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Aftermarket Exhaust Manifold - Thoughts & Recommendations

1496 Views 35 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  ktemkin
Hi all. Due to a recent loss of the catalytic converter, I got under there and found that I needed the entire exhaust system. The Walker system which replaced the original converter and resonator/muffler assembly was a mess and heavily rusted. So, I have the entire system out and ready to be replaced with a stainless steel setup. However, the exhaust manifold stay bracket bolts and the lower exhaust manifold shield bolt are not that healthy. I tried to remove them with my induction heater that I used on the rest of the bolts and it was a no go. They are locked in there. So, before I go any further, I would like any thoughts and comments on an aftermarket exhaust manifold I found on ebay. I am thinking about this if I cause any issues while removing these bolts. It looks like I could drill out the exhaust stay bracket bolts and use bolts and nuts afterwards, but there is limited space to get to the exhaust heat shield lower bolt.

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Here is a link to the listing.

Does anyone have experience with aftermarket exhaust manifolds? Am I asking for trouble even considering this one? Thoughts/comments/advice/guidance/experience would be much appreciated. Thank you.
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Several months back I ran into the same issue with a bolt locking the bottom of the exhaust manifold to the stay bracket. In my case the head of the bolt had been rounded-off by some previous "repair," so I used a MIG to weld a new head onto the bolt and, once welding on, the bolt came right out. I believe the greatest factor in loosening the bolt was simply the intense thermal shock imparted by the welding--I would think your inductive heater would have done the same thing. After welding, I backed out the bolt with a 1/2"-drive impact gun--that may have also helped breaking the seize. Be sure to use a universal joint when approaching the bolt head as the subframe/suspension prevents you from getting a straight, solid purchase on the head of the bolt.

Here's the link to what I did.

Looking for recommendations on exhaust manifold repair...
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Luckily, with whatever previous repair that was done in that area, the butcher removed and left off the heat shield. Lucky me.

BTW, I see that Home Depot rents small MIG units. At the one near me, in the northern Chicago suburbs, it's 39$ for four hours. I also see that Home Depot sells a Ryobi flexible shaft attachment for an impact driver for $16 . . . you could also use it with an electric drill. If you could fashion a cutoff wheel attachment to that flexible shaft, you could cut off those messed up threads on the back side of the manifold. WIth that done, I would be pretty confident that the weld-on nut and impact gun method would work.
Because you can't get a straight shot on that right-hand bolt, it sounds like the rounded-off head issue is a common problem.

Agreed that those flexible shafts are not intended for high speeds, but since this is a single incident solution, and you have only one bolt the cut through, if you take your time and use a drill to drive the shaft (which means a slow speed), I don't think you'd have a problem. If a Dremel, or something similar, is available, that's even better.
The absolute cheapest welder HF has is about $170 and is just a stick welder, which is good enough for what you have to do here, but can't be used it for much sheet metal work (I suppose an unbelievable pro might, in a pinch, do sheet metal welding with a stick welder). Cheapest helmet at HF is $35. So you are going to be in the low $200 range total.

But be careful !!! Under the car, on your back, with six inches, maybe a foot of room to move around. And with a stick welder the rod is alway energized. You accidentally brush against something while moving around and you've just welded to that thing you brushed against. At least with MIG, nothing happens until you pull the trigger.

Also, before doing any welding on a car, DISCONNECT THE BATTERY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Here are some photos of that wire mesh "grommet."

As I said in one of my previous posts in this thread, my car was missing this heat shield when I bought it. When I replaced the catalytic converter and had to deal with the manifold stay bolt, I had to order a bunch of parts, so I ordered a heat shield. I have not yet put it on so I was able to take these pictures.

If you look carefully you can see that the two "washer" halves are press fit assembled like a grommet, sandwiching the wire mesh washers.

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As the heat shield on my Element was missing, so were those two upper bolts. The flanges on the manifold through which those bolts pass are threaded and are in good condition. Off the top of my head I don't remember the condition of the threads of that lower bolt, although I know the bolt is no longer there. Along with the heat shield, I purchased the three bolts from a Honda dealer.

Purchased my Element with 55,000 miles in January, 2021 and drove the car from Chicago to Anchorage in August of that year, pulling a trailer. It lived in Anchorage until September of 2022 and was then driven back to Chicago, again, pulling a trailer. The car now has 77,000 miles on it.

In that span of time I have not had any problems running without the heat shield.
Looking at your last picture, are you missing the heat shield that covers the shaft that drives the driver's side axle?
All of my "fleet" of four drivable cars are between 17 and 19 years old and, being in Chicago, all are quite rotted. I maintain them well mechanically, but they are all disappearing into iron oxide. As such I do not care about OEM stuff for them and I'll drive them until I can't anymore.

Because the Element is so unique and in relatively good shape, I've been trying to baby it, so it enjoys the only garage spot I have and I mostly purchase OEM parts for it. Buying OEM hardware is a bit ridiculous, but what the hell. I don't remember what the marking on the bolts were.
shdrazba, overlooked your question about the type of antiseize compound to use. Have used the copper stuff for years but when I ran out of that a few years ago switched to the nickel stuff. I have not detected that the nickel stuff is any better.

shdrazba, also, how long is the hose clamp you used? I took a better look at the bottom bolt area of my exhaust manifold and it appear a previous repair simply ripped the whole female threaded plate from the exhaust manifold, so I'm going to have to use your hose clamp repair method.

Finally, for anyone who can answer this, how does the heat shield install: from above (in the engine compartment) or below (from underneath the car)?

From above I've been trying to manipulate the shield for about a half-hour and I can't see how it would drop down over the manifold. There's a firewall heat shield, brackets and a bunch of piping that are preventing maneuvering the manifold shield into place. Am I missing something about dropping the heat shield in from above?

I'm reticent to approach from the bottom as that means removing my catalytic converter protection installation and the cat itself. Not that it is difficult, and if I have to, so be it, but it just makes the project more involved than I planned.
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Are you worried about accessing the exhaust manifold stay bracket bolts with an impact gun?
The left-hand exhaust manifold stay bracket bolt is a straight shot with a socket and extension, but the right-hand bolt is not. It almost looks like you can break the right-hand bolt free without a universal joint, but if you do, and if you use a strong impact gun, you will likely round off the bolt head.

When I had to remove my catalytic converter, that right-hand bolt was already rounded off by a previous repair, so I had to resort to welding a nut onto the remaining head of the bolt to get a new "head" on the bolt.

So, always make sure you have good "purchase" on the head of that bolt before using an impact gun.
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