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Apex Motorsports 12-20-2012 01:23 PM

THE Air Intake Thread
What Is The Best Intake For My Camaro?

This is a pretty common question for new Camaro owners. Here is a little information about intakes and the pros and cons of each type of system to help you to make an educated decision about what is best for your application. And feel free to shoot me a PM or give us a call if you have any questions.


Vehicle engineers have many factors other than maximum performance to consider when they design OEM intake systems (noise level, fuel economy, emissions, etc.) and in the process leave plenty of room for improvement. Aftermarket air intake systems replace the factory air box and tubing with more efficient components designed to create more power. The two big things that aftermarket air intakes systems strive to do are:

1) Draw in large amounts of cool dense air from outside the hot engine compartment. The more air your engine can suck in and push out the more power it will make.

2) Reduce the restriction in the intake system by increasing the diameter of the tubing, smoothing out the interior of the intake, eliminating baffles and muffling devices, and limiting the number and severity of any bends in the tubing.

Aftermarket air intake manufacturers address these tasks in many different ways but the most common types of intake designs are what we will refer to as the long tube, heat shield, sealed air box, and "ram air" or OTR systems. Prices vary considerably, from as low as $200 up to as much as $600, as does the improvement in performance. Poorly designed systems can actually cause your engine to make less power, while a quality system can add 10-20 rear wheel horsepower. In your search you will no doubt come across advertisements that mention outlandish horsepower gains, this should be an instant red flag.


What is the most logical way ensure that you are drawing cool fresh air from outside the engine compartment into your intake? Place the air filter outside the engine compartment! That is exactly what is done with the long tube intake systems. Injen Technology is probably the most well known manufacturer that utilizes this approach. These systems ditch the stock intake tube and air box lay out for a long intake tube that places the air filter outside the engine compartment behind the front facia. This approach typically produces solid horsepower gains across the entire RPM range in stock and mildly modified cars.

So the long tube design is best! Well, not necessarily. The low placement of the air filter behind the front bumper leaves it vulnerable to ingesting water which can lead to a hydro-locked engine. That is the kind of thing that would not be covered under warranty. Also, the multiple 90 degree bends in the intake tube cause restriction that will actually hold back higher power engines. This is especially true for those with forced induction.


These systems opt to keep the filter inside the engine compartment and utilize the same general lay out as the stock system in an effort to avoid the shortcomings of the long tube design. K&N and Roto-Fab are the two best known manufacturers employing this design. The stock intake tube is replaced with a more efficient tube that eliminates the stock baffles and muffling devices and reduces the severity of the single bend. The stock air box is replaced by a heat shield and a rubber weather strip that lines the edge of the shield to seal with the car’s body and hood to isolate the air filter from the hot engine compartment. Cool air is typically fed into the sealed off area by the same channel from the front grill that fed the stock air box. These type of intake systems are typically the most affordable because they are relatively easy to engineer and inexpensive to manufacture.

The performance improvement from intakes of this design vary greatly from system to system. Some produce decent gains while others produce little to no gains whatsoever, in some cases very poorly engineered systems have even shown losses. The units that produce good gains are the better engineered systems that do not leave gaps around the heat shield and achieve a good seal. When considering a system of this design it is critical that you ensure the heat shield is designed to completely isolate the air filter from the engine compartment. If there are gaps, look at another system. Also, pay attention to how severe the 90 degree bend in the intake tube just forward of the throttle body is (as wide and gradual of a bend as possible) and if the system takes steps to resist heat soak (material, coatings, insulation).


The sealed air box design employs the same lay out as the heat shield and stock intake system but utilizes a sealed air box in order to avoid the shortcomings of the heat shield design. Gaps around a heat shield or a bad weather strip seal are not an issue with these systems as the air filter is completely isolated from the hot engine compartment. These air boxes are much larger than the stock box they replace and contain a much larger air filter. Like the heat shield design, the restrictive stock tube is replaced with a more efficient tube and the air box is fed cool air through the same channel from the front grill that fed the stock air box. Cold Air Inductions Inc. (CAI Inc.) is the leading manufacturer of this type of intake system for the 2010+ Camaro.

