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5 Top Reasons to Ceramic Coat your Exhaust Headers and Turbo Parts

Updated on June 11, 2014
Ceramic coated headers look great on a restored hot rod.
Ceramic coated headers look great on a restored hot rod. | Source

These are the 5 top reasons anyone who cares about the look, longevity, and performance of their vehicle should ceramic coat their exhaust and turbo components.

Don't overlook your exhaust, if you do you might find yourself with costly repairs that could have been easily avoided. One way to protect your exhaust and turbo parts is with a protective ceramic coating. We will be discussing the 5 top reasons of why you need to coat your parts. They include protection, thermal cycling, appearance, performance, and longevity.

A corroded or rusty muffler will eventually develop holes and be worthless.
A corroded or rusty muffler will eventually develop holes and be worthless.

The first reason to coat your exhaust components is for protection.

If you do not protect expensive headers, turbo parts, and custom exhaust piping they will corrode from the various elements they are exposed to. These include road chemicals. heat, and internal exhaust gases. These are various ways ceramic coatings help protect your parts.

  • A coating will protect your parts from road salts, oil and gas, and other corrosive chemicals. These chemicals can cause rust in a very short period of time which will eventually put holes in your exhaust parts. Some coatings can protect against damage from road debris like rocks, sand/dirt, and other items left scattered on the road (like shredded tires).
  • A properly matched coating will protect parts from the heat your engine develops which over time, if not properly removed through and efficient exhaust system, will degrade the metal. Even the most heat stable metals like titanium can degrade with high amounts of heat.
  • And finally exhaust gases that flow through your system are extremely corrosive and can eat away at your exhaust system from the inside out. A good coating can be applied to the inside of pipes to help make sure the exhaust gases and moisture either exit quickly or are burned off.

So in order to protect your exhaust parts look to a ceramic coating which has superior abrasion, heat, and chemical protection properties. More so than most any other exhaust type coating.


Ceramic Coating vs Monitor

Ceramic Coating Durability Video

The polished aluminum coating which protects up to 1300 degrees is the perfect coating for abrasion resistance.

This video demonstrates how solid the substrate of this coating is. The coating itself is laid down over a pre-treated and blasted metal service. Then it is heated on in an oven. Once it is cured the coated piece is then put into a rolling vibratory which polishes the coating to a nice luster.

The coating includes nickel and aluminum. When polished the previously rough coating orients upward to provide it rough texture. When the coating is polished it lays down and provides a smooth finish that has great impact resistance.

Turbo diesel parts go through a tremendous amount of thermal cycling.
Turbo diesel parts go through a tremendous amount of thermal cycling.

Second reason to coat exhaust parts is to help with thermal cycling.

When parts get red hot (like turbo housings) and then cool down they go through a thermal cycle which over time can degrade the metal. Ceramic coatings help reduce the thermal cycle and reduce surface temperatures. It does this in a variety of ways.

  • On turbo components the thermal cycle process can go from glowing red to cool as a cucumber. Over time this can weaken the cast housing. A high heat ceramic coating can provide protection, keeping the heat internal to the system.
  • By retaining heat in the housing you can get faster hole shots due to the turbos ability to spool faster.
  • On headers and exhaust piping the bends and curves where heat can concentrate at can thermally degrade the metal over time. These hot spots can also develop pin holes as exhaust gases erode the inner substrate.

So a good high heat coating over 1600 degrees F can protect your exhaust and turbo components from the problems associated with thermal cycling.


Turbo housings should be sprayed in black ceramic coating to help reduce thermal cycling.
Turbo housings should be sprayed in black ceramic coating to help reduce thermal cycling.
Ceramic coatings in a variety of colors can make your vehicle stand out.
Ceramic coatings in a variety of colors can make your vehicle stand out.

Appearance Coatings Make your Exhaust Parts Stand Out.

Many times you are restoring a vehicle and need to have your parts look like chrome but not have the problem of bluing, flaking, and discoloring. Other times you want to do a complete black out of your motorcycle. Or you just want a unique look. There are several ways appearance coatings can help protect and make your vehicle stand out.

  • A polished aluminum coating will look as near as chrome as possible. It will help with giving the overall appearance of a polished piece with the benefits of the coatings protection.
  • A ceramic coating can black out header pipes on a motorcycle and also be used to coat other parts which help in giving the motorcycle a uniform look.
  • Finally other colors can add enhancements to any metal part on your vehicle. From several different colors you can make a custom look that others will be envious of.

While certainly appearance is a secondary use of ceramic coatings over function it provides a way to get a cool and different look along with the benefits of durability that other coatings cannot give you.

