A closer look at how a car intake system works

Did you know that an upgraded cold air intake can add horsepower to your vehicle, depending on the size of the motor, model, and the type of intake used? Upgrading your engine and adding more horsepower all start with the air intake system.

What Does a Car Intake System Do?

The vehicle’s air intake system is a vital part of an engine setup. Essentially, what the air intake system does is suck air into the engine that it needs in order to perform combustion and power the wheels. The more air that you can then get into the engine, the higher the combustion will be, and the more horsepower you will get up to a certain point.

Without it, the engine will be starved of air and won’t be able to run smoothly or even run at all. This air that gets sucked in also helps in cooling the engine down somewhat, and without it, the engine would have overheating issues.

When correctly functioning, a car intake system provides continuous airflow into your engine, resulting in increased, consistent power and even improved vehicle mileage.

Parts of the Air Intake System

The air intake system has three main parts that are responsible for making it all work. Without one of these parts, the whole system wouldn’t work correctly. It’s vital to keep them properly maintained.

Air Filter

The air filter is the first and primary component of the whole system. The job of the air filter is to remove any hard particles from the air such as dirt, little stones, and sand. This filtering stops these contaminants from entering your engine and clogging up the intake system.

Without it, the intake system wouldn’t be able to breathe properly and no air would pass the contaminants that are still behind. It also stops your engine from failing because if these small particles were to enter your engine, they would ruin your combustion chamber and your engine would cease to operate.

Throttle Body

The next component is the throttle body. The throttle body is the last component of the car intake system but plays an equally vital role. The throttle body controls the amount of air that passes into the engine after the air has passed the air filter and the mass flow sensor.

How does it do this? Well, every time you push your accelerator, little plates inside the throttle body open up, allowing air to pass through. The further down the accelerator is pushed, the wider the plates open, and more is air released in the intake manifold.

Without this component, the air wouldn’t be able to be controlled by the engine and the engine would overrev out of control. Therefore, the throttle body controls the combustion rate and your vehicle’s speed.

Mass Air Flow Sensor

The second component in the chain is the mass airflow sensor. This sensor can be found on the tubing right after the air filter housing. What the airflow sensor does is that it estimates the amount of air flowing into your engine at one time and balances out the energy needs of your current speed.

Flaps that are pushed by the incoming air from the filter tube. As more air comes in, the flap pushes further back and is measured by the meter inside the sensor which estimates how much air is going into the engine.

Turbocharged Vehicles

On vehicles equipped with a turbocharger, the system is almost the same as a naturally aspirated engine except air has to pass through the turbocharger inlet.

The returning exhaust gases then return into the turbine housing and spin the compressor wheel inside the turbocharger housing. A cold air intake on a turbocharger assures that cold enters the engine, increasing the horsepower. The returning air is cooled by the intercooler, allowing for cool air once again to enter the combustion chamber.

Cold Air Intake Systems

Cold air intake systems are the same as the system above but are advanced systems. As the name suggests, a cold air intake system brings cooler air into the combustion chamber.

Cold air has a higher oxygen density, resulting in a better combustion reaction, producing more power from your engine. In plain, cold air burns better than warm air, so it burns quicker and stronger inside your engine.

A cold air intake system operates by replacing the standard plastic air filter housing with a metal tube that leads into a cone shape filter. Heat shields are added to protect the air filter from the surrounding heat of the engine, which will rapidly heat the air.

It’s important to note that every single engine, no matter how small, makes use of these principles and can be upgraded in some way.

Improve Speed and Efficiency

When it comes down to a car intake system, upgrading and installing a cold air intake system is the way to go. Not only will your mileage per gallon improve, but your engine will also breathe better. Less maintenance will be required, and you get an added bonus of an increase in horsepower.