One of my buddies couldn’t decide what header to choose for his heavily modified car. He was intrigued by 1-7/8 headers but questioned whether the extra cost was justified.
After reviewing his car and seeing its potential for power, I strongly suggested upgrading to a 1-7/8 header. And why is that?
The 1-7/8-headers will be better if you desire more horsepower and a louder sound. On the other hand, 1-3/4-inch headers improve your engine’s efficiency and do not require much space in your exhaust system.
In the article, I will explain all the differences and pick a winner for each section. I will also write a summary at the end describing which I believe to be the better product.
Let’s get started!
Types of Exhaust Headers
A wide variety of headers are available nowadays. It is, however, the following three that remain the most popular year after year.
Long Tube Headers
Long tube headers dominate the exhaust header market. And it may be a coincidence, but I will talk about two long headers today.
Coming back to the topic, their long length allows exhaust gasses to travel further before exiting the tailpipe. This way, the headers maximize exhaust flow and are ideal for race or highly modified street cars.
In terms of material, they are typically stainless steel, and you can purchase them with or without collectors.
If you’re on a budget, shorty headers are the way to go. Shorty headers, also called short headers, follow behind long headers. They are smaller in length than long tube ones, as one would expect.
The primary function of these products is to relieve back pressure. As a result, regular cars use them to have a stable performance by maintaining a balanced pressure.
Another major benefit of the short header is its ability to fit into tight spaces. The lack of exhaust space is a common complaint. In such a situation, a short header could come in handy.
Tri-Y Headers consist of three tubes joined at the collector. The tubes are merged into one exhaust pipe at the rear of the vehicle.
These headers offer more efficient exhaust flow than long tube headers but are not as efficient as shorty headers.
If you drive a street car and want a few tweaks, these headers are for you.
Quick Comparison Table
|Key Factor||1-3/4-inch Headers||1-7/8-inch Headers|
|1. Horsepower||Does not increase horsepower significantly, rather enhances the efficiency of the exhaust.||Has a substantial effect on increasing horsepower.|
|2. Sound||Ensures a quieter and smoother sound.||Generates a loud sound with a muscular tone.|
|3. Required Space||Does not take up a lot of space.||Having a larger diameter, it is more demanding on space.|
|4. Diameter||1.75 inches||1.875 inches|
|5. Vehicle Compatibility||Designed for regularly driven vehicles.||Suitable for vehicles with higher performance levels.|
|6. Price||An affordable option.||Has a high price.|
Key Differences Between 1-3/4 And 1-7/8 Headers
Let’s take a look at what makes the 1-7/8-inch header different from the 1-3/4-inch header.
Among the exhaust components, headers provide the most power without a doubt. Nevertheless, you won’t get the same amount of power from every type of header. Each has its own unique characteristics that set it apart from the rest.
In this comparison, the 1-7/8-inch has a higher horsepower rating. The gain from the 1-3/4-inch header isn’t significant.
Hence, those who prefer horsepower alone should go for the 1-7/8-inch one.
Wondering how it gives better power? I will elaborate in the next section.
Winner: 1-7/8-Inch Header
Perhaps the biggest difference between these headers is the diameter of the primary tubes.
It refers to the wider tubes that form the outermost section of exhaust headers. They are responsible for disposing of exhaust gasses.
The 1-3/4-inch headers have a diameter of 1.75 inches, while 1-7/8-inch headers measure 1.875 inches. In case you didn’t know, the greater the diameter, the more exhaust flow they support.
It results in increased horsepower and torque. This is why 1-7/8-inch headers are often preferred for high-performance applications.
Winner: 1-7/8-Inch Header
- Required Space
Previously, I discussed how a bigger header could help you gain additional power. It does, however, have one disadvantage.
Given that the 1-7/8-inch comes in larger dimensions, it also occupies more space in the exhaust area. Unfortunately, not all cars have exhaust systems that accommodate large headers. In that case, a smaller header like the 1-3/4 would be your last resort.
Winner: 1-3/4-Inch Header
People often undervalue the importance of car sound. It not only makes a statement on the road but also gives you a sense of how fast you’re going.
Choosing the right sound depends on the type of vehicle you’re driving.
If you’re behind the wheel of a muscle car, install 1-7/8-inch headers, as they sound more aggressive. This is particularly relevant to turbocharge or supercharged cars.
On the other hand, for a typical luxury automobile, the 1-3/4-inch headers are sufficient. They don’t produce any fancy sounds but rather something sophisticated, refined and quiet.
- Vehicle Compatibility
Many of these motorheads aren’t fans of stock cars. Therefore, they begin modifying it, especially the headers, tips, etc.
If your goal is to build a high-performance vehicle, the 1-7/8-inch headers are a better option. They increase exhaust flow and improve engine performance significantly.
If the exhaust flow is greater, backpressure will rise as well. As it helps to extract more power from the engine, this is beneficial for high-performance cars that are designed to operate at high RPMs.
However, as much as I don’t want to say it, this pressure can be detrimental for lower-performance engines like regular sedans. They are simply not designed to handle that level of back pressure.
What Size Headers Are Better?
Based on the head-to-head comparison above, it is clear that the 1 7/8-inch headers take the top spot. They improve exhaust flow to dramatically boost horsepower.
In addition, these headers deliver a powerful sound for high-performance vehicles. Nonetheless, keep in mind that you will have to shell out a great deal of money.
I would be in grave error if I said that the 1-3/4 headers were bad. They are really useful, especially when you want to make your engine as efficient as possible.
A 1-3/4-inch header also frees up a lot of space in the exhaust. You can take advantage of that to install another pipe, such as a straight pipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do headers help gas mileage?
It is not common for headers to improve gas mileage. Some of them can actually reduce fuel economy because of increased back pressure.
Having said that, some aftermarket performance headers may enhance fuel efficiency due to better exhaust flow.
Do headers make a difference in sound?
Yes, headers do have an impact on the sound, as they influence sound pressure levels and wave directions. They are also responsible for regulating exhaust flow, affecting engine sound.
Do headers require a tune?
Installing new headers on your vehicle will alter the air-fuel ratio and the exhaust flow. It has a profound effect on engine performance.
Therefore, it is crucial to tune/optimize the settings on your vehicle’s ECU (Engine Control Unit).
Also Know: Do You Need a Tune for High Flow Cats?
To Sum Up
Both headers are fantastic and will boost your car’s performance. However, the 1 3/4 is a cost-effective option with slight performance improvement. It focuses more on enhancing engine efficiency.
On the other side, you will gain massive power and sound boost with the 1 7/8 headers. It is important to note that the price will also go up.