Even a polished look on a vehicle protected with a ceramic clear coating will last a long time.
Even a polished look on a vehicle protected with a ceramic clear coating will last a long time.

Do you think ceramic coatings work?

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Industrial coatings can help reduce damage due to corrosive elements and outside weather.
Industrial coatings can help reduce damage due to corrosive elements and outside weather.

Other Ceramic Coating Uses

Did you know that there are a lot of other uses for ceramic coatings. We give a few examples below.

  • Suspension parts take a beating and some companies use an abrasive resistant ceramic coating to protect suspension parts like coil springs, control arms, and end links.
  • Firearms have a two fold purpose for using ceramic coatings. One is protection from elements like water and sand, and the other is performance and looks.
  • There are many industrial uses for ceramic coatings including oil and gas fittings, generator sets, and aviation/space vehicle.

So the uses of ceramic coatings are far reaching and can be used in a lot of different solutions to metal substrate problems.

For a performance vehicle ceramic coatings can help increase horsepower.
For a performance vehicle ceramic coatings can help increase horsepower.

Ceramic Coatings can Increase Performance

Ceramic coatings can help improve the performance of your headers, turbo parts, and exhaust pipes. Even if you are already using a high grade stainless steel or titanium set. Below are some examples of how ceramic coatings can help increase your vehicles overall performance.

  • Ceramic coatings help increase the speed and maintain the quality of exhaust gas flow. It also helps with thermal tumbling which happens when hot spots develop in the metal due to thermal cycling. By coating your headers you can make sure that you have a smooth laminar flow of exhaust which can lead to an increase in horsepower.
  • Eliminate back pressure by eliminating the need for the exhaust gas to turn back onto itself. This allows for the effective release of your exhaust in a performance improving manner.
  • Finally you get rid of heat soak, which can in turn affect other parts of the engine. By keeping the heat in the pipes you lessen the risk of excess heat damaging other engine parts like plastic parts, wiring harnesses, and spark plug wires.

A good quality ceramic coating job has effectively demonstrated that it can increase the horsepower in your vehicle and improve other engine and exhaust system functions.


Polished Aluminum

  • Good to 1300 degrees.

Semi Gloss Black - Bright Silver

  • Good to 1600 degrees.

Titanium or Gun Metal Gray

  • Good to 2000 degrees.

Medium heat coatings and engine coatings help protect against high heat.
Medium heat coatings and engine coatings help protect against high heat.

So what are the main types of ceramic coatings I should use?

A low heat coating starts protecting at 1300 degrees and is perfect for most restoration vehicles and small engines. Normally this comes in a polished aluminum color or brighter ceramic colors.

A medium heat coating starts protecting at 1600 degrees and is perfect for turbos, highly aspirated engines and motorcycles.

A high heat coating starts protecting at 2000 degrees and are perfect of race vehicles, large turbo housings, diesel trucks, and import racers.

An engine coating helps protect pistons, bearings, and other engine components.


A good coating will last a long time and protect your valuable exhaust parts.
A good coating will last a long time and protect your valuable exhaust parts.

Besides Protection Ceramic Coatings Make Parts Last Longer

All of these things aside the main reason people use ceramic coatings it to protect their investment. Normally new headers, exhaust parts, and turbo kits are not cheap. And once you install them they take a lot to get them out if they are damaged or in need of repair. So people want to make sure they do it right the first time.

  • When restoring a hot road you want to have your pipe look like chrome but be protected from the road. Especially if you have an open wheel roadster and the pipe are exposed. Also roadster headers are expensive and most of them are custom made. So keeping them lasting a long time is critical.
  • In older muscle cars it takes a lot to install new headers. Sometimes it is a job you only want to do once. So a lot of users ceramic coat their headers to make sure they don't get damaged from corrosion and they have to waste time and money putting in a new set.
  • Finally if you are a race car driver parts are expensive, so if you can get them to last even a little bit longer the protection of the ceramic coating can pay for the cost of it in no time.

So to make sure you protect your investment think of this, a 50k dollar car shouldn't be rendered useless because you could have prevented damage with a $300 coating job.

Ceramic Black Coating versus Butane Torch

Are Ceramic Coatings Worth It?

Well in the end the question is clearly stated in our poll above. Are ceramic coatings worth it? An average coating job will cost between $200 and $300 for a set of headers. In the end this is well worth the cost. You will see performance gains, reduce costly damage, and get a look that will last a long time.

Ceramic coatings are worth the cost and will provide you with years of protection.
Ceramic coatings are worth the cost and will provide you with years of protection.

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