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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Frontier Enthusiats!

I've been seeing a lot of stainless steel exhaust headers for about $150 on eBay. I spotted one for about $20 less, but I can't find it anymore. They all appear to be the same despite the price differences.

Much to my surprise I spotted what I believe to be an identical product on Amazon for only $100.

Has anyone tried these? Any fitment issues?





And finally a link to see it on Amazon:


I plan to replace the original catalytic converters with an upgrade from Eastern as they are bad while I'm in there. I have some cutting and fitting skills so I believe I'll be able to put a less restrictive converter in (made in the U.S.A.) by fitting it into the old bracket ends. It's not a high flow, it just has a bigger in and out to make it less restrictive. I don't know if anyone has tried it yet.

I look forward to the feedback.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Actually, I found a review under one of the other listings for these identical headers.

Rated at 2 stars between a 1 and 3 star review being averaged.

For the issues, these stars are generous.

Holes were too small. Gaskets didn't fit. EGR had to be heated and bent to move over 2" to fit.

I did find a better rated reviewed item for only $36 more dollars.
Images:


There are a few more pictures on the link on Amazon. I couldn't seem to get those image locations to make it easier to see on the thread.
 

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you usually get what you pay for with those cheaply made ebay headers... they're usually all the same factory out of china. it'd be a miracle if it fit w/o issues. i also just read that our trucks benefit almost nothing from headers because apparently the factory manifolds are very good already, not sure about the cats though. no idea if you'd have enough room for bigger ones but i would shy away from 'high flo' cats because they don't burn up the exhaust enough and really stink out anyone behind you, and depending on the state you live in might not pass emissions.
definitely let us know all about the install if you go for it... the more pics the better! i'd love to find some good power adders for this rig...
 

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I have to agree. Headers is one thing I would not cut cost.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Some history, roadblocks, and a phew, I'll pass!

I have to agree. Headers is one thing I would not cut cost.
This all got started in my minds eye 2 years ago when I saw that my catalytic converters were starting to get weak on live data. I knew they were going to go.

I wasn't certain, but I thought I was trying to add a thread in the 1998-2004 Nissan Frontier forum if that makes any difference. It's just an iron bar, which immediately goes into a catalytic converter. By putting these headers, or something like it on, the 1st set of catalytic converters are deleted. Replace the next set with quality ones and I should stop having my check engine light turn on.

I was very surprised. In the last week the o2 sensor pattern downstream looked like the cats were behaving themselves so I am going to get inspected a few months ahead. Maybe they like the winter?

Yes, I agree, headers is not something you can't cheap out on without issues, but while these are cheap, they are also the only ones I've found for sale at all...excepting some $400ish ones which deleted both sets of cats, and I don't want cats that far back and then you have to run extra wires on your oxygen sensors...cats that far back aren't as effective...it might be an emissions nightmare.

you usually get what you pay for with those cheaply made ebay headers... they're usually all the same factory out of china. it'd be a miracle if it fit w/o issues. i also just read that our trucks benefit almost nothing from headers because apparently the factory manifolds are very good already, not sure about the cats though. no idea if you'd have enough room for bigger ones but i would shy away from 'high flo' cats because they don't burn up the exhaust enough and really stink out anyone behind you, and depending on the state you live in might not pass emissions.
definitely let us know all about the install if you go for it... the more pics the better! i'd love to find some good power adders for this rig...
Don't worry, I didn't plan on high-flow cats. I know they just mean you won't pass your emissions. I don't know how all the guys on the YouTube shows get away with them...or if they really are.

I was just planning on a bigger bodied catalytic converter, same high number of cells, just a bigger space to allow the engine to breathe through them a little easier.
 

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IIRC, longtube headers return more on your investment. I think these are shorties, which aren't as effective. Thoughts?
 

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high flo cats passing emissions depend on where you live. some states don't even have emissions testing, lucky folks. some are brutal and not only do OBD2 check for O2 but also a visual check, and sniffing the pipe. in those cases what those guys do is mod anyway and just 'stock out' when it's emissions testing time, then when that's done they swap their performance parts back on. where i live they only do the obd2 check, so there are lots of folks here that are catless and pass, as long as they can trick the computer to not throw a cel, which is super easy, any tune will disable O2 CEL upon request. I hate when i get stuck behind some modded car that obviously has no cats (or a high flo cat) because I can't breathe...! nowadays i wouldnt want to have such a stinky vehicle. what i REALLY want is a supercharger for this truck, but it seems like no one makes them any more. but considering how much they cost, i wouldn't be getting one any time soon anyways...
 

