Sanderson Header FAQs


Frequently Asked Questions & Tips

Does It Fit My Vehicle?

Our phones light up every day with calls from people who need to know if a certain part number fits their vehicle. Sounds simple, right? It isn't!

Since headers are always larger than the factory manifolds, and a performance exhaust system is bigger than the original, consideration for these two facts must be addressed!

Custom vehicles are often radically modified. Aftermarket steering and suspension changes, or even subframe swaps. Builders often relocate engine mounts--repositioning the engine to make more room for ignition, cooling, or accessory components. The Warranty Cards we send with our headers come back with all kinds of interesting and valuable information from our customers about specific installations. What really stands out is that most of our customers believe that some degree of modification to their vehicle is normal. We try to eliminate or limit the need for any modifications when installing our headers!

We constantly update the list of vehicles a particular header fits. Click on the APPLICATION tab in the product details for a list of common vehicles a particular header set fits.

Dipstick Blues?

It is not unusual for the dipstick that once fit the factory exhaust manifold to not accommodate your new headers. This problem is easily solved. Lokar makes a flexible dipstick kit that can be mounted in a variety of ways to clear your new headers.

Contact Lokar at 877-469-7440 or go to their website at:

Cures for Burned Plug Wires

Even the best planned plug wire installation may sometimes prevent wires interference with the header tubes.

Plug wires with ceramic boots that can take the heat offer one solution. Another possible solution comes from the use of shorter "header" plugs. Thermal plug wire sleeves (not thermal wrap applied to your headers!) may also help.

Lastly, it is important on certain engines that you specify the cylinder heads used on the application. Aftermarket and factory performance cylinder heads sometimes change the spark plug location and angle slightly, amplifying header tube interference problems. To accommodate our customers' choice in cylinder heads, we have the capability to cleanly dimple the headers during manufacture when additional clearance is required.

Just a Trim...

In our experience, the lower part of the inner fender panels on most classic trucks will need to be trimmed, Including most 50's cars. This is especially true for big block engine applications. It is also not uncommon to replace or modify accessory brackets, especially those that mount on or near the cylinder heads. The same goes for stock motor mounts, which may interfere with the collector on one or both sides of the engine.

Fortunately, there are many aftermarket sources for accessory brackets and motor mounts which both look and work better than the originals. It is a rare installation that requires custom fabricated components. Check out the descriptions and measurements in the product details for information that affects your specific engine and chassis combination. Please contact us by phone or through our Helpdesk if you need any additional information.

Getting a Head

With the advent of CNC machining and CAD software, just about anyone with the right skill set can design and manufacture a cylinder head. Because of this, we offer many variations of our headers to meet specific port flange and/or port designs. If you are using aftermarket cylinder heads, please let us know what you are using before, or when you place your order. For many applications, our website allows you to select the cylinder head you are using on the product page. You can also state in the comments box during checkout if you are using cylinder heads we have not listed.

On many applications we already have specific part numbers for certain cylinder heads, such as those with the "AP" or "DP" suffix, defining "Angle Plug" or "D-Port". If you are unsure, or your cylinder heads do not follow OEM placement of bolts, port exit, or something else, please let us know so that you receive the correct header for your application.

Cylinder Head Stud Interference

Certain aftermarket cylinder head studs are longer or larger than factory-type bolts. In some instances these longer studs might interfere with the bottom of the header flange. The easiest fix is to first verify the studs near the exhaust flange are installed to the proper depth. If the studs are installed to the proper depth and interference exists, you have two choices:

  1. You can grind the base of the header flange for clearance.  However, if your headers are coated, you will damage the coating and the headers will need to be re-coated. This is not a viable or cost-effective choice in most situations.
  2. You can grind down the tops of the studs slightly which offers an alternative to solution #1. DO NOT GRIND INTO THE NUT ON THE HEAD STUD! If you have excessive interference, please contact us to discuss your alternatives.

50-State Smog Legal

Sanderson Headers are NOT smog legal in states or municipalities that have adopted various standards of emission reduction. You need to check your local or regional laws and ordinances regarding what aftermarket exhaust system products are legal. It is the user/installer's responsibility to verify compliance.

Thermal Tape on the Street?

Many questions surround the use of thermal wrap products seen on competition cars, and whether or not they can use these products on their Sanderson Headers. It is natural to assume that because racers use a product, it must be have some performance benefit on your street-driven vehicle. The theory behind thermal wrap and thermal header coatings is that maintaining combustion heat in the exhaust system improves scavenging of the cylinders. Additionally, reducing heat in the engine bay helps protect other components. Both are true! However, this is accomplished by using a thermal-coated header that we offer, without the destructive side effects from thermal heat wraps, header tape, or other products attached to your headers.

Here is a good article describing thermal wraps and potential problems: Exhaust Header Heat Wraps - DO NOT USE!

Many high budget race teams do not mind replacing exhaust system components frequently---and you damage your headers if you use thermal wraps. We can easily tell if you have used thermal tape on your Sanderson Headers, and this will void your warranty.

Sanderson Headers
517 Railroad Ave.
South San Francisco, CA 94080

Phone:    (650) 583-6617
Fax:        (650) 583-8475