The Scoop on Intake Systems

The Scoop on Intake Systems
by: F.R. Penn

The Scoop on Intake Systems: Rat Rod Flatty With Chrome Carb Hats
By User:Trekphiler (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The Scoop on Intake Systems

Intake systems are a vital part of your vehicle. If you are concerned with horsepower and optimal engine performance, it is imperative that your vehicle’s intake system operates at its full potential. There are also a number of custom and high performance replacement parts and systems that will boost your vehicle’s performance. Here is a brief description of some of the components of stock and specialty intake systems and why they are so important to your vehicle’s operation.

Cold Air Intake

The cold air intake increases power to your engine. It reduces the air temperature at the intake to be burned more efficiently in your combustion chamber. Proper cold air temperature provides increased power to the engine. An engine relies on a delicate balance of fuel and air for combustion. Cold air is much denser and holds more oxygen per volume than warm air. More oxygen molecules going in means a more efficient burn and more power in the combustion process. The result is more horsepower and better fuel economy. Cold air intake is often why most vehicles perform better in cooler or cold weather conditions. Engines that run in hotter climates require more precise timing to get enough cold air to the engine. A properly functioning cold air intake means an increase in throttle response and horsepower as well as a marked improvement in fuel economy. Most vehicles come with stock cold air intakes. Some experts claim that these draw in warmer air and their location in the vehicle inhibits proper cold airflow. Therefore, these stock intakes will not increase your engine performance or give fuel economy as well as high performance cold air intakes. For the coolest possible airflow, high performance products such as the dynamic APC (American Products Company) or performance enhanced AFE (Advanced Flow Engineering) cold air intake will generate a more efficient combustion process and increase horsepower and torque output.

Intake Manifold

The intake manifold is a network of channels that directs the balanced air and fuel mixture into the intake ports in the cylinder head. The flow generally advances from the throttle body into a chamber that feeds individual runners, leading to each intake port. Your engine performance is enhanced if the intake manifold is configured to optimize the pressure pulses in the intake system. A high performance or custom manifold is designed to take advantage of these facts and produce more horsepower and more mid-range torque.

Fuel Injectors

The fuel injector transfers and atomizes the fuel, and like many other engine components, a fuel injector has a finite performance life and must be periodically replaced. The fuel injection pump disperses very precisely measured amounts of fuel through the lines that run from the fuel pump delivery system to each injector. In turn, the injector atomizes and delivers fuel to the pre-chambers for internal combustion. When the injector gets dirty or “gummy”, engine performance can be drastically reduced and your injectors should be replaced. When the spring compression strength becomes weaker, usually due to wear, the pressure of the fuel inside the injector can exceed the spring pressure on the fuel injector. Obviously, this is not something you want to happen because it may keep the injector closed, deliver the improper amount of atomized fuel, or inject fuel at the wrong time to be efficiently burned, either too soon, or too late. It can also cause delivery of the fuel to the pre-chambers that is not finely and properly dispersed or atomized. Poor engine performance and possible irreversible engine damage can be the result. Pinging for a gas engine or Nailing in a diesel engine is a telling clue of this situation. Nailing in a diesel engine will be much noisier than a gas engine’s ping and sounds like metallic hammering. The resulting engine damage can be extremely costly and inconvenient, to say the least. It may make the engine smoke inordinately, and under extreme qualifying factors, it may cause flaws in the pre-chambers. In rare cases it may even cause them to crack or explode. The bottom line is one of obvious conclusion; changing your fuel injectors before this type of damage occurs will save you big money on costly repairs.

Fuel Pumps

The fuel pump is the central component of the fuel delivery system to your vehicle’s engine. Its function is to deliver fuel quickly and efficiently when you step on your accelerator. If your fuel pump isn’t operating correctly, if it generates lower than normal fuel pressure, or if it leaks, insufficient fuel will be supplied to the carburetor or fuel injection system and your vehicle’s performance will decrease. Sufficient gas isn’t going to get to the combustion chamber unless your fuel pump is providing the necessary fuel pressure as it was designed to do. Clean fuel is an essential part of performance. When replacing your fuel pump, be sure to also install a new fuel filter. This is an essential step to keep contaminants out of your fuel system. Clean fuel filters also ensure adequate fuel pressure. Strainers for electrical fuel pumps serve a similar service and fuel lines and hose conditions also can affect performance. Don’t forget that not all fuel pumps are the same. The fuel pump in general terms is unique to your model of vehicle and has been designed to deliver the optimum performance to your engine.

Fuel Pressure Regulators

This one is pretty much self-explanatory. It regulates your fuel pressure. As you already know, a properly operating fuel pressure regulator will deliver power and response in acceleration. Some performance pressure regulators have an integral pressure gauge feature that allows for even minute adjustment of fuel delivery.

Oxygen Sensor

Even though the oxygen sensor is located in the exhaust manifold, it has everything to do with the vehicle’s intake. The oxygen sensor monitors the oxygen content in your vehicle’s exhaust. A U-shaped rod inside the sensor is divided into compartments, and exhaust is vented to the inner compartment. An electrical impulse is then generated as a response to the oxygen content and the strength of the signal (oxygen content) is sent to your vehicle’s on-board computer. The computer then calculates the oxygen content in the exhaust. Analyzing the results, the computer adds or subtracts fuel at the intake to obtain the correct air/fuel mixture. This maximizes fuel economy as well as performance. Oxygen sensors have a limited life and can wear out. A worn oxygen sensor will provide less accuracy and may report erroneous oxygen content in the exhaust when worn and the on-board computer may then make incorrect adjustments as a result. This could result in either a rich or lean air/fuel mixture. If your “check engine” light comes on and the vehicle is not performing well, check the oxygen sensor. Some experts say that changing the oxygen sensor every 60,000 miles is necessary to maintain vehicle performance.

Other vital Components There are many other vital components included in intake systems that should be checked regularly and replaced or upgraded for better performance. They include:

* A.I.R. Pipe
* Air Filter
* Air Filter Recharge Kit
* Air Inject Check Valve
* Air Mass Meter
* Air Mass Sensor
* Air Pump
* Air Temp. Sensor
* Breather Filter
* Carburetors
* Carbon Canister
* EGR Back Pressure Filter
* EGR Vacuum Solenoid
* EGR Valve
* EGR Valve Gasket
* PCV Valve
* PCV Valve Grommet
* Purge Valve
* Thermo-Vacuum Valve

About The Author

This article was written by FR Penn sponsored by The Auto Parts Warehouse offers round-the-clock sales support as well as free shipping within the 48 states for orders over $50. Also, you’ll find more BMW auto parts here than anywhere else on the web. Visit Reproductions of this article are encouraged but must include a link pointing back to

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