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JBA Headers Installation

This article is reproduced with permission of JBA Racing. This tech article was originally posted at It is primarily intended for Ford trucks but most likely also applies to other Ford models.

Disclaimer: Please note that these articles are posted strictly for informational and educational purposes only. We are not responsible for any modifications you may make to your vehicle, nor the results you may have. Performing some of the procedures shown on this site may void your warranty. If in doubt, check with Ford or your local dealer for assistance.


1) The install takes 7-9 hours for the headers depending on your tool supply.

2) I have always found that headers require many hours of "detailing" as in removal of sharp edges, welding splatter and port matching. These were no exception... I recall 6-8 hours.

3) You can save yourself some effort by NOT REMOVING ALL of the studs and just put nuts on. I used stainless M8 hex nuts (13 mm hex) but I double nutted each stud with the second nut as a jam nut. I also used stainless "split" lock washers on all fastening points. You will have to decide which studs to leave in but as I recall, it was around 1/2 of them. I also trashed the carbon steel bolts supplied in favor of stainless hardware.

4) Tightening the EGR tube at the header is the hardest to do... no room to swing an open end wrench. I suggest a sacrificial 12 point box end wrench with a section removed ala a tubing wrench. Channel locks will work but may damage the nut.


JBA Headers has recently revolutionized the header and exhaust industry with its new 50-state smog-legal Cat4Ward tubular exhaust shorty headers, designed for GM, Dodge, and Ford sport trucks.

What makes a JBA shorty header different from other headers is several things. Each JBA Header features the patented Firecone, which is a device, designed to create the same effects as a longer primary tube header and collector. But because the header is a shorty tube, professionals and backyard mechanics won't experience the same fitment problems often associated with long-tube headers.

By utilizing a Cat4Ward design in the shorty header, installation becomes much easier. Cat4Ward-inspired shorty headers include a new Y-pipe to connect the vehicle's existing exhaust system. Since modifying the stock Y pipe or catalytic converter location with other non-shorty style headers fails to meet emissions requirements, the headers can't be specifically designed for a particular application. The JBA Cat4Ward design maximizes performance and meets emissions standards. JBA Cat4Ward Headers aren't universal-fit headers. Unlike a JBA header, a universal header isn't designed for specific applications.

According to the company, installation should be a simple bolt-in matter without a problem of fitment around power steering gear boxes, air conditioning lines, emission equipment, or spark plugs. All Cat4Ward designs retain full emissions-sensor acceptability, and they are constructed from mandrel-bent 14-gauge mild steel or 409 stainless steel tubing.

No one can dispute that the biggest performance gains are achieved by opening up the stock exhaust system. Combined with a Cat4Ward system, a power pulley set, a free flowing air filter, and a computer chip just add to the potential power output.

To prove our point, we installed a set of JBA Cat4Ward-designed shorty headers on a 1997 Ford 5.4L V-8 modular engine. Headers are a great way to achieve lots of additional power, and whether it's for freeway passing, towing, or hitting the drag strip, you won't be disappointed.

Dyno Test Results

The addition of a set of JBA Cat4Ward shorty headers netted us a 4-mph gain on a very steep seven-percent-grade hill by keeping the automatic transmission in third gear and not letting it hit overdrive. Testing was conducted from a railing 40-mph start up to the peak of the hill. in stock trim we maxed out at 66 mph. After the installation of headers, we maxed out at an even 70 mph.

Picture 1These JBA Cat4Ward headers are constructed of 14-gauge mild steel or 409 stainless steel with thick %-inch laser-cut flanges and include the Firecone technology. All JBA headers will work in conjunction with stock Y-pipe aftermarket after-cat systems. Each JBA kit is backed by a lifetime warranty, is 50-state emissions-legal, will work within all OBD-11 emissions standards, and comes either finished in a duplex nickel plating with chrome or coated by Air Born Coatings to help reduce Under hood engine temperatures. Also included in the kit is all the necessary mounting hardware, and wire-laden heavy-duty header gaskets.

Picture 2Replacing the stock exhaust manifolds with a set of JBA Shorty Headers can result in a substantial increase in overall power and torque. The stock cost-iron exhaust manifolds are generally highly restrictive because there are no primary individual tubes, , just four very short tubes which dump into one larger tube. These tight tube limitations result in an unproductive exhaust system, reducing torque and power. On the other hand, the JBA Cat4Ward-designed shorty headers offer a much improved way of excavating the scavenged gases. The primary header tubes are much larger than stock. They have none of the sharp bends that might produce less than harmonious results. Power is enhanced because the spent gases are removed from the engine at a much faster, mom efficient rate.

1. Installation of a set of JBA Headers in a 1997-newer Ford F- 150 equipped with a 4.6L or 5.4L V-8 requires removal of the inner fenderwell to gain access to the factory exhaust manifold. Once the truck's properly supported in the air, remove the wheels and loosen all of the baits holding in the plastic inner wheelwell.

Picture 32. Prior to loosening the stock exhaust manifold bolts, you may want to saturate them with WD-40 or some other thread-penetrating oil to help facilitate their removal. From beneath the vehicle, through the wheelwell, loosen all of the nuts on the exhaust manifold studs. Then remove the two bolts holding the stock collector to the downpipe. On the driver's side, you will have to remove the EGR tube from the factory exhaust manifold prior to removing it from the vehicle.

Picture 43. Once all of the nuts have been removed from the studs, carefully remove manifold It may be necessary to work the factory exhaust manifold around the engine compartment before you can fully remove it. The work space is very tight, so the manifold won't fall free. It requires some diligence to remove it from the vehicle completely. Once it has been disengaged, you need to remove all of the stock exhaust manifold studs in the aluminum heads because the new JBA headers come equipped with lock washers and bolts. The now headers won't work with the stock exhaust manifold studs.

Picture 54. Before installing the new JBA headers, disconnect the EGR fitting from the stock exhaust manifold and reinstall it into the new shorty header. Also, prior to installing the headers, make sure the head surfaces have been cleaned with a surface scraper to remove any carbon deposits built up around the exhaust parts. Carbon deposits might adversely affect the sealing of the new JBA Headers and header gasket.

Picture 65. Lift the new JBA Header into the stock wheel well. It may be necessary to twist it to get the header in the right position. Make sure there's no obstruction that might keep the header flange from mating with the exhaust port surface.

Picture 76. Before you install the mounting hardware, JBA recommends swiping each bolt with a small dose of antiseize engine assembly compound. Aluminum threaded bolt holes such as those in the Ford Triton Engines aluminum cylinder heads should be protected from the galling which can occur when a steel bolt is threaded in.

Picture 87. Install all the new antiseize-coated bolts in place, finger tighten, then use the proper-size open-end box wrench to snug up each bolt. Once sufficiently tight, apply the proper torque to each bolt. In this case 20-25 lb-ft of torque is necessary.

Picture 98. Once both sides have been completed, crawl under the vehicle and apply a small bead of Hi-Temp RTV silicone sealant to the female side of the downpipe. After it has set for a short time, reconnect the downpipe to the JBA Firecone collector. Tighten it down to 30-35 lb-ft of torque.

9. Just before doing the initial engine fire up, you must tighten the EGR tube that you loosened to allow flexibility when installing the JBA Headers. The best way to do this is from the top side of the vehicle. Once all of the underside connections have been correctly made, reinstall the plastic wheel wells. Make sure when installing the wheel wells that no electrical, brake, or other lines become trapped between the fender and the wheel well. Once the vehicle is on the ground, fire up the engine and allow it to warm up for roughly 10-20 minutes. After the heat-expansion cycle, re torque the bolts to ensure proper tightness.