Do Air Intake Systems Save Gas Mileage

Do air intake systems save gas mileage? To efficiently power your car, your engine needs the proper mixture of fuel and air. Makers of air intake systems claim to increase power and fuel efficiency by altering the flow of air into your engine.

Do Air Intake Systems Save Gas Mileage For Real?
The standard air intake system on most cars is designed around a disposable paper filter that is contained in an air box connected to the engine by an intake tube. The air flowing through this system supports the combustion of fuel to produce energy in your engine. Several manufacturers have developed alternative air intake systems that claim to increase horsepower and automobile gas mileage. But do they? The following information may help you decide:

  • The theory. The idea behind alternative air intake systems (sometimes called cold air intakes) it that these products provide a higher volume of cooler air to the engine. This cooler air, pulled from a location away from the engine compartment, is supposed to have a higher concentration of oxygen. In theory, the extra oxygen in a cold air intake provides for greater combustion power and efficiency.
  • The practice. To make a cold air intake system work, manufacturers combine a high flow rate air filter with a larger intake tube. These units may or may not use an air box, but the air intake is typically located away from the engine compartment in a location like the upper front wheel well.
  • But does it work? In an older car, a cold air intake system may improve airflow and thus power and efficiency. In newer cars, however, sophisticated engine control modules constantly monitor the airflow through the engine and adjust the fuel/air mixture to an optimum ratio. In these types of cars, little-if any-increases of power or efficiency will be achieved.
  • Alternatives. Although an alternative air intake system may not increase your gas mileage, other options may have the desired effect. Switching from a paper filter to a high volume, performance air filter that uses cotton gauze instead of paper. Also, replacing your exhaust system with a larger piping or dual exhaust system will increase the overall airflow through your engine. Either of these alternatives will increase engine power and efficiency.
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