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Intake Mods

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.

Install

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.

Jenvey Intake

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 in it.


Dyno Pulls

Since I'm interested in how much power the car CAN put out, my post-mod pulls will feature the 93R tune from Bama. I will actually be running the 87P tune on a day-to-day basis, but I think I can afford to blow the money on a tank full of premium fuel for a couple of weeks to see how the mods have affected performance.

When I get the driveshaft and gears replaced, I'll take it to a dyno and see what's what.