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What to know about vehicle air intake systems

If you are looking to tune and improve your vehicle, then look no further than your vehicle’s air intake system. A good air intake system can greatly benefit the health, power, and longevity of your vehicle. You can continue reading and learn everything you will need to know about your vehicle’s air intake system.

When looking at vital components of a vehicle, its air intake system is as vital as oil. The reason for this is that the air intake system is responsible for providing air for combustion and cooling down the engine. Without combustion, the vehicle simply will not run at all and without good-quality cooling, overheating can cause serious engine damage or even failure.

What are the benefits of Improved Air Intake?

The key benefits of improved air intake systems are increased horsepower, better miles per gallon, less required maintenance, longer filter lifespan, and reduced engine wear. These benefits are further improved by upgrading to cold air intake systems, which will be explained in detail below.

The Components of an Air Intake System

It’s time to explain the components of the intake system itself and how each component works to provide your car with the aforementioned benefits. Three core components comprise the intake system. The air filter, the throttle body, and the mass airflow sensor, and each component will play a key role in a well-functioning air intake system.

Air Filter

The air filter is the first, the most familiar, and the most integral part of a vehicle’s air intake system. The air filter is similar to a coffee filter in many ways. A coffee filter keeps the grounds out of your morning coffee, and your vehicle’s air filter keeps hard particles such as dirt, sand, and gravel from entering your engine. Without an air filter, total engine failure or serious damage is very likely to happen. Dirt, sand, and rocks being able to freely enter your vehicle’s combustion chamber would very quickly cause your vehicle to stop functioning.

Mass Air Flow Sensor

The second component inside a vehicle’s intake system is the mass airflow sensor, which is located directly after the air filter. The main job of this sensor is to measure the amount of air intake into your engine.

This sensor is important because it allows the vehicle the ability to balance the air intake needed based on its current speed. There are two ways this can be done, either through a vane meter (the most common) or the hot wire.

A vane meter operates with a simple flap that is measured base on how far it’s being pushed back by the air. Most vane systems have two flaps for a more accurate reading.

The second is the hot wire, which operates by using air resistance and two wires with an electrical current. The higher the speed of air the less resistance and more current that is allowed to flow. It works by measuring the amount of electrical current that can flow and then balancing accordingly.

Throttle Body

The final component of an intake system is the throttle body. The throttle body’s main goal is to limit and control the amount of air that enters the combustion chamber. This is important because by controlling the air, you control the amount of power the accelerator provides. Too much air inside will overrev the vehicle causing loss of control and fuel waste. Whilst too little air will be unable to provide the torque needed to accelerate properly.

The way the throttle body accomplishes this is by changing the distance between two plates to modify airflow, either creating a smaller or larger gap. This works simply, the wider the gap the more air that is allowed to flow in, and the smaller the gap the less air that is allowed to flow into the engine. Without control over the air intake into the combustion chamber, the driver would lose the ability to control the speed of the vehicle.

Cold Air Intake

Moving further into the improved performance side of things, a cold air intake system is the same type of system mentioned before, but is more advanced and offers significant performance gains. The system, as its name states, brings colder air into the engine which provides multiple benefits over a typical warm-air system.

Firstly, cold air is much denser than warm air. This allows for more air to enter the combustion chamber resulting in more power and quicker burn efficiency. This also provides an additional cosmetic benefit of changing the soundscape of your engine, making your vehicle not only perform better but also sound better.

The way this works differently is by swapping the air filter housing with a conical-shaped filter with heat protection. This is done to keep the air cooler, which allows the filter to provide the additional benefits mentioned above. A great example of a system that does this is the Volant PowerCore Cool Air Intake.

On the topic of improving performance via cold air, it’s valuable to mention that all engines can be benefitted from this and be upgraded in some compacity.

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