin of the car it can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, which can cause some serious health threats. If you don’t feel comfortable installing the exhaust headers yourself, consider hiring a professional to set them up for you.

While the performance exhaust headers provides your car is small, when added up with the minor performance boosts providing with other additions to your car, you can get the most out of your engine. Exhaust headers are a wise choice to install to help your engine operate more efficiently. Make sure that you purchase the proper exhaust headers for your make and model.