Banks Torque Tube Header

Article by Ed Holnagel

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Banks Torque Tube Header

It has long been a problem for Jeep exhaust headers, they crack.  For our '98 TJ Wrangler our factory header cracked within the factory warranty period and was replaced.  Shortly after the warranty ran out our 2nd header cracked.  We decided at this time to pay the extra money and go to a header we thought would end our problems for good.  So in 2003 we did our research and based on their good name and reputation we purchased a Banks Torque Tube Header.

The Banks header is constructed from stainless steel and upon initial examination it was put together very well.  In 2003 when we bought our original header they advertised a "Lifetime Warranty" which also sold us on the Banks header, after all if they are offering a lifetime warranty then they must be really sure it wasn't going to fail.

Well that is the end of the good.  After almost 4 years of use our Banks header cracked just like the factory original had.  We called Banks and sure enough they sent us a new header for just the cost of shipping at the time.  Our 2nd Banks header lasted only about 2 years and once again we called Banks.  This time the header cost us around $48 plus shipping and tax.  Our 2nd Banks header lasted about 2 years again and it was an extra year until I decided to pull it.  This time around our replacement cost us around $95 plus shipping and tax.  We noticed that our 3rd header was designed differently and once again we hoped this would be the end of changing headers out.  However, again, after about 2 years this header also started leaking.  We put up with it for another year and a half and put off changing it as we weren't using the Jeep much.  We finally pulled the header and found a very large crack.  Once again we called Banks.  We were informed that the header design had changed again and that our cost would be around $280 including the tax and shipping. We asked what happened to our "Lifetime Warranty" and were informed that the headers were covered at 100% replacement for the first 5 years from original purchase, not from the last header we received.  After 5 years we would pay 10% of the retail price per year up to 5 years in which case every header after that would cost 50% of the retail or around $240 plus shipping and tax.  WHAT A CROCK OF CRAP!  One poster on a forum group who sells banks products said that he gets 1 in 2 or 50% of Banks headers back in his shop due to failure.

If you do a Google search for "Cracked Banks Header" you will find numerous discussions on forum groups going back many years on Banks header failures.  So it would appear that Banks has probably known for many years that the headers they send out the door are going to fail but as long as they only have to give you one replacement before the 5 year "Lifetime warranty" runs out they will once again be making money on you with replacements.  I find their failure to stand behind their product to be very disturbing if not entirely maddening.

While this newest design of the header may mean as they put it on their web site "cracking... a thing of the past" we are no longer willing to continue to pay Banks to be the guinea pigs for their research and development.  We can replace the headers from 2 to 4 times with generic aftermarket headers for the price of one of their discounted headers.

What do we recommend.  Well, that's a tough one as we have only just ordered a replacement Omix-Ada header and have not yet installed it.  One of our friends has been running this header for 4 years now with no problems.  The Omix-Ada header is in fact a generic Dorman header.  Many of the headers you see branded on web sites for Jeeps are in fact manufactured by Dorman.  The Dorman header is easily identified by the expansion bellows in the tubes that allow for heat expansion and contraction and hopefully easing the cracking problem.  These headers can be found online at almost all major Jeep parts suppliers as well as on Ebay and even your local auto parts stores ranging from around $90 to $200.

Dorman Header

 

It would appear that other brands of headers that are made like the Banks also seem to suffer similar failure rates and how to fix it seems to escape them all.  We have heard good things about Clifford headers from several of our readers and perhaps if we feel like spending a large sum for a header again we may give them a go. For now we will see how the Dorman header will hold up.  However we cannot in good conscious recommend that anyone buy a Banks header for their Jeep.