Header Wrap 101: Horsepower, Sound, Damages, & Rusting

By February 9, 2022Exhaust

Header wrap is the material used to wrap the header pipes that helps to retain heat inside the pipes.

It also serves as heat resistant and helps to minimize the under-hood temperature of the vehicle. These are mostly useful in race cars but can be used in common vehicles for better engine efficiency.

Mostly header wrap is used for the heat retaining inside the headers but there are many other benefits of header wraps also that we are going to discuss in this blog.

Header wraps are the only solution to reduce the temperature in the engine bay that helps the vehicle to improve its efficiency.

I have been using the header wrap for 2 years on my Honda accord which has K20 setup with custom made headers. The benefits I am gaining by wrapped headers are, better exhaust gas flow and less heat in the engine bay.

This article provides in depth knowledge about the header wraps and their advantages along with the disadvantages.

Header wrap is a strap that is coated with different materials to retain heat inside the header pipes which helps the exhaust gasses to flow at a better rate and thus improving engine’s efficiency.

Headers with bigger engine are wrapped mostly for the power gain and smooth exhaust gasses flow but sometime people wrap the stock engine’s header to reduce heat in the engine bay to keep it cool. This improves the cold air intake hence makes these vehicles fuel efficient.

A wrapped header will retain as much heat as possible inside the header to speed up the movement of exhaust flow.

What does wrapping your headers do?

Header wrap maintains the heat inside the header pipe and this heat maintains a warm environment inside the header and this environment further helps the exhaust gasses to flow at a smooth rate and increase efficiency of the engine

Hot environment of the headers raises the exhaust gasses temperature and once the temperature is raised the density of the gasses decreases. Gasses with decreased density flow out of the exhaust system easily as compared to gasses with the high density.

This smooth flow causes the cylinder to empty quickly and it not only makes the intake mixture to enter quickly inside the chamber but also it prevents the intake mixture from mixing with burnt gasses. This improves the burning process making engine run smooth.

Above mentioned process plays a major role in the engine’s smooth working and improves its efficiency and helps to gain some extra power

Header wraps are also used as heat reduction by keeping the heat inside the pipes and it keeps the engine bay cool and also if your headers are close to the cabin’s firewall it prevents the heat entering into the cabin compartment.

Does header wrap increase horsepower?

Header wrap increases horse power and improves engine’s efficiency. As mentioned above header wrap increases the flow of exhaust gasses it allows the intake mixture to burn efficiently making it more powerful

The effect of header wrap for the increase of horse power is significant in bigger engines like V8. But you can also notice change in horsepower in smaller engine also, as it decreases the heat inside the engine bay, making the cold dense air intake flow at higher rate.

This cold air intake helps the ideal mixture and contains more oxygen molecules inside the mixture that allows the mixture to burn efficiently thus increasing the engine power.

The horsepower gain varies from engine to engine to engine but mostly 5-10 horsepower gain is seen in minimal cases.

What kind of material is used in header wrap?

There are 2 major materials that are used as header wrap.

  1. Titanium coated header wrap
  2. Fiber glass coated header wraps

Out of these two Titanium wraps are most commonly used and also, they are easy to use. The life of Titanium based wraps is longer than the fiber glass. Fiber glass wrap has a life of approximately 3 years while that of Titanium wrap is more than 5 years

Fiber glass wraps are processed before applying and makes it difficult to install while Titanium based wraps are easy to install.

Titanium header wrap is the most common and last the longest

How to install header wrap?

Header wraps are installed by wrapping it around the header pipes with both ends clamped and a maintained overlap area. No special tools or skills are required for installation.

Installing titanium coated header wrap

Titanium coated wraps are easy to install. Here’s the list of step to install Titanium coated header wrap.

  1. Measure the length of the header pipe and cut the length of the wrap accordingly.
  2. Start wrapping the pipe from bottom of the header and upward. Make sure you clamped it tightly and it doesn’t slip while you are wrapping.
  3. Maintaining a good overlapping area is the key for a good wrap. Ideal overlapping area is 1\4” for each overlap.
  4. Once you reach at the top of the header make sure the wrap is tight throughout the header and is properly sitting.
  5. Clamp the upper end with a steel clamp or a hose pipe clamp.

 

Installing fiber glass header wrap

Fiber glass wraps need some skills to install. Here’s the list of step to install fiber glass header wrap.

  1. Fiber glass is difficult to handle and hard in nature. To make it soft and easy to work with soak it in water for few hours. It will lay off the fiber dust also that is irritant for the skin.
  2. Once soaked it becomes soft so you can start wrapping it around the pipe.
  3. Start from bottom by clamping it properly.
  4. Move upward by keeping it tight and making the overlap proper.
  5. Make sure it sits proper and doesn’t slip from its place.
  6. Once you reach at the top make sure it is covering the whole pipe and sits tightly throughout the header.
  7. Make sure clamps are tight on both ends.