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Yes, I agree, headers is not something you can't cheap out on without issues, but while these are cheap, they are also the only ones I've found for sale at all...
Doesn't justify compromising your vehicle with cheaply made crap simply because it's the only thing available... you said you agree about not going "cheap" yet you're looking for someone to tell you "yeah, those $150 headers are legit!" haha

I don't know how all the guys on the YouTube shows get away with them...or if they really are.
When I had a non-legal daily driver vehicle back in the day, I easily "passed" smog every time I had to renew. "Easily" as in knowing the right people who can pass vehicles, if you know what I mean ::wink::
 

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Yep agree with everyone's comments. Check out Car ID (one of our sponsors) for your '04 and can PM them for the best price.

You are looking at 4-10 bills plus labor, depending on what you go with for stainless steel.

Good luck in your search.
 

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I've run on a street car a set of cheap headers (Thorleys) and a set of nice headers (TTI). In an attempt to make the cheap headers better I took 'em to the ceramic coating place and had them ceramic coated inside and out. By the time I had them good enough I'd spent enough that it was a waste of money and I should have just bought good headers to start with. Had to go to the more expensive headers when the newer, bigger transmission didn't clear at the collectors, those were much better products with thicker flanges and they sealed better.

Personally I would not put merely chromed headers on. Ceramic coated headers help reduce engine-bay heat, and quality headers will have at least 1/4" thick flanges, if not 3/8". Cheap headers won't seal well against the block and will heat up the engine bay, causing problems for all those lines, hoses, and wire looms.
 

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Perhaps obvious, but unless headers are plug'n'play...it will require custom work to attach rest of exhaust system. Do it once, do it right. Cheap headers don't last very long...I know this from my wrenching days.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Perhaps obvious, but unless headers are plug'n'play...it will require custom work to attach rest of exhaust system. Do it once, do it right. Cheap headers don't last very long...I know this from my wrenching days.
I've done several exhaust installs. I wouldn't say I'm good at it from the perspective of doing it quickly to get paid well at it at work, but from a DIY perspective, I'll end with a good result even if it takes me a little longer to get there.

Exhaust manifolds, I've found, to be the most frustrating even with things easily come off with a little penetrating spray. Even when they come off easily enough, the fact that none of the bolts ever seem to be tapered to make them start easily is my nemesis. In fact, when dealing with them, I'm usually being about 50% productive in comparison to flag rates.

As far as cheap, and not lasting, phew, thanks! I didn't know!

Now when it comes to shaping pipes before being welded, I'm not that great, so if I can purchase things which don't need a lot of modification, I'll be overjoyed. When it comes to welding while I'm not picture perfect, I get good penetration, and generally a few pin holes which I'll miss repeatedly on the reweld, lol, especially when welding in blind spots.

However, as far as flag rates go, while I'm not 200% efficient like a mentor of mine, I'm sometimes 133% for the welding portion of exhausts. ::smile::
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
The competition

IIRC, longtube headers return more on your investment. I think these are shorties, which aren't as effective. Thoughts?
I've been looking around, and I found on CARiD a number of manifold systems, as you can check out here:
Nissan Frontier Short, Long, and OEM style headers.

It turns out that the Amazon and eBay headers, which are all most likely made in the same factory in China, are all considered long tube headers. The Short Tube headers, which come stock on these vehicles are absolutely horrible from what I know of exhaust headers. So I'm not sure how people have said they don't help much...if they don't either Nissan did a better job at what's normally a lousy concept, or even the longer tubed headers still aren't tuned for pressure waves.


And Flowmaster looks like Dormans's copy of "OEM":

Still Trying to get images to stick.

As you can see, the moment the the exhaust is out, they're all sharing the same pipe. I'm sure this is causing all kinds of chaos in the pulse waves. I could be wrong, somehow in these tiny spaces, perhaps Nissan pulled off the math to strike a good balance, but usually these aren't any good.

