The most ubiquitous mod performed on a street car (and make/model you might care to mention)
is a cold-air intake (CAI). The various manufacturers claim a 5-18HP (depending on the manufacturer)
increase at the rear wheels, and most of these don't require a tune. In all actuality, I don't
see how a CAI can add much more than a few HP, because all you're really doing is removing the
close box around the intake. Doing so also exposed your intake to warmer under-hood temperatures,
which may have an adverse affect on any perfomance gains you might realize. Granted, a CAI's HP
gains are really only realized while the car is in motion, and by defintiion, the engine
compartment temperature is lower as well, so also keep that in mind.
Another aspect of a CAI is the shape of the intake tube. It seems to me that a straight tube
(as opposed to one that curves twice like the OEM one) is going to give you better performance
because curves will slow the air down. However, I haven't seen anyone say anything about this,
so I could be completely wrong, but I have noticed that all of te straight-pipe CAIs claim higher
non-tune numbers than the bend pipe versions.
Airaid Poweraid Throttle Body Spacer
A lot of people claim that this is nothing more than snake oil. On the other hand, folks that
actually install them claim more low-end torque and throttle response. I figure $100 is cheap
enough to see what all the fuss is about. I got a $50 gift card for Amazon, so that's where I
got this. Otherwise, I would have just ordered it from American Muscle. While my actual cash
outlay was only $69, I still included the actual price of it in my running mods cost list at the
bottom of this page.
I haven't yet received my CAI, so I installed this on my otherwise (un-modded) stock engine.
Installation took about 30 minutes, but only because I spent 10 minutes trying to find my bag
of small black wire ties. The instructions provided with the spacer are clear and concise, and
I did't have any problem installing the spacer.
IMPORTANT NOTE - When you're tightening down the bolts after installing the spacer,
you should check the alignment of the spacer on the intake. The holes in the spacer are bigger
than the bolt, and a misalignment of the spacer will degradte your wide-open-thorttle performance.
I think I have a way around this, but I haven't tried it yet. Use aluminum tape (available from
your local hardware store), and wrap the tap around the bottom of the bolt shank just above the
threads. It might take a couple of wraps, but this should solve the alignment issue.
After installing the spacer, I went for a test drive, I definitely felt an increase in
throttle response and torque (butt dynos are wonderful things, and we don't have to pay money to
run test pulls - grin). Remember, this is on a stock motor with the OEM intake. Since my CAI is
"in the mail", I can't comment on what kind of an effect this spacer will have when a CAI is
installed, but my initial impression is that it certainly won't hurt.
Final Caveat - this spacer will NOT work with Airaid's own CAI, and while the instructions
for the spacer say as much, there is NO OTHER INDICATION of this fact other than on American
Muscle's web site. If you want to use this spacer with a CAI, you MUST purchase another brand
of CAI. This is the primary reason I went with a JLT instead of the Airaid unit.
JLT Cold Air Intake
There are at least a dozen CAI units available for the 3.7 V6 Mustang. I suspect that you'll
see Airaid more than anything else, but for those of us with the Airaid throttle body spacer, this
simply isn't an option. So, I chose the JLT (with the SCT tuner). It's got a straight pipe, so
fitment with the spacer shouldn't be an issue.
Installation doesn't require any special tools, other than the #20 Torx driver to remove the
MAF from the OEM intake tube, and generally speaking, installation is pretty simple. However, I
did run into a couple of issues.
- If you're running the Airraid throttle body spacer, the PVC connector tweaks the hose
fitting to which it connects. I'm going to remove the throttle body spacer this weekend.
According to a lot of people, the throttle body spacer is snake oil. In my case, it's
interfering with a more expensive part, so off it will come. Yes, I could remove some of
the tube material, but only at the throttle body end because the filter needs all the
tube possible in order to clamp onto the tube. I'm not really interested in modifying
the length of the air tube.
- The hole for the MAF sensor wasn't cut out all the way. In fact, I couldn't even get the
MAF into the hole because the cutout wasn't cut out enough even for that.
- After removing the material that JLT didn't see fit to remove, I couldn't get the MAF
to bolt up the way I remembered it coming off. I could have sworn it came out of the OEM
tube with the sivler side on top, but the mounting tabs simply would NOT line up properly
unless I mounted it black side up. After discussing the issue on a Mustang forum, I tried
turning it over, and of course, it didn't bolt up flush to the tub, but more importantly,
the car wouldn't even start, so I guess it's supposed to be black side up.
- The throttle body spacer makes the filter element itself a little tight but it does
(just barely) fit.
I want better performance, but I don't want to go with forced induction. There is at
least one option available - the Jenvey six throttle body intake for $1350. I initially
discovered this intake system from a source in the UK, but there is a source in the US:
Jenvey Intake at Performance Systems
This would require a dyno tune (an extra $400 minimum), and it might be a good idea
to keep a couple of extra throttle bodies "just in case". The price ($1350) is much
more attainable than from the source in the UK ($3500). I don't have one of these yet,
but it's on my list.
SCT Tuner/Bama Tunes
The tuner was pretty easy to use. I don't see how people have a problem, especially
with all the references available on the internet. There's even a video from American
Muscle that describes the process. In any case, I ordered the standard 87S/87P/93R
tune set, and installed the 87P tune after installing the JLT CAI. I had cause to drive
a couple hundred miles a couple of days later, and got 34MPG at 70mph in light traffic.
My previous best MPG was 30.8
I have experienced some idle wander in gear sitting at a light, and outright surging
after the car's been driven a while when I put it in park. I contacted Bama, and they
suggested going through both a KAM (keep-alive memory) rest, and an idle re-learn.
UPDATE (07/06/2014): After talking with the shop guys, especially regarding the fact
that dyno testing an automatic car will not allow a true 1-to-1 comparison after the
engine swap is complete, I've decided against running the car on the dyno with the V6