Wish there was a way you could add more power to your high-performance vehicle with less effort, while reducing underhood temperatures at the same time? An invention called header wrap does just that, insulating your engine bay from heat and protecting sensitive components while making your engine more efficient. Often seen used on race cars and weekend track warriors, header wrap is a simple product but can have a noticeable improvement to your engine’s performance. Along with keeping your engine temperatures a bit cooler, header wrap can help gases flow out quicker.
If you’re searching for the best header wraps, you’ve come to the right place. Here are our top picks so you can improve performance, cooling, and even the looks of your engine bay.
For more information on the best header wraps, refer to our table of contents.
Table of contents
- 1. Editor's Pick: ARTR Titanium Lava Fiber Exhaust Header Wrap
- 2. Design Engineering Exhaust/Header Wrap Kit (010110)
- 3. Thermo-Tec Copper Exhaust Wrap (11032)
- 4. Stark Industries Colored Exhaust Header Wrap
- 5. Moroso Header Wrap (80808)
- What is header wrap?
- How does header wrap boost power?
- How do I wrap my headers?
1. Editor's Pick: ARTR Titanium Lava Fiber Exhaust Header Wrap
Thermal wrap for your headers made from a volcano? Not exactly, but it’s not far off, either. This header wrap from ARTR is made from what the company calls lava fiber, a material normally called basalt fiber that takes crushed up basalt rock from volcanic formations. It’s reheated and re-melted and then forced through an extruding machine much like fiberglass. It’s then woven into header wrap, as well as other uses like a substitute for rebar.
Two 50-foot rolls give you plenty of length to ensure your entire header is covered, with a two-inch width to help balance coverage and the number of times you have to wrap it. Able to stand up to 1,800-degrees Fahrenheit of direct heat, it also comes in a titanium coloring that shouldn’t fade with time and use. The kit comes with 20 locking ties that let you secure the wrap in place, though the company does recommend purchasing project-specific clamps.
2. Design Engineering Exhaust/Header Wrap Kit (010110)
Fiberglass wraps are more affordable than other choices like titanium and lava, but are still able to withstand 1,200-degree direct heat and up to 2,000-degrees radiant. The cost savings means less insulation capability as well, though it is still more than sufficient to give you the benefits of using header wrap in the first place. This kit from insulation specialists DEI comes with everything you need to wrap your headers and keep them looking good, including two rolls of tape and a total of 12 stainless steel locking ties.
This kit also comes with a can of high-temp silicone coating spray. The spray is designed to coat your header wrap, sealing it from outside contaminants and helping to protect it from fraying. It also protects the wrap itself and improves its appearance to give you a more finished look under the hood of your performance car. You can choose from black or beige wrap as well as three different colors of spray to make it just right for you.
3. Thermo-Tec Copper Exhaust Wrap (11032)
Thermo-Tec calls itself the original maker of exhaust insulating wrap, starting its performance improving business more than 30 years ago. The company says it’s used by racers like Jack Rousch and Joe Gibbs, and has even been in orbit around the earth. Made in the U.S., Thermo-Tech’s Generation II header wrap improves heat resistance up to 30 percent thanks to its Thermal-Conduction-Technology.
The header wrap is 1/16-inch thick but is able to withstand up to 2,000 degrees to protect your engine bay and help you make more horsepower. While traditional wraps need soaking in water to help ease installation, this one doesn’t. Though copper colored, the manufacturer says that it uses a highly texturized silica-based material with a patented coating that is meant to provide better heat distribution. Thermo-Tec also suggests wrapping with quarter-inch overlapping instead of double-wrapping, helping you to use less and save time when you wrap your headers.
4. Stark Industries Colored Exhaust Header Wrap
This header and exhaust wrap from Stark Industries lets you show off in your engine bay by giving you options others don’t. While most header wraps are available in one or two colors, usually dark and slightly less dark, this wrap offers you numerous choices including yellow, red, and even pink so that your engine’s exhaust headers can look just as good as the rest of your customized and modified engine bay.
If you’ve got the goods you might as well show off, and this wrap, able to withstand up to 1,000 degrees, lets you do exactly that. The manufacturer says that its fiberglass material has a high resistance to abrasion, as well as spills and vibration-related breakdown. The rolls of wrap include six stainless ties to help you fix it in place, so more may be needed depending on the layout of your headers and how many cylinders you have to cover.
5. Moroso Header Wrap (80808)
Moroso has been making performance parts since 1968, when the company founder and a legendary drag racer decided to make his own performance gear. Moroso header wrap uses a woven ceramic material, silica-based, that works extremely well to reduce the amount of heat that leaves your exhaust as well as protecting nearby components. The material is highly pliable, meaning that it will bend and conform to the curves, bends, and all of the fun parts of your headers, which is crucial to making the insulation work the way it is supposed to work.
Available in one- and two-inch widths to best balance being easy to apply with easier coverage, this header wrap comes in 50-foot rolls. Because it’s made from a ceramic material but backed with fiberglass, itching from installation can still happen, but it should be less likely. Like the rest of these wraps, the modern materials contain no asbestos like they used in the old days, giving you one less thing to worry about.
What is header wrap?
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Header wraps are a group of high-temperature capable fabrics that are meant to wrap around your exhaust system, mummy-style. Made from fiberglass, ceramics, and even fabric created from volcanic rocks, these insulating fabrics keep the heat inside your exhaust system, instead of letting it radiate out into your engine bay. By doing that they lower underhood temperatures and make your engine more efficient and more powerful, but they also help stop spark plug wire melting, and lessen the risk of you burning yourself when working on a hot engine.
How does header wrap boost power?
Exhaust flows based on two things: the engine pumping it, and the differential with the temperature outside. The first one robs power, while the second uses physics to your advantage through something called scavenging. Faster-flowing exhaust pulls the burned air/fuel mix out of the cylinders, reducing friction and pumping losses. A more efficient engine is a more powerful one since you’re wasting less of that precious combustion.
That’s not the only way it boosts power, though. By keeping the heat inside and out of your engine bay, your engine can breathe cooler air. It won’t be heated up by the hot engine bay, and that makes your intake air charge denser. Denser air means more oxygen, which means more power.
How do I wrap my headers?
In this case it literally means wrapping your exhaust headers, layer by layer. Obviously, that’s easiest to do outside of the vehicle, so think long and hard about it the next time you buy new headers. If yours are already installed, it might be easier to remove them than to try and navigate the nest of snakes under your hood.
Once you’ve got that done, clean the surface and if they’re old, inspect for rust. Header wrap can speed up corrosion, so if your headers are already wearing thin then you might be wasting your time. Start with an initial wrap around the primary tube at the exhaust port and secure with a steel tie or clamp. Remember this will get hot, so zip ties won’t do. Then wrap using 1/4- to 1/2-inch overlap and keep tension on the wrap. Tighten it every few turns and use more clamps as required, because a loose wrap is useless. Once you’re done, secure the wrap and reinstall the headers to your car’s engine.
It may smell or smoke the first few times it gets hot. Inspect the wrap periodically to make sure it’s in one piece, because a loose wrap can get caught in moving engine bay parts. Oh, and don’t wrap your catalytic converter. It gets hot enough as is.
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