As you may know a good exhaust improves intake. It's the exhaust leaving the cylinders and the slight overlap between exhaust and intake which actually pulls the intake charge. In fact, the exhaust creating momentum for the intake is 8 times the force of the cylinder going down to create draw or pull. With these mess of headers, I'd think that a lot of the wave forms out of one exhaust would be inharmoniously interrupting their brother cylinder wave forms. Exhaust doesn't just flow out and intake doesn't just flow in, the pressure waves in a bad design can actually lose a lot of this momentum and energy. (every exhaust and intake includes flow in the opposite direction, you don't have to take my word for it, buy some books from David Vizard on Amazon. Flow can simultaneously be in opposite directions depending what part you're at, the edge, the center, etc.)

According to the labels of the exhaust headers on CARiD, like the eBay and Amazon headers, they are considered long tube headers.

What's interesting, is the original exhaust headers are hard to even call headers, the way they immediately go into one pipe, then hook up to the cats. Also interesting, the Magnaflow catalytic converters I was originally looking at at $260 per bank bolt in, while there are several options to replace the manifolds along with the 1st set of catalytic converters with it all in one piece. I'd think forcing the header and catalytic converters to be replaced at the same time would be a way to make the job even harder.

Above are actually the short tube headers available. Magnaflow include would could be called medium tube headers in a way, as they give separate tubes for each runner unlike the original, then they collect together at the catalytic converter as seen below:



CorrectedDoug Thorley headers at about $459 on CARiD and on Amazon are ceramic coated inside
 

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Not sure true long tubes are made for the 3.3? There are stock manifolds, shorties and long tubes for 4.0, IIRC.

My experiences w/ cheap headers was a l-o-n-g time ago w/ a Ford small block. I recall them lasting maybe 1-1.5 yrs before there was a hole(s) due to rust. I always painted/treated them prior to installing, but it didn't matter. This was before China existed. LOL
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
HAHA! The ceramic coated ones are Thorleys, like you were mentioning! ~$465

I've run on a street car a set of cheap headers (Thorleys) and a set of nice headers (TTI). In an attempt to make the cheap headers better I took 'em to the ceramic coating place and had them ceramic coated inside and out. By the time I had them good enough I'd spent enough that it was a waste of money and I should have just bought good headers to start with. Had to go to the more expensive headers when the newer, bigger transmission didn't clear at the collectors, those were much better products with thicker flanges and they sealed better.

Personally I would not put merely chromed headers on. Ceramic coated headers help reduce engine-bay heat, and quality headers will have at least 1/4" thick flanges, if not 3/8". Cheap headers won't seal well against the block and will heat up the engine bay, causing problems for all those lines, hoses, and wire looms.
So you'd like then the latest higher quality pipes I found. I mentioned them, but the picture didn't stick. I guess Amazon is protecting links to their pictures. Hey, I may be helping them sell some just by talking about it, the least they could do is let me use the picture, lol.



Before I started this thread, I planned on headers which would eliminate 2 cats, and replace the secondary catalytic converters with aftermarket wide mouthed ones, since that made so much power on my Chevy Prizm (though this car originally had just 1). When I started this, I thought the first catalytic converters were "secondary", but it turns out having inspected the actual truck, that to do my plan, I'd need to extend all 8 wires for the downstream oxygen sensors. I truly think this is a pain in the neck, and is very difficult to achieve unless you are good at soldering, AND finding a way to secure the wiring safely away from the exhausts (I'm good at wiring, but even being good, it'd have to be perfect to keep the PCM happy). I think to make this wire placement possible would require drilling or welding up hooks so it was even possible to secure wiring this much father down stream. I'd highly recommend not even doing this exhaust mod if you ever want to offroad. The original downstream O2 sensor positions are pretty deep and safe, the new positions would be much more vulnerable to what you're driving over if you're offroading.

Maybe I'm worrying too much, the secondary catalytic converters are actually pretty close to the wheels. You'd really have to drive over something big and awful and not put your tires over the obstacle to make this a problem.

I've never drilled into pipe to install more O2 sensor bungs, in general, I hate drilling metal. It gets expensive quickly...so the original thought I had for aftermarket, but very strong 400 cell catalytic converters (high flow would be about 200 cells, so this should be emissions friendly) won't be as easy unless I switch to a catalytic converter which includes an O2 sensor bung in the body of the catalytic converter.

