How hot do Headers Get (Types of Headers and How it Works )

Is your car’s overall performance disappointing you? The good news is that you can give it a boost by upgrading its exhaust system. This is because the exhaust system has the biggest effect on how your car’s engine performs. In essence, the engine is the heart of the car. It can actually be compared to an air pump. If you want to be more efficient in terms of power and fuel economy, you have to perform some modifications such as installing a header, among many other things. Would you like to know how hot do headers get? Stick around and read more.

Once you install a high-quality header in your car, you can trust that the engine performance will improve by a large margin. Besides optimal performance, you can be sure that you will save more on fuel and even prolong the life of your engine.

As you go shopping for these headers, chances are that you will find several types of headers. This article will demystify the different types of headers you are likely to find out there in the market, how these headers work, and how hot do headers get. This will help you make an informed decision when buying these headers.

how hot do headers get

Different types of headers

Choosing the right header for your car can be a little bit difficult. In fact, a professional in car repair will tell you that there is no such thing as one perfect header. It is worth noting that cars can be identical in terms of model, year, and even make but still use different kinds of headers. It all depends on the performance modifications done on each car. The following are the different types of headers:

1. Long tube headers

Also known as full-length headers, they usually utilize tubes that are longer than primaries on your stock exhaust manifold. In most instances, these 4 primary tubes usually empty into one collector pipe and form what can be referred to as a “4-1” design.

With these kinds of headers in your car, you can trust that your engine will yield more power even when it is in the low and mid-RPM ranges. Besides this advantage, these headers can help reduce the chances of escaping gases from getting drawn back into another pipe.

Compared to short tubes, long tube headers can provide an increase of about 10-20 horsepower. If you are not accelerating over long distances, you can even save more on your fuel in the long run.

2. Shorty headers

These headers usually consist of 4 short primaries that end up in one short collector pipe. If you have a crowded engine compartment, these headers can make a perfect choice for you. This is because they come with a compact design.

Apart from such cars, these headers are ideal if your car has a low ground clearance. These headers can actually work well with the remaining stock exhaust components without necessarily having to be modified.

Since these headers require little or no modification at all, they are usually easy to install. If you have to install the long tube headers, you have to do some modifications which can make you take more time. Although these headers are easy to install, they are not capable of yielding more power compared to the long tube headers. In fact, they usually produce low and mid-range power.

However, if you want to maximize the performance of the shorty headers, you can consider choosing equal-length primaries. These primaries will be able to scavenge gasses equally from all 8 cylinders. As a result, the torque curve will be consistent with each cylinder. Even in low and midrange RPM, your engine will have more torque.

3. Mid-length headers

These headers are known to offer both the benefits of full-length and shorty headers. You will release that they usually provide longer primaries compared to the stock manifold. As a result, they can produce more low and mid-range torque and even power. However, the primaries here are not as long such as those of the full-length headers. Therefore, there you will enjoy more clearance if you have a lowered car.

4. Tri-Y headers

Besides the headers mentioned above, some manufacturers still offer headers in a Tri-Y configuration. These kinds of headers usually merge the 4 primaries into two slightly larger secondary pipes before eventually joining into one collector.

Here, the role of the secondary pipes will be to allow the exhaust gases to maintain high velocity for longer as they eventually merge into the collector. This results in enhanced exhaust flow. Therefore, you will have a broader torque curve compared to the 4-1 headers.

How do Headers work?

It is worth noting that engine headers are excellent bolt-on speed parts that deliver good bang for buck performance. If you can make your engine flow exhaust better, you will be able to pump more air and fuel through it. This results in increased horsepower. They are definitely the best means to boost the power on most engines. However, it is important that you know how these headers are able to make a profound performance difference in different cars.

To start with, if you look at a 4-stroke cycle in a car, you will note that the engine can yield all of its power during the power stroke. Here, the gasoline present in the cylinder normally burns and even expands during the stroke. The aftermath of this is more powerful. The other 3 strokes usually make the power stroke possible.

