Should You Add Headers To Your Tundra?

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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.

Tundra owners wonder - headers, or no headers?

Tundra owners wonder - headers, or no headers?

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


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  1. patrick says:

    If u do a decent job comparing all those headers u will have answered my prayers. Also, if u could have dyno evidence and what not that would be amazing.

  2. Mickey says:

    No need to improve an 07 model. For the money get a chip. Our stock headers are great enough.

  3. Charles says:

    Please learn from my mistake. I’ve put shortie headers on every truck I’ve owned too include a set of Doug Thorley shorties on my 07 DC and it was the worst mistake I made with that truck IMO. There was definately a significant lost in low end torque off the line and mid-range over stock was barely noticeable. Overall, it was about a $1000 wasted of time. I now have an 07 RCSB that SC’ed with the factory exhaust manifold and it’s super fast.

  4. mk says:

    Just get the supercharger and all will be fine like Charles says. No need to get different headers. Ours is already the best stock ones in the market from the factory and am sure can handle the supercharger just as well, if not better, than aftermarket ones. I say if you have 1K to blow, just spend that extra 4K and get a supercharger since money would be no object if you can afford 1K extra, why not 4K more?

  5. Marko says:

    are 07 stock manifolds or headers. I think they are not a manifold, Jason?

  6. Patrick – Sorry man – no dyno comparison (yet).
    Charles – Good to know – sorry that they didn’t work for you.
    Marko – I think it’s semantics. I believe that all headers are technically manifolds…but not all manifolds are headers. In any case, the term “manifold” is used loosely here.
    Mickey and mk – Fans agree – the stock setup is fine.

  7. Mickey says:

    Jason out of both the 07 and 10 Tundra books they list them as exhaust manifolds not headers. I still like them as headers myself.

    • Mickey – Thanks for looking that up man – I think it’s one of those deals where both terms are basically correct, only there’s some technical nuance that most of us aren’t aware of. If I ever find out what the difference is, I’ll be sure to report back! 🙂

  8. […] this? Should You Add Headers To Your Tundra? | Tundra Headquarters __________________ Roger L. Live Life […]

  9. Marko says:

    Well…A manifold typically collects all exhaust port gases from one side of a V8 engine in one large box (manifold), mounted on the head, some times with small/short gallies. You know, the cast iron jobs on your ’69 350 Windsor. Headers are typically seperate exhaust tubes connected directly to the head at the port. Like your ’78 KZ 900. There.

  10. RED says:

    I added Doug Thorley long tube headers to my 08 5.7 and I noticed a lot more power in the mid to high rpm range. I did not loose that much low end until I put on a banks single exhaust. With just the headers I went from 308 HP and 308 Torque to 325HP and 330 Torque. I still need to dyno with the intake and exhaust added. By the way those numbers are to the rear wheels.

  11. Marko – That’s the technically correct definition, but manufacturers still use that term to describe fairly sophisticated header-like manifolds (i.e. the Tundra). If I think about intake manifolds, some are just big boxes, and some route air to particular cylinders in a particular manner. I don’t know the answer, but my gut is that “all headers are manifolds, but not all manifolds are headers.”

  12. Marko says:

    Thanks Jason, a few more posts and I think I’ll get it. BTW great job w/ the site.

  13. Marko – Thank you! Please don’t take my comments the wrong way – I think your definition is probably correct, just reflecting on the inconsistency from the auto manufacturers. 🙂

  14. Cole says:

    Saw a video where Doug Thorley headers added 19 rwhp with the supercharger kit. Google “Doug Thorley supercharged Tundra” or utube it. There is a before and after video on utube.

  15. 07tundra says:

    Hey guys! ok so i was looking into buying some new jba headers for my 07 4.0 tundra but you guys are scaring me away, so adding this wont do anything at all or? i mean i already have a cai tbs nd exhaust in my truck next step was headers but im confused now. their only about 400bucks if its going to make a decent difference ill go for it or else i wont what do you guys think???

