In order to predict the thermal fatigue life of the internal combustion engine exhaust manifold effectively, it was necessary to accurately obtain the unsteady heat transfer process between hot streams and exhaust manifold all the time. This paper began with the establishment of unsteady coupled heat transfer model by using serial coupling method of CFD and FEA numerical simulations, then the bidirectional thermal coupling analysis between fluid and structure was realized, as a result, the difficulty that the transient thermal boundary conditions were applied to the solid boundary was solved. What's more, the specific coupling mode, the physical quantities delivery method on the coupling interface and the surface mesh match were studied. On this basis, the differences between strong coupling method and portioned treatment for solving steady thermal stress numerical analysis were compared, and a more convenient and rapid method for solving static thermal stress was found. Finally, aiming at the thermal stress analysis of steady and unsteady temperature fields, the thermal fatigue life of the exhaust manifold was estimated in application of Manson-Coffin formula, giving a general qualitative analysis.