Top 4 Questions to Ask About Air Intakes

BY MICHAEL D.

You’re the kind of driver who’s never satisfied with stock or near-to-stock power or performance. If you’re looking for a bit more, then an aftermarket air intake is the order of the day. But before tossing your stock intake and investing in any of the great replacements available here at AutoAnything, you may have some questions that need answering. Read on to find the answers to the top four questions asked by DIYers who once stood in your shoes.

1. How much power will it add to my engine?

Generally speaking, you can expect anywhere from an extra 5-10 horsepower from your performance intake, but some intakes offer even more. This, of course, will vary from vehicle to vehicle. Engine size and other upgrades working in tandem with the intake dictates this, so your power gains could be anywhere within that range.

2. Can I expect an improvement in fuel economy?

The installation of a performance air intake leads to more efficient fuel-burning and a less restrictive intake tube. As a result, you can expect to see an improvement of 1-2 mpg.

You may also witness — or, more specifically, feel — a difference in the way you drive. We’ve been told by many a satisfied customer that they’ve adopted a harder driving style because of the aforementioned power gains. Be aware, though, that this could negate any improvements you see in the way of gas mileage.

3. Will I pass my next smog inspection?

On our site, you’ll find certain air intakes that have received either a CARB certification or an exemption. Other intakes on our site are not CARB-compliant, but meet Federal emissions standards. The status of the converter will be denoted by an official seal on the unit. You’ll find a certification number, which is both clearly visible and legible. Any inspector who wants to can enter this number into the computer to verify the unit’s smog-compliance.

Due to the nature of your performance air intake and the strenuous testing it undergoes, it’s highly unlikely that the piece will cause any damage to your vehicle that voids the warranty.

4. Does the extra horsepower add to the power increases from other upgrades?

The answer to this question takes a bit more unpacking than any of the previous ones. So, while the added horsepower and torque gains from various upgrades can stack together, it’s not a matter of simple arithmetic. That is to say, just because you get a 10hp increase from a K&N air intake and a 25hp boost from a Bully Dog programmer, you won’t necessarily enjoy a combined surge of 35hp.

Performance parts don’t usually conflict with each other, but they may attempt to draw more power from the same inefficient stock setting. Let’s say you’ve recently paired an air intake with a throttle body spacer — two parts designed to optimize airflow for combustion. Individually, each part meets this goal, but combined, the horsepower boost may not amount to much more.

It all depends on the combination, however. Forget about the throttle body spacer and the programmer. When you combine an intake kit with a mass air flow (MAF) sensor, you can count on both increased airflow and the ability to better read and accommodate the extra air. Programmers, too, can change your fuel curve to recognize the extra air provided by the intake.

The only way to know for sure just how much horsepower you can expect to gain from any of these combinations is to test your vehicle on a dynamometer before and after.

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