  16. Jason (Admin) says:

    07Tundra – Headers can help, but not always with off-the-line grunt. You may find that top-end performance improves, and you may even find that the torque curve “shifts” away from lower RPMs…is it going to make a decent difference? Yes. In the way you want them to? Maybe. What about spending a little more on a UniChip tuner? You can get a guaranteed bump in performance and then re-program the tuner for headers if you decide to go that route later.

  17. Charlie says:

    Hey guys, I just bought a used 04 Tundra crew cab with 30,000 miles. I had a silverado as my first truck and this trucks kicks ass! I’ve only put a K&N intake on it and a magnmaflow muffler, 3″ IN(center) and 3″ dual (out), so there’s not much done to it but it hauls ass. I’m 20 years old, in college so I’m basically broke. I want to add a few things to up the horses and rpm’s. Is it worth it to get headers on my truck and if so what kind? Thanks

  18. Jason (Admin) says:

    Charlie – If you’ve got limited funds, I’d recommend air intake, exhaust system, and then Unichip tuner.

  19. michael says:

    jw wats the best headers to go with im looking for long tubes too

  20. David says:

    I need some help with something. I have a 2010 tundra 5.7L crewmax truck. I’m wondering if its worth putting JBA header’s on my truck? I’m planning on putting a TRD cold air intake and an exhaust on it too. Now the truck is still under warranty and the wife made me get the 7 year 100K extended warranty with it as well. What are y’alls thoughts to this? Thanks.

  21. […] Should You Add Headers To Your Tundra? | Tundra Headquarters __________________ Supratwins/TRD-X Jim Gone to a higher plain of existence! Need help […]

  22. David says:

    @ TRD-X.

    Ya I’m just wondering if its worth putting headers on the truck?

  23. Jason (Admin) says:

    David – In a word, no. The cost/benefit isn’t there when compared to the Unichip tuner, air intake, exhaust, or of course the supercharger.

  24. Bill says:

    Hey Jason…

    I just bought a 2011 Toyota Tundra Double Cab SR5 with 4.6L V-8 (2 whl drive)…

    YES, I should have held out for a 4WD, but caved to a REALLY GREAT deal…

    So now I need to make this work best. NOT looking for hi end speed, but want to make sure I can handle low end performance in mud, snow & ice…

    I just replaced my “stock tires” (255 Bridgestones) with better grip tires (275 65R 18 BFG KOs). Now looking at “best cost-effective” performance enhancers…

    Already ruled out headers (your feedback threads), but how about dual exhaust, chip, supercharger (?), air intake, etc…

    What do recommend to enhance LOW END TORQUE (HP, Torque, gas mileage & “sound – rumble”)

    Thanks much…

    “WildBill”… : > )

    • Jason (Admin) says:

      WildBill – If it were me and I were in your shoes, it would be:

      K&N air filter, unless you can find an air intake that fits the 4.6L that *isn’t* a K&N air intake kit, as I wasn’t too impressed with their kit (but their filter is great)
      muffler (Dynomax is loud, but the power gain was great – Borla is always nice, as are Magnaflow and Flowmaster)
      unichip tuner – however, I just read another comment saying that UniChip isn’t making chips right now or something

      BTW – I’m a Colorado resident and a huge 2wd truck fan. You can go a lot of places with 2wd – I’ve done it. 🙂

  25. Kevin says:

    What’s the difference between shorty headers and long tube headers? The obvious of course is the ones are longer. But why? I’m looking at the Doug Thorely Shorty Headers for an 08 5.7L. I have ordered and RMBP dual exhaust and a Volant CAI that would be paired with them. Should I get the headers since you said “stacking” performance mods will all work better together? I’m kinda uninformed on this stuff but I’m trying to research as much as possible. Also can you recommend a chip? I found this on It’s made by GFChips. Supposedly it’s usually $400 but they have it for $70. here’s the link. Any help would be great.

    • Anonymous says:

      I looked at that gf chip and it looks like a waste of money. If you read the notes at bottom they read as follows.

      * Based on testing performed on a 2012 Toyota Camry. Data
      stated is empirical and not a guarantee of similar results
      † Based on testing performed on a 2009 Mercedes Benz CL63. Data
      stated is empirical and not a guarantee of similar results

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