Exhaust Manifold Vs Headers | Proper Guide Of 2022

The Headers and exhaust manifold are an important part of the exhaust system. Therefore, you might happen to ask differences between exhaust manifolds vs headers.

All internal combustion engine vehicles run through a complex process to produce energy. They go through the induction process after which compression. Finally, combustion happens which is followed by the exhaust system. The cycle is continuous and shuts down only when you turn off the ignition.

Through this guide, we will portray to you all the differences between exhaust manifolds vs headers. You will also be able to answer your needs among these two!


Distinguishing Exhaust Manifold Vs Headers

We often confuse between exhaust manifold and headers. This is due to the similarities they serve between them.

Manifold is a word that means several inlets and outlets folding together. We can take a V8 engine to explain. There are eight cylinders in a V8 engine. Therefore, those eight cylinders have one outlet each. Further, the gases from those eight cylinders feed into one single exhaust pipe. For that to happen, we need an exhaust manifold.

The main purpose of an exhaust manifold is to distribute exhaust gases from the engine into the remaining exhaust system to expel. However, there are some key differences between headers vs exhaust manifold.

The most obvious difference between the two is their sound and performance. Therefore, each serves a unique experience and it depends on what you want to do with your vehicle.

To understand the need for the right one, you need to know the detailed functionality of Manifolds and headers.


Exhaust Manifold

All exhaust manifolds are made out of cast iron. Cast iron is extremely durable and can withstand severe heat and pressure. However, the downside of cast iron is cracking.

Most of the vehicles are equipped with exhaust manifolds from the factory. Those manifolds are much thicker, stronger, and durable. However, those thick walls reduce the empty space inside the manifold. Therefore, it creates a hindrance for the exhaust gases to pass through.

Further, iron castings aren’t the smoothest. Therefore, the rough surface also reduces the smooth flow of the exhaust gas.

Moreover, the slow gas flow might create back pressure which reduces the efficiency. Combined with all the downsides, there could be a reduction in horsepower. All these might also lead to a less fresh air intake.



  • Great heat absorption
  • Reduction in emission
  • Retains noise
  • Less expensive



  • Congested area for air passage
  • Thick walls reduce airflow



People often install headers as aftermarket parts to their vehicles. Further, headers are constructed using stainless steel which is highly resistant to heat and pressure. Further, the smooth body of stainless steel enables smooth air to exit out of the exhaust.

The header tubes are connected to the collector pipe. This pipe is identical in length and uniform. Moreover, it ensures that the exhaust gases are reached the collector individually from the cylinders.

You should make sure that the pipes aren’t constricted because it damages the purpose. Moreover, you will see much-improved performance out of the vehicle if everything is fit properly.

However, the downside of the header is it has thin walls. Yes, it does improve airflow but it worsens the sound experience due to the thin walls. The thin wall fails to absorb as much sound as the manifold thick wall. Although, you will love it if you love to hear engine noise.

Headers come in painted looks, ceramic coated, chrome coated, or even not coated at all. However, you should not purchase uncoated headers as it will rust over time. Further, ceramic coated headers are the most durable due to the rust protection characteristics.



  • No manifold backpressure
  • Performance bump
  • Impeccable for turbo engine cars
  • Good for high revs



  • Less sound absorbing capability
  • Problematic with constricted collector pipe



The Different Types of Headers

There are different types of headers. Therefore, it is essential that you get the right one for your vehicle. Further, different types of headers offer different types of performance.


Short Headers

Short headers are perfect for cursing at the mid-rpm. This is best for daily driving your vehicle with a bump in performance. Moreover, you can go for an equal or unequal length header.

The equal length provides impeccable performance all over. However, the unequal header produces deep engine sounds and a much lower torque end.

Even though short headers are good for turbo engine vehicles, it is not ideal for high revs.


Long Headers

The long tube headers are best for revs. It is impeccable for medium to high range revs. However, it might change the factory-built manifold, the downpipe along with the catalytic converter. Therefore, it might be expensive to change to long headers.

You should go for the long header manifold if you like the exhaust sound of the engine. However, the installation process is very tough. Further, your car will show engine light if you have the factory catalytic converter.


Sound Of Exhaust Manifold Vs Headers

The debate between Exhaust manifold Vs headers can be sorted out with your preference of what you prefer.

You should stick with the exhaust manifold if you love the factory-built sound system. Further, the wall of the manifold is thick which absorbs most of the sound.

However, if you love to hear the exhaust sound, then you need to go for the headers. Header offers thin tubes, thin walls, and collector pipes. The thin wall absorbs less sound. Therefore, you can hear much louder exhaust roars.

Moreover, the header also increases vehicle performance and eliminates backpressure issues. This is due to the thinner walls which lets more exhaust gases pass through.



Now you know all about Exhaust Manifold Vs Headers. Exhaust manifolds are more of an OEM thing. It produces less power than the headers. Further, it dampens the exhaust sound due to the thicker wall. Therefore, you will be satisfied with the exhaust manifold if you love the OEM sound of your vehicle.

On the other hand, comes headers. These are much louder than the manifold and eliminates the exhaust back pressure issue due to the thinner walls. Moreover, you will also notice much higher performance due to proper airflow from the exhaust system.

However, the long tube headers are a headache to install as you need to replace the OEM catalytic converter. Moreover, it might also trigger the check engine light and is a hassle to install.

Therefore, it comes to your personal preference if you want to keep everything OEM or modify with aftermarket parts.

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