As all regular Car Tuning Tips readers know, hot air carries less oxygen than cold air. This can have a big impact on your engines performance. As most cars have an air intake in the engine bay it becomes essential to ensure that you keep these temperatures as low as possible.
One of the largest contributors to heat in the engine bay is the exhaust, and the manifold headers in particular. An exhaust wrap is a simple thermal bandage that wraps around the exhaust and acts as an insulator and helps to keep the heat transfer to a minimum.
For those that argue an exhaust wrap will cause more rapid deterioration of the exhaust we would have to concur that this is a possibility. The actual deterioration acceleration is minimal and will reduce the life of your headers from say 15 years to 13 years. In reality many people have an exhaust header with pre-existing weaknesses or extensive rust. The extra temperatures with an exhaust wrap in place will certainly highlight these weak spots and soft areas and are the cause for the rumors that exhaust wraps ruin the exhaust.
We should also stress that you cannot just use any material as an exhaust wrap. Due to the extremely high temperatures encountered, particularly on turbo charged petrol engines you will risk an engine fire if you use the wrong product. Proper performance exhaust wraps are inflammable and are rated to well above and beyond the operating temperatures of your engine.
Apply the exhaust wrap after ensuring the surface area is clean and free from rust, oil and dirt. Some choose to apply a heat proof paint such as that used on BBQ and grills before applying the wrap. The wrap needs to be tightly wound and typically every part of the exhaust will have a double thickness over it as you cover half the previous wind with the successive one.
A metal clip or similar heavy duty clip should be applied to the end to ensure that the wrap stays firmly in place. As a precaution we would recommend another clip part way along each branch to give some extra security. The last thing you want to happen is for the wrap to unwind and become entangled in your belts and pulleys.
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