An exhaust manifold is a component that is used to vent exhaust gases, away from the vehicle's engine, after combustion occurs. The manifold extends from the cylinders to the exhaust pipe, collecting and moving exhaust away from the engine. Exhaust can be harmful for the engine if it is inhaled, making it very important to have a fully functional exhaust manifold that doesn’t leak or has any problems.
As the pistons in the engine reach the exhaust stroke, they push the exhaust fumes up into the exhaust manifold which then directs them through the catalytic converter and out through the rest of the exhaust system. The manifold consists of a series of pipes which connect to the cylinders and then consolidate in a central large pipe which vents to the exhaust pipe. To prevent a metal on metal connection, gaskets are used in between the two parts before they are bolted together which will create a much better seal that is less likely to leak.
One of the most common problems which can arise with an exhaust manifold is damage or leakage of one of the gaskets or seals. In this case, the manifold needs to be unbolted so that the gasket can be removed and replaced. It is important to always use a new gasket when loosening the manifolds bolts because an old gasket may not seal properly unless it is positioned in the exact same spot. Another issue which can commonly arise is rust, especially in salty environments. If rust eats through the pipes of the manifold, they can start to leak exhaust fumes into the engine compartment. In a car, these fumes can enter the passenger compartment, making people sick. When an exhaust manifold does go bad, it will most likely need to get to a mechanic to get repaired or replaced. The reason for this is that most modern vehicles have the manifold so tucked away that removing it requires many other things to be removed as well which makes the job much more complicating and expensive.
Getting the pipe lengths of the manifold right is also very important because a wrong size pipe can cause an issue known as back pressure, which forces the engine to work harder to push the exhaust fumes out. Having back pressure can not only damage the engine, it will also rob valuable horsepower and torque since the engine is not working efficiently. All of this can be resolved with an attachment called a header, which uses pipes of the same length to reduce back pressure. Headers are fitted on high performance cars and race cars to increase the efficiency of the exhaust. Reducing the amount of work the engine needs to do contribute to higher performance operation, and can make a critical difference with some vehicles.
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