Your engine produces gases, and your exhaust system routes them out of your vehicle—but your stock system may be creating backpressure that gums up the works. Stock manifolds feature thick walls, restricting the space exhaust gases travel through. Read on to learn how installing exhaust headers improves performance and address that issue.
How Headers Work
Exhaust headers replace your manifolds (the first part of your exhaust system). Each exhaust port gets its own tube when you install headers, and these tubes come together in a collector. Headers utilize material that is stronger and thinner than your stock manifolds. The thinner construction and the fact that headers have longer tubes creates a scavenging effect that pulls out gases faster.
While this process eliminates backpressure and increases horsepower, don’t expect too much gain. Depending on the headers and your vehicle, you could see anywhere from a four to ten-point increase in horsepower: nothing to write home about, but nothing to sneeze at, either.
The Installation Process
You’ll want a deep socket wrench as well as a little mechanical background to try installing headers yourself, but it’s far from impossible. Consider asking a buddy to come over to assist, as having a partner will make everything simpler.
Different headers will require specific installation instructions, but you should know a few tried-and-true tips. For instance, you should remember to tighten and torque your bolts in an outward spiral to ensure an even attachment.
The final thing you need to think about is legality. While this may not seem like a crazy upgrade, it can impact your emissions. If you’re only planning to take your car out on the racetrack, you don’t need to worry. Otherwise, you’ll need to look for headers that will still pass the emissions test before taking your vehicle out on public roads.
Now that you know how installing exhaust headers improves performance, grab a friend and take a day for your next big upgrade!