Mid-length headers vs. Long tubes: Is a long tube header better than a mid-length header?

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Mid-length headers work better from the low to mid RPM range, whereas long tube headers are better from the mid to high RPM range. Basically, you can distinguish the difference between these two heads from the exhaust port pipe lengths.

A long tube header comes with an extra-long port pipe that goes farther out. On the other hand, mid-length has neither a short port pipe like a shorty header nor a long port pipe like a long tube header.

Meanwhile, the lengthier pipe on the long header provides a much better horsepower gain compared to the mid-size header. Continue reading to know more differences between these two.

Mid-length headers vs. Long tubes

Is there any difference between mid-length and long tube headers?

Long tube headers have a long exhaust port pipe which makes them a less fuel-efficient option. However, mid-length headers gain less horsepower than the longer ones. So, which one is really better?

Let’s go through the comparison chart first and get rid of the confusion.


Mid-length header

Long tube header


For daily driver

High-rev vehicles

Fuel efficiency

More fuel-efficient

Less fuel-efficient

RPM scale

Low to mid

Mid to high

Horsepower gain

Less HP gain

More HP gain

Exhaust port pipe







Comparatively low

High roaring sound


Easy to install

Comparatively a tiresome task


Cheaper than short headers

Cheaper than mid-length headers


Legal in most states

Illegal in most states

Mid-length headers

Mid-length headers

Mid-length headers are neither a short header nor a long tube header, but something that is in the middle of these two. However, it’s a better choice for fuel efficiency and higher backpressure.

If you are searching to replace the old header with a new one for your daily driver, you better go for it.

  • Improved fuel efficiency.
  • Works better from low to mid RPM range.
  • A perfect option for a daily driver vehicle.
  • Medium-sized exhaust port pipe.
  • Higher backpressure.
  • Less horsepower gain than long tube ones.
  • Medium sound is better than the lower sound of shorty headers.
  • Comparatively easy to install than long tube ones.
  • Legal in most states.
  • Costs more than long tube headers.

Fuel efficiency

The fuel efficiency is directly related to the exhaust port pipe size of the header. As the port pipe is shorter than long tubes, it sucks less oxygen. Consequently, the need for extra fuel vanishes.

RPM range

As a result, you have a fuel-efficient header for your daily driver that allows driving from low to mid RPM range. As long as it's not a high-powered vehicle, a mid-length header can support it.


Even with this header inside, it's possible towing or haul something on the vehicle. However, the mid-size port pipe means there will be less air intake through. Also, it causes higher backpressure.

Horsepower gain

Consequently, there is a significant decrease in the horsepower gain if the previous one was a long tube. However, if you have upgraded the header from a shorty one, it's a matter of time to get an improved horsepower gain.


When it comes to sound, this header is louder than the shorter one but duller than the long tube one. Of course, you will miss the roaring sound from the long-tube headers.

Installation and cost

This header is comparatively a cheaper option than shorter ones, but still an expensive one. You need more space underneath the vehicle to install it correctly, which takes a bit more time.

Long tube headers

long tube headers

If you are missing the roaring and meaner sound of long tube headers, get one for your vehicle. However, is it legal in your state? Or are you going to use it on your daily driver?

The decision of whether to go for it or not depends largely on the above two questions.

  • It’s a less fuel-efficient option.
  • Performs well from mid to high RPM range.
  • Mostly suitable for high-rev and supercharged vehicles.
  • Lengthier exhaust port pipe.
  • Lower backpressure.
  • Significantly more horsepower gain.
  • Provides a louder sound.
  • The installation is a tiresome process here.
  • It isn't legal in most states.
  • A cost-efficient option.

Fuel efficiency

Although it's an affordable option to get, it isn't a fuel-efficient option. The only reason is the lengthier exhaust port pipe that sucks a huge amount of oxygen.

Type of vehicle

And without any doubt, this amount of air requires more fuel in the combustion manifold that from nowhere makes it a fuel-efficient option. Therefore, it's never recommended for those who are looking to use the vehicle as a daily driver.

Horsepower gain

As the consequence of more air getting through the long pipe, it causes lower backpressure. However, the backpressure is disproportional to the horsepower gain, which results in a marginally more HP in long tube headers.

RPM range

Meanwhile, more horsepower means the RPM scale should go up as well. That is why this particular header works well during a high RPM range.


Whether the vehicle is idle or on the go, you can always enjoy a roaring sound due to the lengthier header that sucks more and more air inside. The sound derives from the header is basically roaring and meaner.

Installation and cost

However, one thing that always keeps it behind short or mid-length ones is the installation. It requires a lot of space underneath the car. Meanwhile, it’s comparatively a cheaper option.

Moreover, you can only rightfully install the header when there’s enough ground clearance beneath the vehicle. All in all, it’s undoubtedly a tough task installing this particular header.

Are mid-length headers any good?

Yes, mid-length headers are good as long you are choosing them for the right application or vehicle. For any moderate use, this type of header will go on to serve you well.


  • Better fuel efficiency
  • Easy to install
  • Legal in most states
  • Serves well as a daily driver
  • Low to mid RPM scale.


  • Less horsepower gain
  • Higher back pressure
  • Low to medium sound
  • Costlier than long tube headers.

Why are long tube headers better?

As a long tube ensures a better horsepower gain and provides a roaring sound, it's undoubtedly a better choice for high revolution vehicles. But as a daily driver, you should avoid it.


  • Significantly much horsepower gain
  • Lower backpressure
  • Roaring and meaner sound quality
  • Comparatively cheaper than short and mid-length headers
  • A better choice for high-rev cars.


  • Less fuel-efficient
  • Needs more time and labor for the installation
  • Illegal in most states
  • High RPM scale.

Are long tube headers legal?

Nope, long tube headers aren’t legal in most states of the USA. The main reason is the roaring, extra-high sound of the exhaust port pipe. As the pipe sucks more air, it creates more sound.

Meanwhile, both short and mid-length headers are legal. Therefore, users go for either of these headers for moderate usage.

However, you should still check out the laws of your state to make sure whether it’s legal there or not.

What’s better: Mid-length or long tube header?

Both these headers are better but in different circumstances. The choice doesn't depend on the user or what he needs. It actually depends on the riding condition and type of vehicle.

You may have a louder sound from the long tube header, which is a nice thing on a racing track. But is it okay on the highways, where lots of cars are moving without making any noise? Hopefully, the answer is no.

That was only one example to make you understand that the situation makes both of these headers better. So, take the decision wisely. If you need chevy 350 headers, see our another article about this.

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