What Are Exhaust Headers?

Working on an aftermarket, custom exhaust system is one of the best things you can do for your vehicle. (And trust us, at Performance Muffler we’ve been a top custom exhaust shop in the Phoenix area for 15 years, so we certainly know our exhaust systems.) The more attractive and popular upgrades include cat-back exhausts and muffler deletes. But one, easy upgrade you’re likely forgetting is exhaust headers. 

Exhaust headers increase horsepower by reducing exhaust restrictions and supporting scavenging. Most headers are an aftermarket upgrade, but some high-performance vehicles come with headers. You’ll spot them on race cars and hot rods, and with a quick addition an exhaust header can be on your ride too. 

Understanding Exhaust Headers

We briefly mentioned what the purpose of exhaust headers is, but let’s dive more into its dual objective. 

Reducing Exhaust Restrictions

Simply, exhaust headers increase horsepower because they’re a larger diameter of piping. Larger pipes transmit gasses from the engine through the exhaust piping under and out the car more quickly. Getting gasses out fast decreases pressure build up throughout the exhaust system and allows the car to function well. Enhancing the size of exhaust piping plays a significant role for your entire vehicle. 

Supporting Scavenging

Some gearheads understand what scavenging is, but we assume most drivers don’t. Scavenging is replacing spent gasses in the engine cylinder with fresh air and fuel. The pistons rotate to create power similar to an air pump. This process causes multiple explosions of air and fuel to be sprayed as a fine mist. Exhaust headers expedite the process that a vehicle expels spent gasses, increasing horsepower.

How Are Exhaust Headers Different from the Exhaust Manifold?

Some drivers may wonder how exhaust headers are different from the manifold, because the exhaust manifold funnels gasses from the cylinders to the catalytic converter. It’s true they serve the same purpose, but they’re two different components. 

Exhaust manifolds come straight from the factory and are not an aftermarket upgrade. They’re made from thick cast iron, a durable and inexpensive material. Manifolds have short inlets, which distribute air to the engine’s cylinders. 

On the other hand, headers are made from thin-walled stainless steel tubing, and their tubes are the same length. They’re designed larger to accelerate the flow of exhaust gasses. Plus, headers create less backpressure than manifolds. 

Types of Exhaust Headers

To understand a little more about exhaust headers, let’s break down the main types that exist:

  • Long-tube headers: suitable for low-end and mid-range torque, these headers have four tubes to merge into one collector. 
  • Shorty headers: these headers are less noisy than long tube headers. They’re suitable for upper RPM range and merge into one single exhaust at a shorter distance. 
  • Lakester headers: consisting of short primary tubes, these headers are popular in old hot rod cars. 
  • Tri-Y headers: as you expect, these headers have a “Y” shape to scavenge air. They generate the highest horsepower than any other design.  

Exhaust Header Benefits

You might be wondering still whether or not an exhaust header is worth it. On top of the increased horsepower, you’ll also notice these benefits with an exhaust header:

  • Better rate of exhaust flow
  • Improvement in your car’s sound
  • Elimination of back pressure within your exhaust system
    • Which is primarily the case of just an exhaust manifold 

Contact Performance Muffler to Improve Your Vehicle with Exhaust Headers

If you’re looking to enhance your vehicle’s horsepower with an easy addition, then exhaust headers are the solution for you. Contact Performance Muffler for a free quote to improve your exhaust system. We also specialize in general exhaust repairs and replacements, catalytic converters, and cat-back systems

About Performance Muffler 

Performance Muffler is your go-to car shop for custom exhaust work. We have locations in Phoenix, Peoria, and Glendale, and we’ve been transforming vehicles since 2007. We understand that your car is more than just a way to get around; that’s why we’re a garage for people who “get it.” 

Visit our website to learn more of how we stand out with our passionate service. Or, read through our blog for other automotive insight and advice

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