The Benefits of Exhaust Wrap - Share A Word
Heat can prove both beneficial and detrimental when it comes to engines. Too much heat over a longer period can cause severe wear to all engine components, while the immediate effect is choking your engine of cool air it needs for combustion. Similarly, a cold engine will be hard to get up and running and you’ll be burning more oil than fuel. In both cases, performance is what you lose. All engines have an optimal working temperature range, meaning anything cooler or hotter will show when you put the pedal down.
Different engine parts generate different amounts of heat. Locating the heat source, and determining if and how it generates heat to other components is the first thing you need to do. In a typical engine, the block and exhaust would be hottest, due to the combustion of air and fuel and their expulsion through the exhaust. Replacing your stock manifold with individual headers is one solution to removing heat buildup. This will reduce potential back pressure, or heat and gases making their way back into the cylinders. The next logical step is to insulate the headers and exhaust collector with exhaust wrap. This should contain heat in the exhaust system, without radiating to other parts.
Benefits of Using Exhaust Wrap
Exhaust wrap kits play an important part in how heat is effectively managed throughout your vehicle. By allowing pipes and the gases flowing through them to remain at constantly high temperatures, your car gets an increase in performance. Hot exhaust gases travel faster, and exit the car faster, allowing for new air to be sucked in and then burnt along with fuel. Put in simple terms, your car goes faster.
Exhaust wrap is particularly useful in cars with turbochargers. Since turbos rely on hot exhaust gases to work, the consistent temperatures maintained by the wrap reduce turbo lag, meaning the turbo kicks in earlier.
By limiting heat to the exhaust header and collector, exhaust wrap protects the adjacent engine and body parts from the damaging effect of heat radiated from the exhaust. If you’re building a car or engine from scratch and installing aftermarket headers, you can rest assured that the hood, bay panels, and wiring won’t bear the brunt of excessive heat.
Lastly, there’s the appearance. If properly applied, exhaust wrap just looks good. It will hide all the discolouring in the headers, and fit nicely within the overall picture of a well-maintained engine.
What to Look for When Buying
When buying exhaust wrap kits, a basic thing to go by is the amount of heat they can withstand. Brands state either continuous or intermittent heat loading (or both), meaning the highest temperature at which the exhaust wrap performs optimally, and the highest possible temperature before it burns up. Of course, higher numbers are better here.
Temperatures depend on the materials. Fibreglass exhaust wrap is good up to 500°C, and the cheapest type. Next is exhaust wrap from ‘crushed volcanic lava’ or basalt rock fibres, able to withstand temperatures of 600°C. And lastly, there is titanium exhaust wrap, good for up to 1200°C, and the best type for turbocharged engines. All numbers are continuous ratings, which is what you should go by. Some of the materials may also be coated, slightly raising their heat resistance.
Another thing to consider is the length. This depends on the number and the diameter of the header tubes that you’ll be wrapping. Bigger tubes need more wrap. A spool of 15m should be enough to comfortably wrap 4 header tubes, with material remaining for other uses. Look for brands that sell complete exhaust wrap kits that come with durable cable ties that hold the wrap in place.
Lastly, there are different colours if you’re after a particular look. Exhaust wrap colours are mainly based on the material or applied coatings. Fibreglass is generally white, while basalt rock black and titanium wrap can pass for gold.
Exhaust wrap is used in a range of vehicles and engine types. You’ll often see wrapped exhaust headers on motorcycles, which add a little style, especially if titanium wrap is used. But it also protects riders from burns to the legs. Exhaust tubing wrap in diesels improves the function of DPF filters and catalytic converters by allowing for quicker and more efficient removal of toxic particles. And in restoring classic cars, or modifying performance cars, exhaust wrap helps in performance gains in stock engines, but also protects surrounding parts that may already be worn.
Exhaust wrap is mostly easy to apply. You’ll need a few basic tools – a pair of scissors to cut the wrap, a screwdriver to tighten the cable ties, and a pair of metal clippers to trim any excess cable. Fibreglass wrap needs to be sprayed with water to loosen up before use.
First, place a piece of wrap around one section of the tubing. Next, count how many times that same piece fits along the length of the exhaust tube, with overlays of roughly 5mm to avoid gaps. The wrap should be tightened along the tube, with the textured side sown surface facing downwards. Cut the last piece and fold it inwards at an angle. The wrap is secured with cables ties that are tightened to fit. Any remaining cable is cut. Once you have finished wrapping one tube, finish doing the rest. Larger intersecting tubes and difficult sections where more exhaust tubes meet are wrapped together. And don’t forget basic protection like a pair of gloves and goggles. A little work, but worth the effort.