In this Summit Racing Quick Flicks video, Mike will help you choose the right type of headers for your exhaust system—focusing on shortys and long-tube headers. Learn why full-length, long tube headers generally will give you the best exhaust velocity and scavenging, and overall performance. However, all sized headers offer specific characteristics that can help you achieve the fitment and performance you’re looking for.

Welcome back to Summit Racing Quick Flicks. Today we are going to open up a whole series on how to select the right headers for your application.

Today we are going to get into the different types of headers that are available out there for most vehicle applications and help you determine which style is right for your specific vehicle. What you will notice is if you go to our website or you call in, you’re going to get a lot of questions on what type of pattern you want, and the options are typically going to be long tube or a shorty type header. What you may also come to find is they are going to list fender wall headers as well as mid length headers, street rod headers, zoomies, truck pull headers–whatever they may be–and each one of these headers are going to have a specific characteristic that’s associated with them that’s going to make them preform differently from one another as well as fit differently from the next.

Most popular are the full length headers. Full length headers, in most situations, are going to give you the best bang for your buck when it comes to actual all-out performance, and this is due to their flow characteristics and how they move the air out of the engine. In the long tube design, you are going to have these long, individualized runners that are going to come into a common collector. The further we can extend this, in most cases, will lead to better exhaust velocity and better scavenging once it gets to the collector, and this leads us back to our X-pipe video that we talked about probably a month back or so as far as what exhaust scavenging is. (These) are the pulses in the exhaust (that) literally (increase) the flow out of the exhaust by it drawing air out of the tube next to it.

Whereas, in comparison, the shorty header is going to bring everything together in a collector at a much earlier point. (This means) that the exhaust scavenging effect will go ahead and not be as drastic as it would be with the full length headers. As a result, each one is going to perform a little differently from one another as far as the long tube header typically will give you more mid-range and top-end power. In comparison the shorty header is probably going to make more low-end torque because of the fact that it is going to give a little more backpressure and perform a little more closely to a stock exhaust manifold.

The only two version headers we are going to focus on today are the long tubes and shortys. Now I know I mentioned there were fender well headers as well as street rod headers and zoomies and stuff like that. A lot of those are really application-specific to some race vehicles and things of that nature, so we’re really not going to focus on those too much today. What we are going to talk about is the difference between a full length header and a shorty header and which is right for you. We come to find that a lot of customers have questions on which version they should go with on their vehicle, because they really don’t understand what they are going to gain from each and which is going to go ahead and create the most fitment issues as far as their vehicle goes.

Now a full length header for the most part will give you the most benefits when it comes to a true performance application, but there are some downfalls when installing this type of header on a vehicle. The main thing is fitment. It’s going to be a lot more complex to fit on your vehicle, and it’s going to require probably the movement and adjustment of a lot of vehicle accessories. (Plus) if you look at this header, you would think to yourself it would generally go on from the engine compartment down. In reality, these are actually meant to be installed from underneath the vehicle, and you have to have the vehicle in most applications right around 36 inches or higher off the ground to even get the proper angle to get them up in there properly.  The other issue with a long tube header is it’s going to create ground clearance issues if you have a vehicle that has been lowered. You really want to consider this because if you have a lowered vehicle and you see a lot of rough road conditions in your area…experience a lot of speed bumps… things like that. You could have beaten up the collector on the bottom here and created a lot of issues for yourself and what happens a lot of times is you end up beating up the collector and that ends up, in turn, damaging the flange area up top where it mounts to the cylinder head and creates all kinds of leaks and what not.

Whereas in comparison, you can go with a shorty type header which is not going to give you the same performance benefits as a full length header does, but it’s going to go into the vehicle a lot easier as far as the fitment goes. It’s not going to require any of those same changes we talked about with the full length header…it’s not going to have the same ground clearance issues that are associated with the full length header…and for the most part, shorty headers, if designed specific to that vehicle, will bolt up to your existing exhaust system without any problems and not require a custom exhaust system like your full length header would. The downfall to the shorty header is the fact that you are not going to get the maximum performance out of it because it doesn’t scavenge well and it doesn’t move air as well as a full length header does. Keep an eye out for part two of this video where we are going to discuss header primary tube diameters. If you have any questions leave us a comment.