Aftermarket air intakes are looked at as being a win-win modification on cars. In many cases people get one because its a cheap way to get this extra imaginary oomph. The biggest advantage would be the noise & less maintenance.
Another discussion about air intakes have spawned on evolve.ae after watching the following video:
I have been testing layouts with Short Ram intakes for two years now on my current naturally aspirated ride. I already documented my experiences in this post. Most of the time there wasn’t any significant power gain; at moments power & fuel economy reduced. Apparently the main reason to that is due to poorly laying out the intake’s filter location, ventilation hose, etc.
The real conclusion is in order to get the best gains you need to discover the perfect layout to allow for efficient air-flow, air temperature & blow-by ventilation. The Nissan Skyline in the above video is turbo charged and the power gains are insignificant with forced induction applications since the turbo-charger does all the induction work.
What encouraged me to go for an air intake upgrade, in the first place, was an article in the August 2003 issue of Turbo & Hi-Tech Performance magazine. The article featured a Honda Integra project with a goal to bump up the Integra’s stock power output of 160 horsepower to 200 horsepower without using forced induction while managing to pass emission tests. This was meant to be achieved by simply relying on intake, exhaust and chip tuning.
The article included performance charts, from dyno runs, comparing the engine’s power output after each modification was installed; most notable was the massive gain of 10 horsepower from theAEM cold air intake. I am not sure how it was managed but the guys who worked on the project were impressed themselves. I doubt such figures can be achieved in our super hot summer weather out of an air intake.
The first graph shows a peak output of 161.2 hp and 125.1 lb-ft of torque in stock trim. The second graph below shows a peak output of 171.3 hp and 130.5 lb-ft of torque after the AEM cold air intake was installed.
Well, the verdict would be as follows: tuning garages exist for a reason and most of them should know how to eliminate such restrictions; allowing you to make the best out of your hard earned money. Still this is one discussion that will not simply end; lots of cars out there come with a huge variety of layouts, systems and will react differently to aftermarket setups.
Finally, it is always important to learn as much as you can about any performance modification you intend to install on your vehicle; I personally learned the long hard way and I failed to achieve any proper power gains but I still want to experiment a little bit more as soon as this hell of a summer comes to an end.