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Buying advice for an exhaust manifold

A vehicle’s exhaust manifold has a tough job. Not only must it collect and contain the nasty gases left over from combustion, but it also directs them out of the engine bay, away from the passenger cabin to the rest of the exhaust system. Problems experienced by the exhaust manifold come from constant heat cycling from hot to cool during and after engine operation as well as from shock from impacts to the muffler underneath the vehicle.

As robustly built as they are, a failed exhaust manifold is serious; it allows dangerous temperatures in the engine bay and can pass noxious fumes into the cabin affecting passengers. Should you find yourself with a damaged manifold then here are a few tips for buying a replacement.

Information is king
Arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible, starting with the vehicle that the new manifold is being purchased for. Go through the engine bay and the owner’s manual to find out the year, make, model, and especially the engine type. With that data, you can then acquire the right part number for the manifold, or better yet determine if a manifold from another vehicle can work.

Shop around
Don’t immediately rush to purchase the first one you come across unless there are no other viable options. Check with the dealer first; this will give you a base price for comparison with other potential sources such as online or specialty salvage operators. This will help with the next step.

Decide on new, used, or remanufactured
It may not always be prudent to buy a new exhaust manifold for various reasons. However, should the price difference between all three be minimal then it’s best to go with a new OEM part. It will usually last as long as the original item and come with a similar warranty. Non-genuine and rebuilt exhaust manifolds should be a last-ditch effort.

If buying used
Should used be substantially cheaper, then inspecting the exhaust manifold is a given. Check for small cracks, rust, and any warping of the flanges which could stop it from seating properly on the motor. Make sure the seller is reputable and offers a warranty and a return policy that meet your needs in case it doesn’t work out for any reason.

When an exhaust manifold goes bad it becomes an immediate threat that needs rectification. Shopping for one requires knowing what to look for in regards to quality and price irrespective of the eventual source.