Car and Truck headers (or exhaust manifolds) may make your car sound louder, but they don’t increase the horsepower. You can think of a vehicle’s engine as an air pump. When you step on the accelerator pedal in your car, you are opening the throttle which increases the size of this airflow “pump”. This forces more air into the intake and allows more fuel to be added to create power (this is where people like to rev their engine). The mass flow rate of this increased volume of air is what makes your car faster.
However, this also means that when you close off or restrict part of that system, for example with a catalytic converter or muffler, the mass flow rate is decreased. Less fuel can be added to the airflow and less power is produced. The engine may sound a little different, but horsepower will not change. In fact, if you have “test pipes” these are actually removing the catalytic converter from the exhaust system, therefore increasing the mass flow rate and improving power output.
Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that headers or test-pipes will make your car faster, because they will only decrease performance. However if you want a sportier sounding car these aftermarket parts can help with that as well as appearance (headers look cool). Everything has its place!
What is a header and why do they make cars louder?
A header is an aftermarket part for a vehicle which usually mimics the design of OEM parts, but it’s made with less expensive material. It connects to the exhaust system and allows exhaust gases produced by the engine’s combustion process to flow into one or more individual tubes that are connected to merge into a common pipe. Headers are generally found on older vehicles with fewer emission control restrictions as well as some high performance cars where increased airflow improves power output by increasing gas mileage.
Car headers originally started off as being produced from mild steel, but manufacturers have discovered different grades of stainless steel have also proven effective in reducing sound levels while improving horsepower at the same time without sacrificing fuel economy. Other materials such as glass-pack muffler, nickel plated or ceramic headers are seen in extreme racing conditions to reduce overall weight while improving heat insulation.
Do Headers Make Your Car Sound Louder?
A header does not make your car sound louder, but it can improve the performance of your vehicle by increasing efficiency due to the improved flow of exhaust gases out of the engine components. A muffler is designed to reduce noise by slowing down gas particles as they travel through the constriction within its shell. Improving this flow will increase power output which sounds very similar to having a more powerful engine.
However, engines can only produce so much power regardless of how much air they’re processing at any given time since the size and speed of each piston stroke cycle period remains unchanged. You can think of a vehicle’s engine as a giant air pump, and increasing the size of this airflow “pump” is what makes your car faster.
Do headers increase engine power?
Headers do not increase engine power. You can think of a vehicle’s engine as an air pump. When you step on the accelerator pedal in your car, you are opening the throttle which increases the size of this airflow “pump”. This forces more air into the intake and allows more fuel to be added to create power (this is where people like to rev their engine). The mass flow rate of this increased volume of air is what makes your car faster.
However, this also means that when you close off or restrict part of that system, for example with a catalytic converter or muffler, the mass flow rate is decreased. Less fuel can be added to the airflow and less power is produced. The engine may sound a little different, but horsepower will not change.
When you remove the center muffler on your car to experiment with header lengths, you are experimenting with different gas velocities (which is why they make loud sounds), but this also means less restriction of the airflow which results in better performance. Even though power output may increase slightly after removing or repositioning your catalytic converter or center muffler, it does not actually enhance engine performance.
Manifold design and construction has evolved over time due to technological changes involving emissions control issues as well as racing conditions where restrictions had to be reduced without causing any problems like backfires. Opening up spaces within manifolds was necessary for efficient combustion of fuel mixtures that were rich in volatile hydrocarbons whereas reducing the number of bends increased gas flow rates for increased power output.
The pros and cons of adding headers to your car
Converting to headers does not improve engine power. Power output depends on the amount of air your vehicle’s engine can process for combustion during each cycle, and removing restrictions such as catalytic converters will increase gas flow rates and reduce backpressure (which is why they make a car sound like it has more power).
However there are other reasons that people choose to install headers onto their vehicles which include:
1. Improving the appearance of the engine bay by eliminating bulky plastic manifolds; replacing them with smooth metal tubes. This also applies if you’ve added camshafts or cold air intake systems which require additional space to fit properly.
