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> Performance Air Intake Systems Guide

Performance Air Intake Systems Guide

Publish Date
August 13, 2015

In the search for more horsepower and torque, one of the easiest modifications to make to your vehicle is the addition of an aftermarket air intake system. An aftermarket intake system replaces your stock intake with performance components that deliver a higher volume of air to the intake manifold. When your engine can take in more air, it can burn fuel more efficiently and create more power. While many people desire an air intake for performance gains, there can be confusion over what type of intake to get. Let’s take a detailed look at the three main aftermarket intake types.

Cold Air Intakes (CAI)

An aftermarket cold air intake kit is made with one goal in mind: performance. These intakes replace your vehicle’s airbox and intake duct with a new open element filter and intake tube positioned further away from the engine in order to provide a colder charge of incoming air. Colder air is denser and contains more oxygen which leads to a more complete combustion cycle. This in turn leads to increased horsepower and torque, as well as a more aggressive sound under throttle. Popular examples include the K&N FIPK and aFe Magnum Force Stage 2.

aFe Stage 2 Cold Air Intake on a Ford EcoBoost motor.
aFe Cold Air Intake on a Ram.

Short Ram Intakes

The biggest distinction between a short ram and a cold air intake is that while a CAI replaces and relocates your intake filter and tubing, a short ram replaces items in their stock location. This makes the short ram intake easier to install, but less effective at increasing power since it only draws in a greater volume of air than a stock intake, rather than bringing in cooler air like a CAI. With that being said, short ram intakes are popular replacements for vehicle owners who want to improve air flow while retaining a close-to-stock underhood appearance. AEM Short Ram Intakes are a great choice in this category.

AEM Short Ram Intake with purple tube.
AEM Short Ram Intake

Ram Air Intakes

This system features an intake duct which is added to the front of the vehicle and exposed directly to air outside of the engine compartment. A ram air intake system uses the vehicle’s forward motion to force air through an outer duct opening, creating a small forced-induction effect. Usually reserved for vehicles equipped with turbo or superchargers, forced induction creates a denser fuel charge by compressing incoming air to create a denser intake charge. If you’re looking for the biggest power gain available from an intake system, a ram air intake such as those offered by Banks Power is the way to go.

Banks Ram Air Intake.
Banks Ram Air on a Jeep.

No matter which intake you choose, you’ll increase airflow to your vehicle’s engine, improve fuel efficiency, and enjoy increased power. If you have any questions about air intake systems for your vehicle, chat in or call our product experts at 877-216-5446.