During the exhaust stroke, an engine can ideally lose power through backpressure. Ideally, the exhaust valve normally opens at the beginning of the exhaust stroke. The piston then pushes the exhaust gases out of the cylinder. If by any chance, this piston encounters some resistance, power will be wasted. As a result, there is a need to use 2 exhaust valves instead of just one. This goes a long way in boosting the flow by making the hole of exhaust gases larger.

Once the exhaust gases leave the cylinder, they usually go to the exhaust manifold. If your car has 4 cylinder engine, its cylinders will be using one manifold. It is from there that the gases from the engine get into one pipe as they head to the catalytic converter and then to the muffler of your car.

Sometimes, back pressure can emanate from the manifold because the exhaust gases leaving one cylinder can increase the pressure in the manifold. This, in turn, affects the next cylinder that uses the manifold. To avert this problem, there is a need to install a header. It can significantly help to eliminate the manifold’s backpressure.

Besides reducing back pressure, the headers help in scavenging. Remember that each pulse of gas typically has its own mass. As it moves down the tube, it usually develops some momentum. By closing the exhaust valve, you will stop the flow of that pulse momentarily. However, it will keep on moving since the gas is already in motion.

As a result, a vacuum will be formed behind the pulse. If the exhaust valve is still open, the vacuum might draw the residential exhaust gases out of the chamber and thereby improve evacuation.

It is during this brief moment that the vacuum pulls in fresh air through the intake valve, thereby resulting in an effect that is quite different from mild forced induction. This is commonly known as scavenging. More air in the cylinder means that your engine will generate more power. This one of the principal benefits of the header besides reducing backpressure.

How hot do headers get?

Due to their proximity to the engine, headers are bound to get very hot. However, how hot do headers get? Sometimes, the headers can get hot enough to glow if you run your car hard enough. However, under normal circumstances, the temperatures of the header should not go over 100 degrees F. This is usually the case if you have a high-quality header that can withstand high temperatures, such as 1500 degrees F and above. The good news is that header paint makes them withstand these extreme temperatures

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

Q: What temperature do exhaust headers reach?

If you own a car, chances are that you would like to know how hot do exhaust manifold gets. Exhaust manifolds on some cars can actually reach 1200 degrees Fahrenheit to Celsius. However, this is very rare under normal circumstances. The hottest locations usually tend to be those areas where there is some constriction or there is an impingement of the exhaust gas.

Q: How hot do Motorcycle headers get?

Most people would like to know how hot do headers get on motorcycles. Just like those headers of ordinary cars, the headers of the motorcycles can actually get over 1000 degrees. However, the muffler can get up to 500 degrees.

Q: Do headers get hotter than manifolds?

Well, even when the surface temperatures of the manifolds and the headers are almost similar, the header pipe temperature can be 3 to 4 times hotter than the manifold. In fact, they are capable of radiating 3-4 times more heat.

Q: How hot do turbo headers get?

Ordinarily, the temperatures of the muffler are usually between 300 to 500 degrees F. However, it is capable of handling more temperatures up to 1200 degrees F. When these temperatures are extreme, the catalytic converter is likely to get damaged.

Q: Should you wrap headers?

Yes. By wrapping the headers, you will keep the heat in the pipes. As a result, there will be improved exhaust flow and a more scavenging effect. Also, this helps to lower the underhood temperatures. Since the heat is retained inside the wrap. As such, this temperature will not reach other sensitive parts of the engine.

Q: Should I wrap my stainless steel headers?

Yes. By wrapping your stainless steel headers, you will be able to prevent them from corroding. Apart from this, the underhood temperatures will greatly reduce and also go a long way in improving the aesthetic appeal of these headers.


Headers are essential components of your car. Once you install them in your car, you can be sure that your car’s engine performance will improve as well as improve on fuel economy. Besides this, the car’s engine will last longer in good condition and even produce a throatier, deeper sound as these headers allow the fumes to flow better. Invest in high-quality headers today, and you will be a happy car owner. Headers are truly incredible.


Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

One thought on “How hot do Headers Get (Types of Headers and How it Works )

  1. I have a 98 chevy Silverado with a 5.7 vortec. I just bought new shorty headers and was wondering if I need the hot air tube located on the drivers side shorty header on the back near the fire wall.

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