Do Headers Add Horsepower – Rev Up Your Car Today!

by Conner Mckay

Do headers add horsepower? That’s what this post is all about. Headers enable cars to easily expel exhaust gases burned in the cylinder of an inner combustion engine to draw in clean air. You’d find it in most cars, which helps to enhance the operation of the car engine. Also, the exhaust header helps to remove the back pressure generated in the manifold.

Again, if you love cars with high acceleration, you may consider adding horsepower to your engine. Remember that speed and power work hand in hand. Likewise, In trying to improve your horsepower and increase the speed, you’ll need to add headers to your engine. Most car owners who desire high-speeding cars go for it.

Also, the toxic gases that headers help to eliminate from the engine boost its efficiency and intensify the power and torque. In this article, we’ll be discussing whether headers add horsepower. Also, you’ll learn about the usefulness of headers, the cost of it, and different types to know the one suitable for your car. The information gathered in this article will help you make an informed decision to purchase the right one.

What Are Headers

The header is a stainless steel bolt-on accessory installed in cars that helps to boost your engine’s performance. It is a component of the exhaust assembly of your car, and this helps to expel exhaust gases from the cylinder. Also, it minimizes the back pressure in the exhaust manifold.

Again, both four-cylinder and eight-cylinder engines make use of one manifold. The gases that these cylinders release are deposited in the exhaust manifold. However, these gases accumulate in the manifold, causing back pressures that affect other cylinders using the manifold. Hence, this gives rise to installing headers on a car to eradicate back pressure from the manifold.

Furthermore, since the cylinders have a conventional manifold, know that every cylinder has an exhaust pipe with a header. That is to ensure less pressure build-up in the manifold. Also, these exhaust pipes meet together at the end to form a very large pipe called the collector.

The manufacturers usually cut and bend the pipes to achieve a uniform length. And the purpose of maintaining the same length is to ensure that the gases released into the collector through the exhaust pipes are evenly spaced out. That will help to avoid back pressures.

Do Headers Add Horsepower

Also, to determine how much hp do headers add? You’ll notice an increase in the power and speed of your engine once you install a header. In the absence of headers, the velocity decreases as speed fairly increases because of low air circulation in the engine.

However, the installation of headers allows circulation of fresh air in the engine, and this increases the velocity and acceleration or speed of the engine. Thus, do headers add horsepower? Certainly, they do because you’ll notice a significant increase in the speed of your car.

Headers can be cost-effective in the future. Since they aid good airflow in the engine, which makes it more efficient, you may not need to purchase air filters regularly to have fresh air circulation. That could help reduce some costs for you.

Uses Of Headers

Performance headers play a big role in vehicles. It is used to eliminate back pressure built-up from the exhaust manifold. It helps to push burnt exhaust gases from the cylinders. Again, it reduces the vehicle’s flow resistance and increases the velocity of your car engine. That, in turn, improves the power and speed performance of your car.

Also, do headers add horsepower to your car engine? Yes, it does; this is one of the main uses of headers. If you desire more acceleration in your car, then you’d need to install a header on your car.


Types Of Headers

We have two major kinds of headers; long tube headers and short tube headers. The amount of space in the engine area of your car determines the type of header to install. Also, most performance cars use a particular type of header to accelerate faster. Read on to discover which is best for your car.

Long Tube Headers

This set of headers possesses long, different tubes that connect at the end into a larger tube called the collector. Long tube headers are pricey and aren’t easy to install. It’s quite bulky and occupies more space. Some cars and engines with little space may not be able to install this kind of header because of its size. Because of this, you might end up opting for a manifold or a short tube header.

Cars with this type of header are suitable for race tracks because of their increase in speed and power. Also, several companies manufacture long tube headers for race cars because it helps them to easily increase speed and move as fast as possible while racing. Performance cars specifically make use of this performance header because it helps to increase power.

Furthermore, other cars with some upgrades in their performance and with large space can also install this header to measure up with the upgrade. Thus, do long tube headers add horsepower? Of course, they do. Once you install it, you’ll notice an increase in speed. And how much hp do headers add? The long tube header can add as much as 10 – 20 horsepower to your car. Oh goodness! That’s a huge one.

