Air intake systems are an integral part of any automobile; they are the components that determine the power of the engine. Air is vital for any kind of combustion. Air intake systems suck in air from the outside and supply it to the engine, which, in turn, mixes it with fuel to generate energy. If the intake of air is inadequate, the fuel may not fully burn, leading to low engine output. However, excessive intake of air burns up the fuel rapidly increasing the fuel consumption rate. Both these conditions result in greater running costs in the short run and damage to the engine in the long run.
Air intake systems can be broadly divided into two categories—cold air intake systems and warm air intake systems. Each of these systems has its own set of pros and cons and is designed to perform in different kind of environments. Most vehicle manufacturers install systems that are best suited for the car; however, if you wish to enhance the power and fuel efficiency of your engine, you can always buy these systems.
Cold Air Intake Systems
In cold air intake systems, cold air is directly sucked from the atmosphere into the system. The logic underlying this system is that cold air is denser than warm air; hence, it carries a larger amount of oxygen. This increases the efficiency of the internal combustion process. However, since in this system, cold air is directly sucked into the engine, there is always a risk of getting water sucked into the engine as well; this condition is commonly referred to as Hydro lock. If you like riding at a high speed, cold air intake systems are ideal for you; nevertheless, the fuel efficiency of such systems is relatively less.
Cold air intake systems are fabricated from metals, silicone, fiberglass, Kevlar, or carbon fiber. Since the engine runs at a cooler temperature with these systems, the engine life is extended. They are comparatively easy to install, and the installation can be done without professional help. Cold air intake systems are stylish and more colorful compared to their counterparts.
Warm Air Intake Systems
In case of warm air intake systems, warm air (which is less dense than cold air) surrounding the engine bay is directly sucked into the engine. As the concentration of oxygen in such air is less, the engine control unit of the vehicle compensates this loss by opening the throttle wider, thereby sucking in more air. This, in turn, conserves some amount of energy that the engine might be spending to suck in air. Warm air intake systems also eliminate throttle losses, thereby further increasing fuel efficiency.
Warm air intake systems are also easy to install and can be purchased along with a DIY guide. Though these systems are designed to enhance the fuel economy of vehicles, they achieve this at the cost of top-end power. They are bulkier than cold air intake systems and are available in different shapes and sizes. Remember to consult your car manufacturer before installing a warm air intake system as it is not compatible with all engines.