Has anyone ever run an O2 sensor in the body of the catalytic converter when it wasn't originally designed that way? I really don't see that design often...likely almost not at all...and when I do it's usually an aftermarket catalytic converter where we just weld the bung seal so it can't fall off and leave the O2 sensor in the pipe's bung a little behind the catalytic converter. My best guess on how this would effect things is that it'd make the sensor more sensitive to issues with the catalytic converter. I like the environment, but I don't want making passing emissions too difficult either.
 

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Just looking at those headers, they neck-down too much at the collectors, or else the primary tubes are bigger than they need to be. Granted, exhaust condenses/contracts as it cools (in the 50s and 60s it wasn't uncommon for exhaust pipes to narrow 1/4" to 1/2" after the mufflers) but at this point in the exhaust system the products are still in active combustion and expansion rather than cooling down and condensing.

Extending the wiring for the various sensors doesn't have to be too horrible if you can find both the same and the opposite-gender connectors for the one on the end of the harness, to build what basically amount to extension cables. Additionally you don't necessarily have to use the bosses welded to the new headers, you can plug those and have new bosses welded just past the collectors on the headpipes.

I had installed a long-tube header on a '97 Stratus with a 2.4L DOHC I4. The header was actually for a Dodge Neon 2.0L DOHC but the exhaust ports and studs were the same. I did have to plug the O2 sensor hole on the collector (actually used a bolt with some exhaust-rated threadlocker and ground the head off so it would clear a structural member) and had the exhaust shop weld-on a new boss just past, worked well enough.

I suppose I should point out that good headers have equal-length primaries. If they don't then you may not really be getting much over the stock manifolds. The old Thorleys I had were so old they were still marketed as "Doug Thorley #52", which I assume is the 52nd model of header that his company had designed and sold. I really couldn't say if current ones are better, worse, or the same.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Just looking at those headers, they neck-down too much at the collectors, or else the primary tubes are bigger than they need to be. Granted, exhaust condenses/contracts as it cools (in the 50s and 60s it wasn't uncommon for exhaust pipes to narrow 1/4" to 1/2" after the mufflers) but at this point in the exhaust system the products are still in active combustion and expansion rather than cooling down and condensing.

Extending the wiring for the various sensors doesn't have to be too horrible if you can find both the same and the opposite-gender connectors for the one on the end of the harness, to build what basically amount to extension cables. Additionally you don't necessarily have to use the bosses welded to the new headers, you can plug those and have new bosses welded just past the collectors on the headpipes.

I had installed a long-tube header on a '97 Stratus with a 2.4L DOHC I4. The header was actually for a Dodge Neon 2.0L DOHC but the exhaust ports and studs were the same. I did have to plug the O2 sensor hole on the collector (actually used a bolt with some exhaust-rated threadlocker and ground the head off so it would clear a structural member) and had the exhaust shop weld-on a new boss just past, worked well enough.

I suppose I should point out that good headers have equal-length primaries. If they don't then you may not really be getting much over the stock manifolds. The old Thorleys I had were so old they were still marketed as "Doug Thorley #52", which I assume is the 52nd model of header that his company had designed and sold. I really couldn't say if current ones are better, worse, or the same.
Due to how close the original headers are to the frame, I think on the 2004 Nissan Frontier there will never be a tuned header with equal length tubes to the collector.

The Thorleys have a much bigger collector than most available coming in at 1.75" instead of 1.5". The only one with a larger diameter for the collector is the magnaflow at 2.5", which I actually think is too large. All headers I've seen have primaries at 1.5", identical to stock.



This would be the simplest of installs, but Magnaflow is well known for catalytic converters which don't last or don't work well enough to pass emissions at first install and coming in at over $700 it's very hard to swallow something which won't last. (Looking deeper into it, unlike other listings, they're selling each side separetly. They appear to be about $1,200!)

I'd have to hear a lot of first hand experiences of it making power and passing emissions to go for it AND that it lasted. (I said this when I thought $700 was for the set and not just 1 side! I'll do all kinds of custom fabrication before I spend this kind of money.)

And of course, the Magnaflows would mean if I were to delete catalytic converters they'd be the 2nd ones down the line instead of the first ones down the line...the worst part in all this is these catalytic converters are one with the headers unlike stock, where if there's an issue with any other plan, replacing the catalytic converters again would be a problem by itself.