Short Tube Headers

The short tube headers have smaller-sized tunes than the long tube headers. That is one of the significant differences between them. Again, It’s very beneficial because it’s not a heavy kind of header, unlike the long tube header. Also, most current cars make use of shorty headers; why?

Because it doesn’t consume much space in your car and engine. Besides, it’s easy to install due to the connection it has with common exhaust flanges. Furthermore, short tube headers have less horsepower than long tube headers. Also, it’s cost-effective compared to the long tube header, which is expensive.

Do shorty headers add horsepower? Certainly, they do, but in a lesser range of about 8 – 15 horsepower in addition to your car and engine. It may not be as powerful or rev-friendly as a long tube header. Rest assured that it’ll give your car the maximum speed and energy it needs to perform excellently.

Again, different cars by various companies have particular kinds of shorty headers they install in their cars. For example, the new and old performance cars make use of Borla’s stainless steel exhaust headers. For Ford cars, the Pontiac Chrysler V8 engine uses performance headers made by Magnaflow (they also make catalytic converter). This particular header is made of stainless steel but coated with ceramic.

Formation Of Header Pipes

The formation of headers can be in 3 pipes or 4 pipes. The joining of 3 pipes together into a large pipe known as a collector is called 3 into 1 design. In the same vein, the joining of 4 pipes together into a large collector pipe is called a 4 into 1 design. However, most cars make use of the 4 into 1 formation of a header, and it’s one of the predominant designs.

Additional formation of headers is the Tri-Y design. The majority of exhaust headers take the Y form shape, and all the tubes meet together at the large collector tube. Note that all these forms of headers have quality scavenging impact, which increases the horsepower, torque, and RPM of your car.

What Are Headers Made Of

There are different materials used in constructing the exhaust headers. Thus, the quality of the material determines its durability and performance. Inferior material could result in rusting (you can learn more in our write-up on how to stop rust on a car), and this is one of the major issues in headers. Some of the materials used in making headers include:

Do Headers Add Horsepower, Materials #1: Stainless steel

This is one of the commonest materials used in making headers because its resistant to corrosion. Your stainless steel exhaust header can last very long without rusting. Again, when exposed to heat for a long period, the head flange area can turn blue. Stainless steel headers with ceramics coating are advised if your car engine drives at high temperatures and high RPMs.

Do Headers Add Horsepower, Materials #2: Cast Iron

Headers made of cast iron are always heavy, most times heavier than headers made of stainless steel or titanium. It’s a cost-effective header and can absorb heat more than others. Also, it serves as a protection to other parts of the car that might get affected by heat emissions from headers.

Manufacturers like Hooker construct cast iron exhaust manifolds, while Drake constructs exhaust headers made from cast iron too.

Do Headers Add Horsepower, Materials #3: Traditional Steel

Traditional steel headers stand the risk of corrosion if not properly coated with high temperature and moisture resistant coating. You may adopt the ceramic type of coating for high-temperature engines. Recoat your stainless-painted header regularly to avoid rusting.

Again, some manufacturers that construct traditional steel headers are BBK traditional steel CNC-Series headers and Gibson Performance Headers. However, Gibson constructs both stainless steel and traditional steel headers and coats them with chrome or ceramic.

Do Headers Add Horsepower, Materials #4: Titanium

Titanium is more durable and less heavy than other forms of materials used for construction. Most times, they use titanium to construct exhaust headers installed in airplanes and jets. However, some performance vehicles make use of titanium headers. Again, it resists corrosion (does not rust) and operates adequately on very high temperatures without breakdown.

Headers VS Manifold

The exhaust pipes are into two popular categories, which are headers and manifolds. The performance of both exhaust pipes depends on how they are constructed. Although, headers and manifolds have their pipes connected to the cylinder of your car engine.

#1. In comparing headers vs. manifolds, headers are more expensive than manifolds. They are separately connected to a cylinder at a time. That is, every cylinder has a single pipe attached to it. Also, these pipes assemble into a bigger pipe known as the collector and from there to the catalytic converter. They make a lot of noise in the car engine and are somehow difficult to install in a car.

#2. Furthermore, headers are structured into the same size and are always bent to achieve the same length when they meet at the collector. That also enables them to equally expel burnt gases and also helps to get rid of back pressure from the manifold. Headers are bigger than manifolds; some are long while some are short.

