Do Headers Change Exhaust Sound?

by Patricia Hill

Exhaust headers are rarely found stock on vehicles; most vehicles have what is called a standard exhaust manifold. Headers decrease restrictions, therefore increasing horsepower and sound. Many varieties are offered such as short tube, mid-tube or mid-length, and long tube headers.


Short headers accommodate emission regulations but won’t generate significant horsepower. Long tube headers are far from emission regulations and produce the most power. Mid-tubes pack a little punch and meet some emission standards.


Different style headers provide varying sounds and power. Long tube headers supply the most power and increase the vehicle’s sound. Mid-length headers give power ratios and sound qualities somewhat less than long tube headers.


Many people want their vehicle to sound good on the street, but in many cases, it can be unbearable inside the vehicle. Additionally, some states perform routine emissions testing and many headers will result in test failure.


Horsepower and torque is the biggest benefit to installing aftermarket headers. Another benefit is the driver’s ability to open the car’s exhaust, which generates an appealing sound.


The installation of some headers reduces emission standards as well as the proper use of a catalytic converter, which is illegal in most areas.


It is recommended to have headers installed by a certified mechanic. Improper installation can result in exhaust leaks into the cabin of the vehicle resulting in potential carbon monoxide poisoning of the driver and passengers.

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