I see many car owners concerned about their headers getting too hot. How Hot Do Headers Get? The truth is that headers are expected to heat up. Having said that, you should ensure that the header’s temperature does not exceed a certain point. For that, it is necessary to understand temperature profiles under different driving scenarios. In the article, I present a brief explanation of headers first. Following that, I will discuss header types and their heat output. In the article, I present a brief explanation of headers first. Following that, I will discuss header types and their heat output. Let’s get started!
How Hot Do Headers Get?
Headers are components of a car’s exhaust system that are designed to increase the flow of exhaust gases from the engine. Headers are typically made of metal and can get quite hot during operation.
The exact temperature of headers can vary depending on a variety of factors, including the type of metal used, the engine’s operating temperature, and the level of exhaust flow. Generally, headers can reach temperatures of up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit (650 degrees Celsius) or more during operation.
However, it’s important to note that headers can become even hotter under certain conditions, such as during high-performance driving or if the exhaust system is not functioning properly. As a result, it’s important to take proper precautions when working on or around hot headers to avoid burns or other injuries.
How Do Headers Work?
I won’t discuss header temperatures straight away since you may confuse yourself. First, let me elaborate on how they work.
Simply put, headers are a set of tubes replacing a single exhaust manifold.
You may already be aware that a traditional manifold gathers exhaust gasses from every cylinder and discharges them. Headers, on the other hand, make room for separate ports on all cylinders.
As a result, they have individual tubes, thereby increasing the flow rate.
Each tube matches the exact dimensions of a cylinder. As the exhaust gasses are no longer restricted by a single pipe, they spread more evenly and create less back pressure.
Another way that headers accomplish their purpose is by improving scavenging. This is the commonly known procedure for removing exhaust gasses from a cylinder.
As you know, headers provide a port for each cylinder. It facilitates the efficient removal of exhaust gasses. Hence, it greatly improves engine performance.
What Are The Different Types Of Headers?
Let’s go over the four types of headers in detail.
- Short Headers
As the name indicates, short headers are the shortest among all types. No wonder they are called ‘shorty headers.’
You will find these items in compact cars, which have limited space. It can also be used in racing applications due to its lightweight nature.
Short headers do improve exhaust flow and offer some horsepower, but they are unlikely to offer the same performance gains as longer headers.
One of the things I like most about them is their ease of installation.
- Medium Headers
A medium header has a longer length than a short header. The most appealing aspect of such headers is their balance. They combine performance improvement with ease of installation.
Moreover, medium headers offer considerable gains in horsepower and torque over stock exhaust manifolds.
- Long Headers
The lengthiest type of header is the long header. I cannot praise this enough, with one exception. Since the length is excessive, you might have trouble installing it.
As for the advantages of these headers, you will get maximum performance with excellent horsepower and torque.
- Tri-Y Headers
One thing to note is that Tri-Y headers might not offer as much improvement in performance as long headers.
Tri-Y headers, also called four-in-one headers, feature a design of three tubes connecting to a single collector. They enhance the exhaust flow and increase torque significantly.
Exhaust Headers: How Hot Are They?
If I am being honest, headers can get quite hot in a similar way to exhaust tips. This is even more evident when you drive a vehicle for a long period of time or at high speed.
In that case, headers can reach temperatures exceeding 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit (around 815 degrees Celsius). In particular, such a temperature can occur in performance cars since their headers are more powerful and produce more heat.
As for the temperature of the header, when driving normally, it should be above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (around 37 degrees Celsius). This figure is based on the assumption that you drive a compact car.
More specifically, header temperatures are determined by a variety of factors, such as engine size, exhaust system design, and driving conditions.
A more powerful engine and exhaust system will produce a higher temperature.
Another factor affecting the temperature is the material. Aluminum and stainless steel are some of the materials used in the header’s manufacture.
There is a difference in heat resistance between these two metals. The headers made of stainless steel tend to be able to withstand higher temperatures than those made of aluminum.
Why Do Headers Get Hot?
It is possible for a header to become hot for multiple reasons. While some factors are under your control, others might not be. Let’s check them out.
- Exhaust Gas Heat
In case you didn’t know, engine exhaust gasses are extremely hot. As they travel through the exhaust manifold and headers, a portion of their heat is transferred to the metal components.
And what do those components include?
Yes, that’s right, the header.
- Engine Heat
If you asked me which part of a vehicle is the hottest, my answer would be the engine. Unfortunately, your headers are right next to the engine, a major heat source.
In other words, headers are simply subjected to high temperatures for long periods of time.
- Accumulation of Carbon
Another factor responsible for excessive heat is carbon buildup. If you neglect to clean it out of the exhaust system, it will heat up the header over time.
- Lack of Insulation
A faulty insulation system can also raise exhaust temperatures.
I have seen a lot of car owners who do not install insulation properly or too thinly insulate their exhausts. Such weak insulation allows heat to accumulate in the headers because they are metal.
- Insufficient Exhaust Flow
Last but not least, if your exhaust flow is inadequate, the headers will overheat. You should also check the exhaust for poor tuning.
Poor flow and a bad tune result in a restricted exhaust system. As a result, the gas in the exhaust will heat up, and your headers will become hot as well.
Tips For Keeping Exhaust Headers Cool
The following five tips will help you prevent exhaust headers from overheating.
- Use a temperature-resistant coating
As I mentioned earlier, headers often heat up due to hot gas that passes nearby. You can use a heat-resistant coating to block that.
Ceramic and titanium coatings have both become popular over the years. Apply the one you prefer to reduce heat transfer to headers.
- Wrap the exhaust
If you feel coating presents a challenge, try covering the headers in a high-temperature-resistant material.
Several types of wraps are available for this purpose, including fiberglass and titanium. Both are highly effective at protecting the headers.
- Increase the exhaust system’s size
Some headers will remain hot despite your greatest efforts. In that case, you should enlarge the exhaust system.
This way, exhaust flow will improve while backpressure will decline. All of this contributes to a cooler header.
- Set up a cooling fan
I know having a cooling fan hanging on your exhaust may be unusual for you. However, as pathetic as it appears, the solution is actually quite effective.
While installing, you must place the fan close to the headers. It will provide cooling to the header and reduce heat absorption by the metal.
- Don’t overload the engine
If none of the solutions work for you, simply avoid overburdening the engine. Putting too much strain on it will increase its heat output, leading to hotter headers.
To Sum Up
As you can see from the article, headers do get pretty hot, especially in high-performance turbo cars. However, a cool header is easily achievable if you follow my tips about preventing overheating.
Remember that proper header temperature is crucial to retaining the performance of your car.