#3. Again, headers have a more scavenging effect than exhaust manifolds. That makes it more beneficial than a manifold. But do headers add horsepower? Yes, it adds horsepower to your car engine for optimum efficiency in operation. Additionally, manufacturers usually construct headers with stainless steel, traditional steel, or titanium.

#4. Manifolds are less expensive than headers. They are built as one pipe, and all the cylinders connect to this single pipe. Most manufacturers install more manifolds in cars, and it’s simpler to install than exhaust headers. Also, It makes less noise and doesn’t have a good scavenging effect like the exhaust headers. Making it less beneficial.

#5. Again, manufacturers usually construct manifolds with cast iron. And this enables them to resist emissions of heat and pressure from the exhaust easily. Cast iron manifolds are heavier and last longer when compared to headers. One challenge with manifolds constructed with cast iron is that they crack more easily than the header’s stainless steel.

Pros And Cons Of Headers And Manifolds

Both headers and manifolds have advantages and disadvantages. Although they function similarly, each adds horsepower differently. Choosing between headers or manifolds depends on what you want to use your car for.

Pros Of Headers: Do Headers Add Horsepower

  1. Headers are used to remove back pressures built up in the manifold.
  2. It helps to increase the speed of a car (high revving). It also promotes easy exhaust flow from your car engine.
  3. Headers are incredible for turbos.
  4. It aids in the optimum performance of your car engine. It also makes your car sound smooth.
  5. Headers add horsepower of about ten to twenty units to your car.

Cons Of Headers: Do Headers Add Horsepower

  1. It is noisier than the manifold, and this happens as a result of the thinness of the pipes.
  2. Once there’s a constraint in the large collector pipe, the header finds it difficult to function properly.
  3. It’s rather expensive.

Pros Of Manifolds: Do Headers Add Horsepower

  1. It is mainly made of cast iron, and because of that, it soaks up heat more than headers.
  2. It’s not noisy.
  3. The rate of emissions is much lower in manifolds.
  4. Manifolds are cost-effective.

Cons Of Manifolds: Do Headers Add Horsepower

  1. The thickness of manifolds results in little space within, and this makes it difficult for exhaust gases to go through.
  2. Also, the thick body of the manifold decreases the operation and performance of your car.
  3. Manifolds experience a build-up of back pressures


Long Tube VS Short Tube Headers

In considering long tube vs. short tube headers, there are several advantages and disadvantages of either long tube or short tube headers. Both work effectively and efficiently to improve the speed and performance of your car. However, the amount of speed and power each adds to your car varies. That brings us to determine the pros and cons of long tube vs. short tube headers.

Pros Of Long Tube Headers

  1. Long tube headers ensure the very high performance of your car, more than a shorty will do. It also eradicates back pressures built up by manifold.
  2. They are the best option for achieving a higher RPM in your car. They’re perfect for high-revving cars and track racing cars as well.
  3. This header increases the sound of your car.
  4. Long tube headers work well with supercharged exhaust or stock.
  5. It gains more power than shorties and allows your engine to breathe better. This, in turn, prolongs the life of your engine.

Cons Of Long Tube Headers

  1. It’s not legally allowed in all the 50 states in the U.S.
  2. Long tube headers take a much longer time to install.
  3. It’s easier to damage a turbocharged engine with a long tube header.
  4. The noisy sound it produces may disturb the neighborhood.

Pros Of Short Tube Headers

  1. They are legally allowed in all the 50 States of the U.S.
  2. The installation of short tube headers is easy and faster.
  3. It sounds much better than the stock manifold headers.
  4. Once it’s applied, it responds best to turbo.
  5. It helps to reduce high temperatures under-hood, and this can prolong the life of your engine.

Cons Of Short Tube Headers

  1. It sounds less exciting when compared to long tube headers.
  2. Since they’re not as fast as long tube headers, the RPM is relatively low.
  3. Causes low revving in your car.
  4. If the shorty header is not installed properly, it may cause vibrations.
  5. If you installed a short tube header, the catalytic converter might heat up once the temperature is too high.

The Cost Of Headers

The cost of installing exhaust headers depends on the size and type of car involved, and how long it’ll take to install it. The cost of installation is charged per hour. However, the average cost of replacing a header is between $1,500 and $2,000. In break down, the labor cost is between $220 and $330. The price for the parts varies from $1,280 and $1,670.

