- Are custom headers difficult to build by myself?
- How do I calculate my header size?
- Why should I opt for a performance slip-on merge collector instead of a standard weld-on formed collector with my header build kit?
- What materials are commonly used in building exhaust headers?
- Should I wrap my exhaust headers with heat-resistant material?
- How do I ensure proper fitment and avoid clearance issues when installing custom exhaust headers?
- What are exhaust headers, and why are they important in a performance-oriented vehicle?
- Prop 65 Information
Q: Why should I opt for a performance slip-on merge collector instead of a standard weld-on formed collector with my header build kit?
Exhaust headers are commonly constructed from two main materials: mild steel and stainless steel. Mild steel headers are cost-effective but are more prone to rust and corrosion over time; these typically require either a quality coating such as ceramic coatings or high-temp paint, or the use of an aluminized mild steel. Stainless steel headers offer better durability and corrosion resistance, making them suitable for various applications. The most common stainless alloy used for stainless headers, whether off-the-shelf or custom stainless headers, is 304 stainless steel. It offers great affordability with excellent strength and corrosion resistance, suitable for most applications. For increased corrosion resistance in off-shore applications, or general marine work, 316 stainless steel is commonly used, as it has increased corrosion resistance while maintaining excellent strength, at a slightly greater expense. For lightweight headers or high temperature applications such as high-boost turbo systems, aerospace, petrochemical, or other extreme environments, alloys such as 321 Stainless Steel or the high-nickel alloys like 625 Inconel or 718 Inconel are often used. 321 stainless steel and the high-nickel alloys have increased nickel and titanium bonding molecules in the alloy, greatly increasing strength, temperature durability, thermal cycling, and vibration resistance. These are often used in thinner gauge header builds to keep a system lightweight without sacrificing strength or durability. However, these alloys do also come at considerably higher costs than their 304 stainless steel counterparts.
The decision to wrap exhaust headers with heat-resistant material depends on the specific application and personal preferences. Header wraps can help retain heat within the exhaust system, which may slightly improve exhaust gas velocity and reduce under-hood temperatures. However, they can also trap moisture and potentially accelerate corrosion of mild steel headers. If your engine or surrounding components leak oils or other fluids, these can also be trapped or absorbed into the wrap, creating a potential fire hazard over time. If you have good quality stainless steel headers, header wrap is not required to improve corrosion resistance or create a boundary layer, however it can still be beneficial for creating a thermal barrier, and lowering engine bay temperatures. It is strongly recommended to NOT wrap any ceramic coated headers, the coarse insulating fibers (fiberglass, carbon, titanium, or ceramic) that give the header wrap it's insulating properties, will vibrate and chafe your header coating, and eventually rubbing it off the header tubes completely.
We recommend a quality ceramic coating job rather than header wrap for nearly every application that a thermal barrier is desired. The ceramic coating is maintenance free, does not require wrap-planning to get around your collector or sensor bungs, and does not increase the overall size of the header in tight-clearance applications. The ceramic coating is also non-porous, giving it excellent corrosion resistance qualities to whatever material you apply it to, without absorbing or retaining moisture or fire hazard fluids such as oils and lubricants. The ceramic coating has a double-bonus option as well- any quality ceramic coating applicator should be able to apply the coating to a large portion of the INSIDE of your header as well. Whether the applicator is able to spray/fog the inside of the system, or use a 'dip & shake' method, adding an internal coating will help considerably with preventing heat soak of the parent metal and even further reducing under hood temperatures.
Q: How do I ensure proper fitment and avoid clearance issues when installing custom exhaust headers?
Exhaust headers are a set of tubes that collect exhaust gases from the engine's individual cylinders and direct them to the exhaust system. They play a crucial role in enhancing engine performance. By allowing each cylinder to expel exhaust gases freely without interference, headers reduce backpressure, improve exhaust scavenging, and increase overall engine efficiency. A properly designed & built header can result in significantly better horsepower, torque, and throttle response, especially in high-performance and racing applications.