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What are Jeep Wrangler Headers?

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Headers are a great way to bolster power numbers and improve under hood appearances. They're also an excellent replacement for stock units as they tend to hold up better to adverse conditions and more rust resistant.

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There are a lot of things you are going to do to your Wrangler to make it a true performance off-road rig. Though, if you stick to the books, you’ll likely stick to the basics like adding a cold air intake, a decent exhaust and add a tune to boost engine performance. As you plunge deeper into power adders on the market you will come across headers. If you’re new to the game, the term can catch you off guard.

What is a Header

What exactly is a header? A header is a modification you make that replaces the exhaust manifolds with high flowing components that increase the rate at which exhaust leaves the combustion chamber. This not only improves sound quality, but it is really meant to help increase horsepower. With Wranglers, you have three options you have shorty headers, long tube headers, and tuned length headers.

Shorty: Shorty headers are the most common and the user-friendliest type of header on the market for Jeeps. This is because they simply bolt in place of the stock manifolds with no mods to the factory exhaust being required. They also will not interfere with ground clearance, which does come into play with other header types.

Long Headers: Long tube headers bolt to the cylinder head just like a shorty would. Though, the tubes that run off the header are longer and will require the exhaust to be relocated. This means either the installer will need to perform some modifications to the exhaust or will have to call an exhaust shop to do the job. With that said, long tube headers may not always interfere with ground clearance but they can, depending on the part you are working with.

Tuned-Length Headers: The last type of headers will combine the best of both worlds. They use long tubes to help increase power but bundle them up into a compact package so that the user can get them in place of the stock manifolds like a shorty header.

Wrangler Header Finishes

Headers, like many other auto parts, come in many different finishes. These coatings are meant to help protect the headers from corrosion but also boost appearances.

Natural: This means there is no finish what so ever on the headers. Less common as days go on, but still on the market and worth looking out for.

Painted: Paint is used to give a basic layer of protection to the headers but will eventually wear away. Paint has trouble standing up to heat and elements, but can be applied whenever.

Polished Stainless: Like natural finish, there is no layer of protection added. Though, with stainless steel a polished finish prevents corrosion and makes it difficult for debris to cling to.

Ceramic: Ceramic coating is the best option for protection when it comes to headers. The coating is corrosion resistant and can withstand tremendous heat. It is, however, the most expensive.

How Can You Take Advantage of the Headers?

Headers are designed to allow more flow of the exhaust, which can increase horsepower. Out of the box, headers will provide some minor gains in horsepower, but to truly reap the rewards of higher flowing exhaust parts, you need to increase how much air the engine is drawing in. If you add in a cold air intake and a good tune, the headers will allow more air to flow through them and you will get more results from these mods. You still are not taking full advantage of the headers though.

Headers increase the amount of air that can flow through the exhaust, not how much it does flow. When installed, the fact that more air can move faster will free up some ponies, but it won’t create them. Exhaust mods only ever do just that. The intake system of the car is where power is really generated so that’s where to focus the bigger mods. If you want to take advantage of a really good set of headers, consider looking into a series of modifications.

Camshafts, bigger throttle bodies, a custom tune, and maybe even head work should be considered. Of course, there is the method of forcing air through the system. Superchargers and turbos are all the rage; they will really help that Jeep take advantage of a free flowing exhaust.

Installation Considerations

Even with shorty and tuned length headers on a Wrangler, there are a few things you need to take into consideration. It is tough to get on the side of the engine in the engine bay so you might need to take side access through the wheel well.

Also, if the Jeep is older, get all of the hardware needed to mount headers right away. Even if the old stuff is in good condition, you will want to replace everything. If the vehicle has some rust, be ready to wrestle the exhaust header bolts out of the cylinder head. It’s a dark thought, but an enemy you can expect is always easier to face.

Fitment includes: 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, YJ, TJ, JK, JL, Laredo, Sport, Islander, S, Sahara, Renegade, SE, X, Rubicon, Unlimited, Sport-S