The only precaution that you should keep in mind is the overlapping area. If you overlap too much it will cause the exhaust system to overheat.

If the header you are dealing with is made of stainless steel, then you may have to apply some glue before wrapping it because it slippery in nature and the wrap doesn’t stick on it properly.

When installed, if you see some smoke coming out of it while your engine is running, keep in mind that its totally normal and will stop by itself eventually

Does header wrap cause rust?

Cheap header wraps could cause rust to headers – especially if the installation was poor.

If you use cheap headers made of poor material, they absorb moist in them and cause oxidation when heated thus eventually causing the rust to headers.

Which muffler is your car right now?

 It also depends on the installation of the header wraps. If the wrap is loose and doesn’t fit with the header then it serves no purpose and will cause rusting because moisture easily seeps in.

Rust also depends on the materials of the headers. If the material is stainless steel, then there is no option of rust but when iron or any other material header is used and it is wrapped with a poor-quality wrap it causes the headers to rust quickly.

To prevent rust, The wrapping must be tight to keep moisture from entering.

Will header wrap damage headers?

Header wraps do not damage the headers. As these are only soft material wraps so they do not cause any damage to headers. 

It is observed that in 99% cases header wraps do not cause any damage to the headers. It also depends on the material of headers and wrap both. If both are of good quality then headers remain undamaged for longer period of time.

If the overlaps in the installation is too much then it will heat up the headers beyond its limits and will surely cause damage to the pipes. So, you must keep in mind the proper overlapping of the wrap.

Does wrapping headers reduce noise?

Header wraps do not reduce noise of the exhaust system. Header wraps are not made of material that is particularly used for reducing noise.

In some kind of materials some sort of sound damping properties are seen but these are not significant enough to damp the sound of engine or exhaust system. Header wraps possess qualities of heat retaining and can only be used for heat trapping.

For sound damping purpose you have to search for the materials that reduce engine noise or exhaust system noise. Header wraps are purely made with the heat resistant material which does not have sound damping properties.

How long does hearer wrap last?

Depending on the quality, a good header wrap lasts for 3-5 years. Most Titanium based headers last longer than any other material. An estimated life of header wrap is up to 5 years

Poor quality headers not only cause damage to headers but also, they deteriorate early and cause problems for the vehicle. So, it is recommended to use good quality header wrap and also proper installation is necessary to prevent headers from damage.

Mostly fiber glass coated header wraps have low life as compared to the Titanium based headers. If the material of the header is up to the mark and installation is also flawless then header wraps tend to last for life.

Is wrapping your headers bad?

Wrapping the headers is not bad in any case. Header wraps do not affect the headers or engine but they enhance engine’s performance and help the exhaust gasses to pass through the exhaust system smoothly.

Even if you are not getting any benefit from it yet it has no harm to your engine or to the headers. Simply it is right to say if you are not getting any benefit from wrapping, it’s not damaging anything either.

So, it’s easy to conclude wrapping the headers is not a bad idea at all.

Do you need tuning for header wrap?

You don’t need any kind of special tuning for the header wrap. As it has no direct relation with the engine so you don’t need any kind of special tuning to be done with engine.

As the wrap only serve the purpose of heat retaining and has no relation with engine so no any modification or tuning is required for the header wrap 

You just need to wrap the headers and you are good to go.

Should the headers be wrapped?

You should wrap the headers to improve the efficiency of the vehicle and to get a little more power than usual.

Basically, you should be sure for which purpose you are going to wrap the headers. If the purpose is to improve the efficiency of the engine and heat reduction in the engine bay then you should go for it.

But if you want to make the noise reduction, then you should think about another method because header wraps are not designed to reduce the engine or exhaust noise.

Conclusion

Header wraps are good and very cheap mods you can do in your vehicle if you want to gain some extra horsepower and are not willing to do any other mods in the vehicle.

Header wraps not only look good but they are value to money when installed properly. If you have a daily driven vehicle and you are facing heat issues inside the cabin then the only solution you are left with is the header wrap.

Header wrap also helps you to increase the efficiency of your engine and also you get maximum fuel efficiency out of your stock vehicle.

Header wraps are one of very few initial stages mods that are not only legal but also cheap and easy to install. You may encounter some of the mods that maybe waste of money or marketing gimmick but header wraps are not one of those. They are definitely worth their price and serve the purpose.

Ifandi L.

Ifandi L.

Passionate about everything mechanical. Ifandi has been involved with motorcycles and cars since the old days - in his family's auto parts shop. Want to keep in touch? Scream "STRAIGHT PIPEEEEE" at the top of your lungs and Ifandi will show up.

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