Should You Add Headers To Your Tundra?
When it comes to adding power to your Tundra, replacing your stock exhaust manifolds with headers is an option worth exploring. Stock exhaust manifolds are typically designed with low cost in mind, and on many vehicles they are restrictive and inefficient when compared to after-market headers. On most vehicles, replacing the stock exhaust manifold with headers will remove flow restrictions inherent in the standard system and scavenge as much exhaust gas as possible out of the engine. For most trucks (especially trucks made more than 5 years ago), headers are a great way to add decent power to a stock engine.
However, fans of the 2nd-generation Tundra know that the stock exhaust manifold on the 4.6L and 5.7L Tundra is actually quite good. In fact, the stock exhaust manifold on newer Tundra trucks is one of the more sophisticated factory exhaust manifolds you’ll find. They’re an efficient stainless steel 4 into 2 into 1 design, a configuration that’s known for moving exhaust gases quickly. The Tundra’s stock exhaust manifold tubes are also equal length for each cylinder. Equal length tubes are important because they facilitate consistent back pressure in each cylinder, improving overall performance.
The bottom line for 2nd-gen Tundra owners (07′ and up models) is that replacing the standard exhaust manifold with a set of less restrictive after-market headers isn’t going to result in huge gains. Still, that’s not to say that adding headers to a Tundra will have no impact.
On a stock Tundra, after market exhaust headers will add at least 10 horsepower. Just like cold air intakes and cat-back exhaust systems, headers work best on trucks that have other performance add-ons. The more performance equipment you have on your truck, the more power a set of headers can add. If your truck already features several other modifications, such as an intake or cat-back exhaust, a UniChip engine tuner, a TRD supercharger, or other power-adders like a turbocharger or nitrous system, then headers have a lot more to bring to the table.
Put simply, after-market headers are power multipliers. While stock Tundras will notice only modest power gains, modified trucks will greatly benefit from a set of after-market headers. Of course, headers do have some downsides:
- Expense. Depending on the type of material used, headers can range from $300 to more than $1,000.
- Slight reduction of low-end torque. Critics of headers point out that many header designs sacrifice a small amount of low-end torque for higher rpm power. Proponents of headers feel that it all balances out in the end – especially on trucks with other accessories.
- After-market headers can crack. After-market headers – especially ceramic headers – are typically more vulnerable to cracking than a stock exhaust manifold. However, it should be noted that any exhaust manifold or header can crack under the right circumstances.
Like a lot of performance truck accessories, there are trade-offs that come with a set of after-market headers. However, if your Tundra already has other performance accessories, or if you’re looking to squeeze every ounce of power from your Tundra, headers are definitely worth considering.
Next, we’ll evaluate after-market Tundra headers from Gibson, Doug Thorley, and JBA.
Filed Under: Toyota Tundra Accessories