This design typically produces strong horsepower gains for everything from stock cars all the way up to high powered monsters. When considering a sealed air box system pay attention to how severe the 90 degree bend in the intake tube just forward of the throttle body is (as wide and gradual of a bend as possible) and whether or not the system takes steps to resist heat soak (material, coatings, insulation).

"RAM AIR" or Over The Radiator (OTR) SYSTEMS

The first thing you must understand about this type of system is that "Ram Air" is a marketing phrase. Ram air theory simply does not work in this application. OTR systems do provide as straight a path as is possible to the intake manifold though by ditching the stock intake configuration and doing exactly what the name suggests, they go directly over the radiator. This approach is outstanding from a restriction reduction stand point. Vararam is the best known manufacturer of these types of systems.

The OTR design typically produces solid gains top end gains. However, installation of this type of system requires that the radiator be leaned back which is not ideal for engine cooling. In a race application this can become a big problem but for the typical street car it is not as big of an issue. Also, the placement of the intake opening above the radiator can lead to heat soak and high IATs at low RPMs. Those are the two big things to keep in mind when considering a OTR system.

Apex Motorsports 12-20-2012 01:24 PM

Oiled Air Intake Filters
By: Bill Hylton

When choosing an air filter for your vehicle, a very common question is whether a dry media filter (paper filter) or an oiled filter is the best choice. There has been much debate to this subject to determine which filter actually performs better, considering things such as filtration, airflow, longevity and overall performance. The debate has been fought from both sides and there is a lot confusion surrounding this subject but the filter of choice for the performance industry is the oiled filter.

One of the most common myths surrounding oiled filters is that they will cause problems with your MAF sensor. Oiled filters do not cause MAF sensor problems. Oiled filter owners that excessively oil their filters cause MAF sensor problems. This is no different than if you fill your vehicles engine with too much oil, causing damage to it. As long as the directions are adhered to when using your cleaning kit supplied by the manufacturer, you should have no problems. If you do end up with oil on your MAF it is an easy fix. Simply swing by your local parts store and pick up a can of MAF cleaner.

The 3 main requirements that were important to us are the same characteristics that are important to all consumers when choosing an air filter; those 3 items are filtration, air flow and longevity.

Filtration and Airflow:

In order for a dry media, paper air filter to filter dirt effectively, the filter and its fibers must be thick and densely compressed in order for them to filtrate up to industry standards. That being said, this denser and thicker media becomes more restrictive, not allowing air to flow as fast and efficiently as it could. Due to this restrictive media, over time, a dry media paper filter will build up with more and more dust and dirt particles. Once debris has built up to a certain point, the pressure inside the filter will drop while the air pressure outside the filter will remain the same. If the buildup gets too bad, and the difference in pressure becomes too great, it can result in a dry media paper filter to cave in or collapse on itself. In addition, an excessively high difference in pressure between the inside and outside of the filter, brought on by an overly clogged filter media, can literally pull dirt particles through the paper medium. This causes the air flow and filtration to decrease as the filter becomes more and more clogged.

In comparison, oiled filters include multiple layers of oiled cotton or gauze fabric which captures dirt and debris more effectively. The debris entering the filter will actually stick to the oiled fibers of the filter, and actually become part of the filtering media. This process, sometimes referred to as depth loading by some filter manufacturers, allows the filter to retain more dirt per square inch than a paper filter. On many oiled filters, the cotton or gauze fabric is then meshed between pleated aluminum screens. Pleating the layers of filter media increases the surface area which allows the filter to be in use longer, and capture more debris than a standard non oiled and/or non-pleated filter media.
As dust particles enter the filter they are stopped by the interwoven layers and are then captured in place through the oil. Dirt and debris that are retained on the surface of an oiled filter media have little effect on air flow because there are no small holes to clog like there would be on a paper filter media due to the interwoven layers. So when a paper filter starts to clog, an oiled filter media is still filtering debris just as effectively as when you purchased it, as well as retaining a higher level of airflow. This is due largely to the oiled filter media as well as the method that is used to hold the layers together.

