Our cars and trucks are powered by some advanced equipment. From modern transmission systems to driver assistance braking, this high-tech equipment continues to push the industry forward.
While there are numerous parts that help our vehicles run at a high level, an air intake system is one of the most important. However, if you want to give your car, truck, or SUV a little boost, a cold air intake system is a great solution.
In this post, we'll discuss more about cold air intake systems, including how they work, their components, and how they can benefit your ride!
What is a Car Air Intake System?
In a standard internal combustion engine, there are three critical things your vehicle needs to produce energy and run efficiently:
- A spark
Luckily, our atmosphere provides the right amount of oxygen for this process. That leaves us needing fuel and a spark to find the necessary power and energy for your car's engine. However, air and fuel must be mixed before being exposed to the spark.
In simple terms, an air intake system delivers the air your car needs. It adds air into your car's combustion cycle and straight into the engine. When this system is working correctly, your engine should have a continuous flow of air.
This constant air flow can lead to several advantages, including:
- Greater power
- More consistent power
- Improved gas mileage
Without an air intake system, your vehicle would suffer. As the engine compartment is flooded with warm air from the combustion process, the increased air flow helps to cool down the engine. This cooler air allows your system to work as it should! Without this system in place, engine performance would significantly decline, fuel consumption would rise, and your car may not last very long.
The process of a car's air intake system is as follows:
- The system brings air outside of the vehicle into the intake manifold of the engine.
- This air then mixes with fuel from your gas tank.
- The fuel/air mixture is ignited and pushed through your vehicle's engine cylinders.
- This process creates physical energy, which helps your vehicle drive.
Without this process in place, there wouldn't be a continuous internal combustion reaction. This would cause a very unstable vehicle overall, possibly leading to engine failure. That said, it's important to ensure your car's air intake system is in tip-top shape!
Main Parts of Intake Systems
Intake systems are comprised of three primary parts.
Take a look at how these parts work and why they're necessary for a functioning system:
1. Air Filter
An air filter is an essential component that cleans the outside air coming into the system. This vital part is usually surrounded by a metallic or plastic box, and the filter also has a dedicated filtration screen. You'll typically find the air filter ahead of your car's intake manifold or throttle valve assembly.
To find your car's air filter, pop the hood and look for a compartment shaped like a box. This is typically near your throttle valve assembly. This air filter resembles the common filters you see in your home or appliances.
The main purpose of an intake system's filter is to filter out dirt, debris, and other particles that could negatively impact your system. Without these filters in place, airborne contaminants can infiltrate your intake unit, clog it up, and even lead to damaging your vehicle's engine!
Additionally, the cleaner and purer the incoming air, the more efficient your car will run. A clean air filter can lead to extra horsepower, better fuel economy, and an improved vehicle overall!
2. Mass Flow Sensor
While an air filter is crucial for an intake system to run properly, it's also important to control the amount of air that enters the unit. If there's too much air or not enough of it, this can lead to problems. There must be the perfect balance of air, fuel, and combustion. Without this balance, your car may fail to find the energy needed for your driving needs.
When it comes to mass flow sensors, there are two types used in modern engines today:
- Vane meters
- Hot wires
Vane meters work by measuring the movement of certain flaps within the system. These flaps are pushed by incoming air from the filter tube, and the flap moves further back as more air enters the chamber. The vane meter measures this flap movement to estimate the amount of air that enters the engine at one time.
The hot wires method works with two different sensing wires: one that's heated and one that's not. When you press down the throttle, more air enters the system, which cools down the heated wire. As the temperatures change between the two wires, the mass flow sensor will automatically increase or decrease the energy to the heated wire until the two wires are at the same temperature.
The current measured by the sensor is then changed to a voltage or frequency that's interpreted as air flow by the electronic control unit. This will then determine how much air should enter the system, and the air flow is adjusted accordingly.
3. Throttle Body
While a mass flow sensor measures and controls air flow within the system, the throttle body is also a huge piece of the puzzle. In fact, the throttle body helps to control the amount of air entering the engine's combustion chamber. This component consists of a housing unit and a throttle plate, which rotates on a shaft.
As you push down on your car's accelerator pedal, this opens up the plate throttle and brings more air into the engine. When the gas pedal is released, the opposite occurs; the throttle plate closes, reducing the amount of air flow into the unit.
This function helps to control the air flow moving into the combustion chamber, which ultimately leads to efficient engine performance and greater fuel economy!
What is a Cold Air Intake System?
While an air intake system is essential to the proper functioning of a vehicle, a cold air intake system is an upgrade that can lead to several impressive benefits. In simple terms, a cold air intake system is a more advanced version of the unit we mentioned above.
As hot air is found near your engine, this leads to lower oxygen density. By adding a cold air intake unit, this increases the oxygen density within the system. This component can lead to lasting benefits for your engine and vehicle overall! In fact, a cold air intake system results in greater engine power and improved fuel efficiency.
This happens because there's more oxygen found in cool air compared to warm or hot air. Therefore, by pumping colder air into the engine, this allows your car to breathe easier and run more efficiently!
Keep in mind your car already comes with a stock air intake system. However, these aren't always the best quality, so you may run into some problems, such as a clogged unit. That said, upgrading to an aftermarket intake system can lead to fewer clogs, improved air flow, and a better functioning vehicle!
What Does a Cold Air Intake System Do?
So, you may be wondering how much of a difference a cold air intake really makes. With the hassle of finding this component and dealing with the installation process, is it all worth it?
We certainly think so!
As this is a relatively affordable product with a simple installation process, something you can easily do yourself, we believe the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.
Take a look at the many advantages of adding a cold air intake system to your ride:
Better Gas Mileage
Finding the right air-to-fuel ratio is the primary goal of your cold air intake system. As the unit leads to more oxygen for your engine, this ultimately results in better gas mileage! The more oxygen your engine has, the less fuel it consumes.
As your engine works more effectively and efficiently with more oxygen, this increases the horsepower of your vehicle. Furthermore, engines run better with cooler air flow, resulting in fuel that burns more efficiently.
By installing a cold air intake, you may also notice a boost in your car's acceleration. While your engine can breathe a little easier and burn less fuel, this can result in improved responsiveness when you hit the gas pedal. This level of efficiency lets you reach higher speeds in less time.
Upgrade to a Cold Air Intake System Today
Dealing with clogs in your stock intake system? Looking to boost performance and reach greater fuel efficiency? If so, pick up a cold air intake system from the experts here at Specialty Performance Parts! We carry some of the leading vehicle components in the industry, and our customer service is top-notch! Whether you have a Ford-150, Raptor, Bronco, or Ranger, we have the products for you.