2. Eliminating heat related problems such as burned exhaust gaskets caused by extreme heat from the engine block. Some headers are primary heat shields which means that they do not have a catalytic converter attached to them, and this is done for this purpose.
Another example is installing a 2-2-1 exhaust manifold instead of a 4-2-1 system on a V6 engine where there’s too much backpressure created within the smaller diameter center section of the tubing. This creates oscillation of pressure waves causing resonance. Installing a larger diameter header with less bends will decrease this effect as well as increase power output slightly since it won’t restrict gas flow rates as much as the OEM part.
However, some people install headers because their car looks cool even though it doesn’t enhance performance at due to modifying other parts of the exhaust system. In fact, if your car is not equipped from the factory with headers you probably won’t see any increase in power output after installing them either.
In conclusion, the luster of a sleek set of shiny headers may improve the appearance of your engine compartment and make your car sound more aggressive (who doesn’t like that?), but it doesn’t actually affect how much horsepower or torque it produces on the road. There’s plenty of evidence to indicate this whenever someone posts an article about their “header” installation which didn’t actually include the part that increases gas flow rates: header primaries (or collectors). A lot of people add these on because they allow for better routing and packaging of tubing; mainly when there’s not enough space between engine components to fit full length headers.
Tips for installing new headers on your vehicle
Installing headers requires the use of extra hardware so try to source this locally in order to save money. Try to buy them in sets with gaskets and bolts since they are intended for the same application so they will fit better than universal parts.
1) You’ll need longer bolts to connect headers to your vehicle’s exhaust system, and don’t forget gaskets. Installing the bolt from inside the engine bay is hard since access is limited so make sure you buy these in advance
2) If you want to improve gas flow rates even further without getting rid of the catalytic converter entirely then a less restrictive aftermarket high-flow cat is a good idea. Get a test pipe that allows for this in order to determine if your car can handle it before going through with it.
3) Professional installation requires lifting the entire car off the ground in order for this process to be done right which means lots of jack stands and floor jacks . Don’t try doing it yourself since gravity will hold the car down and it’s extremely hard to reach the bolts with a ratchet.
4) Don’t attempt to install headers yourself if they involve cutting or welding without proper experience since you can melt holes through your floor pans and cut wires in the engine bay by accident. This also applies to installing performance cams too which requires similar skill sets as those who work at machine shops
5) Installing one-off parts such as high flow cats is possible for some people but it may not be worth the risk since there are tons of different exhaust setups out there that have been customized specifically for certain cars. Performance gains don’t necessarily apply across all makes and models so you’ll have to look up dyno sheets beforehand just in case.
6) Installing headers can cause check engine lights for oxygen sensor fault codes to appear afterwards. This is due to the computer locating a disturbance in the air fuel ratios which tells it that certain parts of the exhaust system are missing or not connected properly . You’ll have to disconnect your car’s battery and erase these codes by using a diagnostic tool beforehand if you want to avoid annoying dealership visits.
7) If you install performance camshafts at the same time as new headers then your vehicle will suddenly sound much louder from inside of it since more of its exhaust gas flow rates will be heard. Even though it may improve acceleration slightly, try to use a free flowing muffler system with high-flow cats instead on this particular mod.
8) Installing headers with aftermarket parts may be necessary in some cases if you want to add things such as high-flow cats, free flow exhaust systems or throttle body spacers. You can try buying universal parts but they will most likely fail sooner than expected due to not having the same tolerances and materials for performance applications.
9) Installing racing headers is only recommended for dedicated race cars that aren’t driven on public roads and never raced on tracks with other cars . If you wanted a simple way of increasing horsepower then it is usually cheaper to install an aftermarket cold air intake system since it offers better gas flow rates at low engine speeds compared to full length headers.
Installing performance aftermarket headers is not a task that should be attempted by beginners since there are many risks associated with it. Some cars require extra brackets and adapters in order to avoid cutting a hole into part of the car’s floor pan or repositioning the catalytic converter for clearance issues . If you have any doubts then just leave this process up to professionals who know what they’re doing since you’ll save money from costly mistakes.