Short Tube vs Long Tube Headers – Which is Best for Your Exhaust?

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You don’t need a fancy engineering degree to know that the first stop for exhaust gases exiting the vehicle’s engine is the headers. So, it’s no surprise that your headers’ design and makeup are key factors in your vehicle’s overall performance at varying RPMs. And choosing the perfect headers for your build will make a huge impact on your horsepower and torque.

Short vs Long Tube - Which is Better?

It’s very satisfying to listen to your engine on idle and to feel its powerful rhythm. But as soon as you step on the gas and hit the road, your headers come into play. And they will make or brake your ride’s performance. That is why you want to have the right headers.

And you have two basic options when choosing headers: short tube or long tube.

What sets them apart is the length of the exhaust port pipes. For shorty headers, the port pipes actually merge into a single exhaust pipe in a much shorter distance. For long tube headers, the exhaust pipes are much longer and merge farther out. Because of this, each design impacts back pressure in the exhaust system in a different way.

Longer port pipes result in lower exhaust back pressure. This means improved oxygen intake and a boost in horsepower. You can read more about back pressure here.

But don’t go thinking that long tube headers always outperform shorty headers. It’s not that simple. Horsepower and torque output depends on the RPM range.

Long tube headers build a ton of power in the mid to high RPM range. They are the best option for high-rev vehicles, and track terrors. But they aren’t necessarily street legal, depending on emission standards. And usually, long tube headers are difficult to install. All the extra room they need inside the engine compartment may call for some costly reconfiguration.

Shorty headers perform best in the idle to mid-RPM range. This makes them the perfect headers for vehicles that rely on low-RPM power, like a daily commuter or a work pickup that sees a lot of towing and hauling.

What Brands Are Worth Considering?

Our advice is to go with proven and trusted brand names for your performance upgrades. Industry leaders like Gibson Headers, Kooks Headers, Hedman Hedders, Hooker Headers, Pacesetter Headers, and BBK Headers stand behind top-quality materials and guarantee their products meet the highest standards.

PaceSetter Quik-Trip Long Tube Headers BBK Shorty Tuned-Length Exhaust Headers Gibson Performance Headers
perf-headers-1 perf-headers-2 perf-headers-3
CNC-machined 3/8" thick steel flanges fit the exhaust port profiles for superior seal and flow. Flash-controlled 16-gauge carbon steel primaries for better durability compared to light gauge stainless steel. Made from mandrel-bent tubing with thick die-stamped flanges. The headers will give you 8 to 15 additional HP gains, and come packaged with gaskets and the hardware needed for installation. Performance-tuned and engine-matched with performance gains at the lower to midrange RPM highway speeds. Perfect for lowered or raised pickups and tow vehicles. Available in variety of finishes.
Special Powers:
- 3/8" thick steel flanges
- superior seal and flow
- 16-gauge carbon steel primaries
Special Powers:
- direct fit design
- mandrel bent tubing
- 8 to 15 additional HP
Special Powers:
- performance tuned
- gains at low to mid-range RPMs
- variety of finishes
Price: from $310.30
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Price: from $370.97
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Price: from $565.97
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Still can't decide which headers are right for your ride? Drop us a comment below and we'll help you figure it out!

19 Responses to Short Tube vs Long Tube Headers – Which is Best for Your Exhaust?

  1. Chad says:

    2002 Chevy 1500hd 6.0 vortec

  2. Art says:

    Would shorty headers be better for a 1996 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 with a 6 speed manual and the 2nd Generation LT1 ?

  3. Art Coyle says:

    Would shorty headers be better for a 1996 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 with a 6 speed manual and the 2nd Generation LT1 ?

  4. Chris says:

    Are shorty or long tubes better for a 2015 Dodge Charger RT?

  5. Jacob Feyerherm says:

    Short or long for dodge 5.9 magnum 1500

  6. Anthony says:

    2013 chrysler 300s awd 345 hemi

  7. Marc says:

    1986 gmc jimmy 350
    Mostly for off-road and driving around town

  8. Omar Hernandez says:

    What headers would be best for my 2013 mustang gt i already have a borla catback exhaust system on it?

  9. Alex says:

    1985 Chevy k20 reg cab long bed 5.3 LS swap left fuel injected. Will have close to the biggest streetable cam. Will get revved to 6000 rpm often.SM465 manual transmission,np205 transfer case, 4.11 gears on 37s with 4-6″ lift. Will be mostly street driven with some off road and towing.

  10. Angel gonzalez says:

    I have a 96 impala, i have done my differential to 373’s, trans upgrade and exhaust. 2.5 pipes, an x pipe with turn downs right after the flowmasters. Dont know if long tubes or shorties is best for my car? Its not my daily but could b somewhere down the line. What do you recommend?

  11. Marc Roman says:

    2007 Dodge Charger R/T 5.7 HEMI

  12. Mike Bournazakis says:

    I have a 2011 SRT8 challenger 6M. I want a more agressive sound for my car, I have flowmaster 40 mufflers already which sound real nice. Do i go with Shorty’s or long tube headers?

  13. Greg says:

    Considering hedman shorty headers for a ’66 grand prix with a 389. Thinking long tube would put out too much heat so close to the starter. Maybe shorty would be easier to install and pipe? Just a weekend cruiser that’s never close to high RPM range. Any thoughts?

  14. Tim Rice says:

    69 C10, LS3. Shorties, or long tube headers

  15. Larry Weaver says:

    My dad’s truck could use some new headers, so it’s good to know the difference between long tube and shorty headers. I didn’t know that long tubes are the best option for high-rev vehicles, but need to be street legal depending on emission standards. My dad and I are thinking of getting some pacemaker headers for his truck.

  16. Brandon says:

    06 NA pontiac solstice, shorty or long tube? Its a non turbo one

  17. tom says:

    Ive got a 3000gt non turbo but im planning on putting a turbo in soon but wanna get headers first. What headers would you recommend?

  18. Dwight says:

    Which is better for a 2007 jeep grand Cherokee srt8 with cams installed?

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