Someone mentioned always painting their headers. I assume if it's ceramic coated this is unnecessary? Since only the Thorleys come ceramic coated, if I select anything else, I could use paint suggestions. These headers do get splashed on when ever you go through puddles. Sure there is a rubber skirt mostly covering them in the wheel wheel, but I'm sure some misting at least gets to them regularly as it's not a sealed space - probably to help with cooling.

I'm inclined to go with a paint, which is the same color as the intake I select. I'm more interested in knowing what paint is good...actually, mild steel paints easily enough, but what about stainless steel?
 

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If they're ceramic they don't need to be painted. If you get ones that are full-polish they'll almost look chromed, slightly duller but still shiny.

I suppose that since I'm used to the V8 world when it comes to headers I'm biased, but I was accustomed to 2.25" or 2.5" collectors for smallblocks, and 2.5" to 3" collectors for mild-mannered bigblocks. I guess I would have expected 2" collectors on a large V6. After all, can always neck-down to 1.5" or 1.75" for a smaller factory exhaust system where the headpipe flanges meet the collectors.

As for equal-length primaries, you would be surprised what they manage to design in small spaces. I've seen Chrysler A-bodies with bigblocks with tuned headers. It's certainly not easy but the longer the headers the easier it is to achieve as that extra length means more room for the rearmost primary to stuff the slack needed for equal length.
 

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Header paint is likely nearly worthless...at least it was for my Ford small block aftermarket headers back in the day. I went w/ black. Though the smell of it burning off over the first few miles was pretty cool. lol Temps at the headers FAR exceeds temps at the muffler >>> where some paint 'might' be more useful if aluminized steel material. Go SS or ceramic FTW...if there is a win here.
:nerd:
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Half a night of internet searches later...(tired, be forewarned)

If they're ceramic they don't need to be painted. If you get ones that are full-polish they'll almost look chromed, slightly duller but still shiny.
Note from AutoBravado, I didn't quite understand this second sentence, but can you confirm that the Thorleys have that "look"?
I suppose that since I'm used to the V8 world when it comes to headers I'm biased, but I was accustomed to 2.25" or 2.5" collectors for smallblocks, and 2.5" to 3" collectors for mild-mannered bigblocks. I guess I would have expected 2" collectors on a large V6. After all, can always neck-down to 1.5" or 1.75" for a smaller factory exhaust system where the headpipe flanges meet the collectors.

As for equal-length primaries, you would be surprised what they manage to design in small spaces. I've seen Chrysler A-bodies with bigblocks with tuned headers. It's certainly not easy but the longer the headers the easier it is to achieve as that extra length means more room for the rearmost primary to stuff the slack needed for equal length.
I appreciate the comment. :) That would be way too big in this case, lol. With 1.5" for stock primaries, this Frontier would really lose lower end torque, maybe even upper RPM HP! LOL Just a mild comparison of size looking farther downstream at catback systems even the V6 4.0 engine in the next generation of Frontier do poorly with any bigger than 2.25"...the start of an exhaust needs to be smaller pipes. You don't want to sacrifice velocity for scavenging.

With the stock exhaust essentially not having primaries and it just being one pipe for a collector, barely with 2 primaries going up to at at right angles (depending on how you look at it), this may be the time, which even untuned headers would be an improvement. Your comment was still of inspiration and it caused me to do some more internet searches. No luck yet for a tuned header or even a truly long header.

(Literally, getting excited and staying up halfway through my usual sleep cycle later)
(I may have to give up editing this anymore and post it; I'll find out how well tired brain edited tomorrow, LOL!)

I'm completely mistaken. Cheap claimed as stock and OEM replacements may be an improvement on the original as I described them:

Aftermarket but possibly very similar to stock:


The original stock appear to be even worse than the above example, which I described.

Further note on a stock design image; this was an attempt to get a stock image, but even a "Nissan parts website" sends me to eBay to find "official" parts. Possible, but unlikely. More likely aftermarket. These parts being on eBay for $63, the air quotes indicate doubt they were official parts.

The closest to tuned I ever saw, so deep in the internet, I can't find a brand, or even a familiar website which sales it...pretty iffy, but they're the only "long" tube header like websites try to claim, which don't have the 1st primary super long running above while 2 shorter ones go underneath. Diamond in the rough, or too risky?
 
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