This week I wanted to talk a little about cold air induction systems. Last week I talked about standard air filter maintenance and a few people ask me about my thoughts on high performance air intakes. I also wanted to provide a little history about how far scooping up air for the engine has come.
Back in the old days before all of the emission system controls the air induction system was quite simple it basically consisted of an air cleaner housing mounted on top of the carburetor with a simple filter inside of the metal housing.
Although it was simplified its function was the same as it is today and that is to provide a generous quantity of air that has been filtered free of grit and dirt. The air intake system on a modern fuel injected engine is much more complicated.
On modern vehicles more attention is paid to trying to pull cool air from outside the engine compartment into the air filter assembly. Where as in the old days the air filters sat on top of the engine it is more common today to find the air filter placed below the top of the engine to allow for more efficient aerodynamic body designs.
What Does a Cold Air Induction System Do
Just like in the old days its main task is to filter the air to protect the engine from sand, dust, dirt and debris. If this undesired material finds its way into the combustion chamber, wear or damage to cylinder walls and piston rings can occur quickly. The air induction system is also used to silence the air intake noise on some models.
Also on some models the air induction system can monitor the airflow and temperature of the air that is entering the intake manifold. This can become extremely important when it comes to emissions and maximum fuel economy calculations that are performed by the on-board computers.
Some air induction systems will also use a venture vacuum effect to operate a positive crankcase ventilation system or better known as PCV that will prevent a buildup of undesired gases in the crankcase. These gases are pulled into the intake stream and mixed with the intake charge and burned during combustion. This system is also critical so that pressure does not build up inside the engine and push out sealing gaskets. I have seen cases where the PCV system has failed and it has actually caused severe engine oil leaks.
Do You Need a Cold Air Induction System
If you have an older vehicle especially one from the 90s purchasing an aftermarket cold air induction kit can improve fuel economy and performance in many cases. During the 90s vehicle manufacturers were slowly becoming aware of the importance played in pulling in cold fresh air not just for performance but fuel economy increases as well.
In the decade to follow the manufacturers to keep up with the increasing demands for better gas mileage and lower emissions adapted factory cold air induction systems that worked very well. In my opinion the newer your vehicle is the less you will need an aftermarket cold air induction kit.
Fuel injected vehicles from the late 80s and early 90s seem to have the most to gain from these aftermarket cold air induction systems. Again this is just my opinion and your results will vary depending on the year make and model of your vehicle and the design of your factory air induction system.
For more of the latest posts to this blog you can visit this next link that brings you to a summary page of the latest articles from this page about cold air induction kits. You can also visit last week’s post that talks about standard automotive air filter maintenance.