When tested, oiled filter media will have less restricted flow when compared to a dry media paper filter on a flow bench test. Although an oiled filter media may have between 4 and 8 layers of filtration, it still flows faster and less restricted than a paper filter that is densely bound together. So while filtration is increased, the flow is also increased because of the manner in which the filter layers are constructed.


Another great reason to choose an oiled filter over a dry paper filter is for the longevity and cost savings it will provide you. On average, a paper filter should be replaced between 4,000 to 5,000 miles or every oil change. Typically the average cost of a paper filter is about $10 to $12. After one year of driving 15,000 miles, at least 3 paper filters are needed, this totals $30 to $35. An oiled filter will generally run from $25 to $50, but will never need to be replaced! Therefore an oiled filter will “pay itself off” so to speak in 1-2 years. As long as you plan on driving for more than another 2 years, your costs saving over the life of the vehicle will greatly add up, especially if you are paying for the labor to replace the filter at your dealer or local auto shop. Considering the fact that you may only need to “recharge” your oiled filter a few times during the course of its service life, and that It will never need to be replaced, it makes vehicle maintenance simpler and more affordable.

Apex Motorsports 12-20-2012 01:24 PM

How To Properly Recharge An Oiled Filter

Another frequently asked question is how to properly clean and re-oil an oiled filter (this process is often referred to as “recharging” your filter). The answer is typically a lot simpler than most consumers expect to hear! By recharging the filter you can reduce air flow restriction caused by debris build up on the filter, as well as bring the filter closer to its original appearance. Recharging the filter prolongs the longevity of the filter, allowing you to re-use it rather than discarding it, thus making your oiled filter a lifetime use filter.

Most oiled filters use the same recharge process and many times the same type of filter oil. The process described below is the shamelessly highjacked directions for the Cold Air Inductions Inc. high performance oiled air filter, and is not intended to be followed or implied as proper recharge instructions for all other brand filters. Although most of the oiled filters on the market follow the same basic recharge steps, it is always recommended to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer of your oiled filter. Here are the steps to recharge a CAI Inc. oiled filter:

**Before starting ensure to use the proper safety precautions such as gloves and safety glasses**

Step 1. Remove - Remove the filter from your vehicle and ensure that no dirt or other debris enters the intake tube while the filter is off.

Step 2. Pre-Clean - Using your hand and/or compressed air (no more than 100 psi using a standard air nozzle) remove the larger visible debris from the outside of the filter. When using compressed air keep the nozzle at least 6” from the filter media.

Step 3. Clean - Spray the outside of the filter with the supplied CAI Inc. cleaning solution until the entire outer filter media is evenly saturated. Allow the filter to rest so the solution can soak in for 15 minutes.

Step 4. Rinse - Rinse the Filter with warm water by running the water from the clean side of the filter thru to the dirty side of the filter, so that the water can flush the dirt out and off of the filter.

Step 5. Dry - Allow the filter to air dry naturally. (DO NOT use heat sources in attempt to dry the filter faster as this may damage the filter media fibers and/or shrink them.)

Step 6. Oil – Once dry, apply the supplied CAI Inc. oil solution to the outside of the filter media using 1 spray for every 2 square inches of filter media. DO NOT OVER OIL

Step 7. Dry – Allow oiled filter to dry for 30 minutes so that oil can soak into and “recharge” the filter media. You should be able to handle the filter without the oil coming off on your hands, once this is the case your filter is ready to be reinstalled.

Step 8. Reinstall – Properly reinstall your recharged filter and make sure all connections are tight.

Step 9. Drink A Beer
- Figure that one out on your own.

Apex Motorsports 12-20-2012 01:25 PM

GM uses two supplier for Camaro SS MAF sensors. The simple explanation is that "weak" sensors from one of the suppliers are not showing the same resistance levels as the "strong" sensors from the other. Both work fine when the car remains stock but when additional airflow is introduced the "weak" sensor can start to become a problem.

