Here is my excessively long and overly detailed review on the Rustys OffRoad Flow Daddy Headers for JK Wranglers. If you don't have the time skip to the last paragraph.
Recently, I discovered that my drivers side factory manifold had significant cracking. You'll know when your manifold cracks because your JK will start sounding more and more like a motor boat. Not wanting to replace them with another cast manifold that was prone to breakage, I was excited to find the Flow Daddy Headers for a very reasonable price. I called them up and asked about their warranty. The helpful lady told me they carried a lifetime warranty as long as I didn't wrap them. Apparently someone had wrapped their header and they cracked. I thought nothing of it, why would I want to wrap my header? I'm not a drag racer, so I got them on order. They were promptly shipped and arrived in good condition. They looked to be of very good quality out of the box.
No instructions were provided with the product or that I could find on the website. I figured the install would be relatively easy. The factory manifold and heat shield on the drivers side were very easy to remove, I got them off in about 10 minutes. Getting the Flow Daddy header in is a completely different story. It was almost impossible to even get the header into position. The heat shield is a mostly flat piece that sticks up quite high and makes squeezing it in between the motor/firewall/steering column almost impossible. After much coercing I finally got it in position with the new provided gasket. I spent another hour and a half trying to get the provided bolts into the new piece. It's virtually impossible to work with them. I got all the bolts in place except for one, and found out that bolt head does not fit with the header in place so I had to remove all the bolts again to get that bolt in place and then spend another hour trying to retighten them all.
I highly recommending tightening all of the bolts evenly by rotating around the flange. I think you will highly increase the chances of stripping the holes in your motor if you tighten the first bolt all the way and then proceed to do the same with the second bolt and so on. In hind sight I wish I would have cut off the heat shield entirely before I started the installation. The cheesy design added HOURS to the installation time and at some point during the installation I cut loose one of the welds so I could move the heat shield just enough to either access a bolt or get it in place, I don't quite recall which.
With the hard part behind me (so I thought) I moved to the spark plug wires. Again, because of the heat shield design the plug boots are almost impossible to access and it proved extremely difficult to access them. I routed the OEM wires as far from the header as possible. One of the wires ( #4 or #6) was crossing the edge of the heat shield which concerned me quite a bit. I did my best to bend a relief in the heat shield where it crossed so it wouldn't rub a hole through the wire.
I eventually got everything in place and left the passenger side installation for later as it was way past midnight at this point. A week later, in Moab, I experienced a slight hesitation out on the trail. It was definitely missing spark. I discovered that one of the plug wires must not have seated fully and I couldn't get to it with the dang heat shield in the way so I cut the rest of the heat shield off. I got the wires seated correctly and went on my way with out a hitch. While under the hood I also noticed one of the flange bolts had come loose and fallen out. The provided star washers are not adequate, I recommend getting spring lock washers and replacing them.
Approximately a month and a half later I was cruising up into the mountains when the almighty JK motor started loosing power, CEL started flashing, backfire, etc.. I immediately flipped around and headed back to the nearest remote town as I didn't have any cell service and I did not want to get stranded up there. My front brakes started smoking like crazy the first time I slowed down for a corner. I have never had a problem like this before, the JK brakes generally aren't that great, but not this bad. I shut down the motor and let everything cool down for a while. Luckily it was all downhill from there and I made it back to the small town. When I got back into town I noticed I was also getting a fast blinker. I check my lights and found my rear brake light was burnt out.
I started diagnosing the problem, I eventually pulled the CEL codes and got a misfire Cylinder 4. After a bunch more digging and investigation I found that my spark plug wire was not looking too good and later that night, after dark, I was able to confirm that the spark was jumping from my wire to my headers! I was in a mess at that point as the town I was in didn't have any sort of auto service to speak of. The closest set of new wires was at a Napa warehouse about 70 miles away. Out came the electrical tape. I put about 50 wraps around it to insulate it and the next morning we headed down the canyon into a more populated area. The electrical tape held up for about 20 miles before it melted through and started arcing again. Luckily, I pulled over across the street from a NAPA and took my hammered wire into the store to see if there is anything that could be done. (The set of JK wires were still 50 miles away at this point). The clerk was able to find another wire that was fairly similar and I put it in and everything was back to normal! Yes, let's get home from this vacation.
On the way home I had the replacement set of wires ordered to my local NAPA. I picked up the replacement set the next day after work and replaced the #4 and #6 wires. As I was removing the wire I had picked up the previous day the jacket was very brittle and brown. At this point I was suspicious that the heat from the headers was burning up the wires so I picked up a set of very expensive woven heat shield sleeves to protect the new wires. Let me stop for a moment to say that the Flow Daddy original heat shield in no way protects the boots or most of the spark plug wires. It sits up very high and is not contoured to the headers like the OEM manifold shield is. The heat shield sleeves went on very nicely with the new wires and I thought I finally had a bulletproof setup.
The next morning, 5 miles into my commute, I started getting a CEL again and loosing power. I pulled off to investigate and couldn't see anything too obvious so I limped the rest of the way to work. I thought maybe the plug in the #4 cylinder had been fouled up with not getting spark so I replaced the plug. The old plug had some light build up and a little bit of arcing, but nothing too bad. I fired it up and still had the same problems. The CEL code was still misfire #4 cylinder. By this point I had called Rustys OffRoad looking for some help on the situation. The customer service was helpful and friendly, but had to call me back later after some investigation into the heat problem.
I called Rustys later that day to see if they had suggestions and was told they were still looking into it. By the time Rusty's had called me back I had found the culprit again, another melted spark plug wire. The melted portion was inside the protective boot! Apparently, the replacement wire set is coated 40X's in silicone which helps them burn up 40X's faster. Apparently, do not use this type of wire where heat is an issue.
By now, I had decided to go back to the OEM manifold setup. I order a new manifold and OEM wires. I figured if I could get 50,000 miles out of manifold it would be better than this non-sense.
Back on the phone with Rusty's they suggested I try a set of high temp spark plug wires (the kind that are over a $100 for a set). I had already read on the forums where other people had tried these wire sets unsuccessfully and my research was starting to unfold a lot of people experiencing melting wire problems with shorty style headers. The primary problem is that all three of collectors are so tight around the #4 plug. Rustys customer service confirmed that other similar designs are experiencing problems also. In hindsight I'm guessing that they took a competitors header, ripped off the design and had it copied with out doing thorough testing of their own.
I'm fairly certain at this point that my blown brake light was from the spark plug wire arcing to the headers and I suspect it may have been wreaking havoc on the ABS which caused the sudden near brake failure. I'm crossing my fingers that there hasn't been catalytic converter damage or any other computer system damage. That is yet to be seen as it will be a day or two before I have the OEM style manifold, heat shield and plug wires.
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Last edited by keithro; 06-02-2011 at 04:58 PM.