Furthermore, the average cost of replacing a manifold is around $1,070 to $1,170. We’ll break the cost down into labor costs and parts. The labor costs range from $200 to $300 and you can price the parts between $800 and $900.


Performance Headers: Need-to-Know Facts

  1. Performance headers are among the first aftermarket modifications that car enthusiasts should consider.
  2. Aftermarket upgrades, including cold air intake systems and high-performance headers, make the intake and exhaust systems less restrictive, increasing the flow of air into the engine and easing the flow of exhaust gas out, achieving performance benefits.
  3. Performance headers are a set of exhaust pipes that individually connect to each engine cylinder, and their pipes are shaped so that they are the same length once attached to the collector, guaranteeing that each cylinder’s exhaust gases arrive equally spaced.
  4. The purpose of headers is to improve engine performance by producing the “scavenging” effect that removes remaining exhaust gases in the engine cylinders and draws in the incoming intake charge.
  5. Installing aftermarket headers, along with other exhaust system components, can help with performance benefits across the board.
  6. Investing in performance headers will increase your engine’s torque, subsequently improving your horsepower by up to five percent.
  7. Headers can help improve your sound performance by producing smoother, more defined, and more aggressive exhaust notes.
  8. Shorty headers and long tube performance headers are the two most common types of exhaust headers.
  9. Shorty headers act as a direct replacement for the stock exhaust manifold and are a common choice for the average daily driver.
  10. Long tube performance headers require the addition of an aftermarket mid-pipe to maintain a consistent exhaust length, and they provide more significant boosts in horsepower and torque than shorties in the mid-low to mid-high RPM range.

Final Thoughts On Do Headers Add Horsepower

We hope to have provided the answers to the question: do headers add horsepower? Of course, headers add very significant horsepower to your car. If you desire high revving and high RPM in your car, long tube headers are the best option for that. Also, race cars, they’ll need long tube headers for fast acceleration. These headers also give room for easy removal of burnt exhaust gases. And also help to improve the overall performance of your car.

Furthermore, if you desire less noise-producing headers with optimum speed satisfaction, you’d have to opt for shorty headers. Again, We would recommend shorty headers for turbo-based engines or commuters. Also, this header performs excellently and helps to conserve more fuel. However, this happens as a result of low oxygen in the cylinder, which strengthens the engine of your car.

FAQs On Do Headers Add Horsepower

Here are some popular FAQs:

What Is A Header On A Car

The header is a stainless steel bolt-on accessory installed in cars that helps to boost the performance of your engine. It promotes high revving and high RPM of your car engine.

What Do Headers Do

They help to increase horsepower and improve the performance of your car. Also, it helps to eradicate the back pressure that the manifold creates.

How Much Horsepower Do Headers Add

Consider the size and length of the header to determine how much hp it adds. Generally, headers add horsepower ranging from 10 to 20 units.

How Much Horsepower Do Headers Add To A 350

The long tube headers add about 16 horsepower to a 350. A shorty header will do less around 6hp.

How Much Hp Does Long Tube Headers Add

Long tube headers add horsepower ranging from 10 to 20 units. That helps to enhance the overall operation of your car.

How Much Hp Does Shorty Headers Add

Shorty headers add about 8 to 15 horsepower to your car engine. The performance of your car boosts and performs best with a turbo.

How Much Hp Does A Cam Add

Camshafts can increase the horsepower of your car. It can add 10 to 20 horsepower to your car’s engine when properly fixed.

Does Exhaust Add Horsepower

Yes, they add horsepower, but in a very small unit, say 2-10 percent.

What Do Long Tube Headers Do

This set of headers helps to enhance the overall performance of your car. It removes the back pressure created by exhaust manifolds.

Do Headers Make Your Car Louder

Long tube headers increase the sound of your car. It sounds louder than shorty headers. You’ve got to make a compromise on sound if you want a long tube header.

How Hot Do Headers Get

Headers can drive at a temperature of about 1000 to 1500 degrees.

Are Headers Worth It

Yes, it’s a good investment. Headers improve the speed of your car if it’s a slow one. Long tube headers are best for performance cars for high revving and RPM. Shorty headers enable the car to perform at its best.

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