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The air intake of an engine allows the engine to breathe and consists of 3 parts: the air filter, some air sensors and the tube itself which brings air through the filter, by the sensors and into the engine.
Further engine power and performance gains can be made by optimizing the route the air takes to get to the engine. Factors which can be optimized here are the smoothness of the path, the width of the tube and where the air is coming from. A smoother path will make for easier breathing for the engine, and a wider tube will be able to carry more air to the engine and thereby increase combustion in the engine. Where (which part of the engine compartment) the air comes from will determine its temperature, as cold air is denser and burns better. These types of modifications are often combined into what is called a "cold air intake" and usually come with a performance air filter. These units can be pricey, but sensible engine power and performance gains can come from them as long as the engine and various air sensors can cope with the higher volumes and flow rates of air sent to them.
Last update: January 17 2011
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