The MAF sensors that have been identified as "weak" read 1560-1670HZ at idle with the A/C off while a "strong" MAF reads at 1800MHZ. During on road, light throttle input the MHZ are slow and weak in response to throttle changes which causes hesitation, throttle lag, and poor driveability. At wide open throttle the "weak" MAF shows 120-170MHZ lower than the 8600MHZ the "strong" MAF sensors will show on the same car. Depending on what intake modifications are made the fuel trim with a "weak" MAF can range from -25% on the high end to -3% with just a simple aftermarket panel replacement filter.

So what kind of performance issues will a "weak" MAF sensor present? Slow throttle response, low RPM bunking and surging, choppy idle, bogging when downshifting or applying quick heavy throttle inputs, and more. The good news is that all you have to do is pull the "weak" sensor and install a "strong" sensor and within seconds fuel trim is back to 0% and MHZ are back to 1800+. This will instantly change the personality of a car as was demonstrated in the threads below.

Issue SOLVED strong MAF

Strong MAF sensor. Believe the hype

How can I tell if my MAF is "weak" or "strong"?

It is very simple. Remove the MAF sensor from your intake tube and take a look at the code inside the indented window. Any single letter MAF is "weak" and any MAF that features a letter followed by a number like the one in the picture below is "strong".

Setting things straight

There are two points of confusion that seem to constantly come up when this topic is discussed:

1) This is a hardware issue with the MAF sensor and not a tune issue. The "weak" MAF needs to be replaced and the issue can not be corrected with a tune.

2) The "weak" sensors function just fine and are within OEM tolerances when the car remains in the stock configuration. Once additional air flow is introduced due to modifications is when problems arise. Because of that it is not something that GM will replace under warranty.

Apex Motorsports 12-20-2012 01:26 PM

More relevant reading:

Everything you need to know about our V8 CAI from Cold Air Inductions Inc.

Cold Air Intake Independent Testing Results by Jannetty Racing



CAI System Design Consideration Primer

J-Rod6410 12-20-2012 01:29 PM

I would agree on posting this thread can manage to convince the mods to delete the other 2,567,459,123 threads on here for CAI:sm0:

Sales @ CAI Inc 12-20-2012 01:33 PM

You stole my idea from the other thread, well, kind of at least :sm0:

Plug this into your reserved #1

IndeedSS1 12-20-2012 03:17 PM

And a great read on intake design from a very sharp guy.

Apex Motorsports 12-20-2012 03:37 PM


Originally Posted by J-Rod6410 (Post 5939431)
I would agree on posting this thread can manage to convince the mods to delete the other 2,567,459,123 threads on here for CAI:sm0:

I figured we would put as much good info concerning air intakes in one place as possible. How it gets used is up to you guys.


Originally Posted by Sales @ CAI Inc (Post 5939447)
You stole my idea from the other thread, well, kind of at least :sm0:

Plug this into your reserved #1



Originally Posted by IndeedSS1 (Post 5939838)
And a great read on intake design from a very sharp guy.

Added as well.

Bo White 12-20-2012 04:04 PM

Exactly, over-oiling your filter causes MAF problems. Hell, even K&N over-oils them on purpose since most filters stay on the shelf and evaproation is expected.

Dznts 12-20-2012 04:33 PM

great thread! nice write up Chase!

SPCBA 12-20-2012 05:42 PM

Sticky this please! Great write up and its great that you added Mr jannetty's testing. For the love of baby Jesus sticky this please.

Denis 12-20-2012 06:11 PM

Very nice.

litle88 12-20-2012 07:05 PM


Originally Posted by J-Rod6410 (Post 5939431)
I would agree on posting this thread can manage to convince the mods to delete the other 2,567,459,123 threads on here for CAI:sm0:

Lmao, you can make this the BIGGEST sticky and you'll get another 2,567,12...4! Threads started by next June!! Lol

And 2,567,125 threads for The best long tubes AND...."Will adding longtubes void my warranty" or "will I get a cel light after Lt's" lol

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