There is no perfect air intake. Every air intake system or setup has core, inherent weaknesses; different or similar to each other, such as heat and performance issues. Intake systems are a tricky thing to understand, even though these may look like “plug and play” options. Go in-depth and there is a vast world to rediscover that will blow your mind all over again; with key components such as intake elbows, intake piping length and diameter, as well as material matter.
Off the factory line, the stock air intake system of a car is specifically designed to deliver maximum efficiency at a low cost. These plastic bits make up the air box, including piping, hoses, reservoir, etc. While these do well for a stock engine, there is so much more potential locked within the engine, waiting to be unleashed. Sure, swapping a panel filter or changing the intake pod will help alleviate your engine’s lack of breath, but is it really all going into the engine as advertised?
We discussed the benefits of having an enlarged throttle body on top of the usual tuning options of swapping the stock air box for either a panel filter or an open pod intake. Now, we are taking the air intake upgrade into its next step; the intake manifold.
The intake manifold is the bent, multipiped looking component located right after the throttle body. These are the final bits that feed controlled inputs of air into each of the engine’s cylinders, just before the intake valves. This is possibly the final piece of the air intake trickery that some oversee in their pursuit of better response at higher RPMs. Stock intake manifolds are usually smaller in diameter, which means that air is still constricted going into the engine block. There is also an issue with certain stock intake manifolds; with cheaper material used to build it, the heat from the engine bay will definitely raise the temperature of the air going through the intake manifold.
Although all these may seem like a major headache, fret not. There are means of improving the system through several means; an aftermarket option or a selfported alternative, as well as coating options available. Aftermarket manifolds are often tuned offerings for owners going lengths to improving the response and power of their engine. These are often intake manifolds that are specifically made to fit the stock position of a car’s throttle body. Possessing larger diameter ports than their stock brethren, these are able to channel a larger volume of air that the intake and throttle body can allow.
Self-ported alternatives are intake manifolds that can be ported by machine or hand. This is a cheaper alternative as compared to purchasing an entire intake manifold. To port an intake manifold means that the inlet and outlet of the manifold is enlarged through abrasive means, while polishing helps to smoothen the ports, allowing smooth airflow which is clearly needed at higher revolutions. To counter the problem of hot air coursing through the intake manifold, a simple coating of heat resistant paint could be applied on the manifold to stem rising air temperatures going into the engine.
This is almost an essential for the serious performance enthusiast who hits the circuit on a regular basis, driving under extreme conditions that require the best airflow the engine can get to garner better response and power at higher RPMs. Combine this with a good air intake system, an enlarged throttle body and good tuning, one can be assured of substantial gains on the dyno and reduced times on the track!Again, determine your driving needs. Going in-depth with a tuned intake manifold is relatively serious business. Changing this will alter the response of your throttle to usually attain more power at higher revolutions. Recognise your needs before proceeding further and speak to your mechanic before making any purchase or enhancing your intake manifold!