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post #1 of 143 Old 02-03-2004, 08:58 PM Thread Starter
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The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

I know that we all see the same questions over and over concerning CAI's and SRI's. So I will do my best to explain the difference (in laymans terms) between a CAI and an SRI, as well as the difference between different brand CAI's. This is going to be a VERY simplistic explanation, so veterans steer clear...

We are dealing with internal combustion engines. This means that air is mixed with fuel, ignited, causing combustion (duh). There are a few factors that play into how well (or poorly) that combustion is executed. Number one, the more air the engine has access to in order to mix with fuel, the more energy can be produced. This is also the basic logic behind turbo- and superchargers, but I'll leave that to the REAL tuners on this board (i.e. - not me). But back to the subject. An engine needs oxygen to combust with fuel, which creates the power to turn the wheels. The two main factors at play here are:

1) Volume of air (O2). More air to combust, more power.

2) Temperature of air (O2) Colder air is DENSER (i.e. - more O2 (oxygen) per cubic inch of air) than HOT air, and therefore the engine has even MORE oxygen to combust.


MOST stock intake systems are constructed of a thick plastic, have many bends and turns, use HIGHLY restrictive filters, and pull air from inside the HOT engine bay. Look at your stock Tiburon intake...HORRIBLE. But, Hyundai did this is for two reasons:

1) To keep the engine quieter, as most drivers (not tuners like us ) prefer a quiet ride. CAI's and SRI's make MUCH more noise than stock, as the air is being taken in MUCH faster, and is resonating off of METAL piping. Loud.

2) To keep the engine flood safe (if the vehicle is submerged, it will continue to run). CAI's suck from near the curb. If you run into a deep puddle, your engine will hydrolock and sieze. Not good. Some may talk of "bypass valves", but I really question thier integrity (experiments have shown that, in some circumstances, water can reach the engine bay anyway.)

But these minor pluses come at the expense of a MAJOR minus: POWER. In a perfect situation, our engines would have unlimited access to a LARGE volume of COLD air. This is impossible, but alternative intake systems offer better solutions....

SO...

An SRI (Short Ram Intake) is simply a short piece of metal (or plastic) that comes off the Throttle Body (that piece with the little flap that opens and shuts when you accelerate, i.e. - the "butterfly") and sucks air directly into the intake manifold. This is a BIG improvement over the stock system, as it...

1) eliminates all of the bends and turns of the stock intake, allowing for a greater, unrestricted VOLUME of air (O2) to enter the intake manifold.

2) is also relatively inexpensive and EASY to install. $80 and you're done in most circumstances.


It looks like this:



NOW....

A CAI (Cold Air Intake) is based on the same premise, but takes it one step further. A CAI is a LONGER piece (or more than one piece) of stainless steel piping that extends from the Intake Manifold (IM) all the way down to a point FAR AWAY from the heat producing engine. This is usually a spot near the curb, infront of the wheels. When your car is traveling at 60 MPH, and the outside temperature is 70 degrees, the temperature of the air hitting your engine will be SIGNIFICANTLY colder than the air inside your HOT engine bay (where your stock intake used to pull air from).

It looks like this:



See how the pipe "disappears" near a spot infront of the front wheel That's where it's pulling its air from; near the street, infront of the wheel, where the air is RUSHING past the air filter.

Pro's and Con's to SRI and CAI...

EITHER system will be an improvement over stock. It all depends on what you're looking for, and what your budget is. A good SRI will run about $80. You will see about 1/3 of the horsepower gains of a CAI, but that 1/3 will be available to you LOW in the RPM band (around 3K RPM). This is because the air doesn't have to travel very far to reach the intake manifold. When you mash the gas pedal, you will see more power. But this power is COMPROMISED as the engine heats up, because the hot air that the SRI is pulling will be progressively LESS DENSE, because the air around the engine will be hotter the longer the engine runs. This is not good for continuous power.

A CAI is more expensive, around $220, depending on brand. This will yield MUCH more horsepower than an SRI, because the engine is getting COLDER (read DENSER) air and MORE of it). But the air has to travel a farther distance and takes longer to reach the engine. This power is available to you at 5K to 6K RPM). If you are racing, you should be spending most of your race time in the high RPM's anyway. This is why you want a CAI.

DOWN TO THE NITTY GRITTY.

All CAI's are basically the SAME. It is a STAINLESS STEEL pipe with SILICON or RUBBER connectors, that connects your intake manifold to a position infront of your front driver side wheel, where it pulls the air that the engine needs to make power.

1) They all produce about the same horsepower gain (~12-15 WHP, depending on your car and the ambient temperature). Some companies claim more HP than others; this is BUNK. Different test cars, different dynos, different claims, different air temperature conditions. ONE CAI IS NOT SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER THAN THE OTHER.

2) They make slightly different noises when you open the throttle, depending on how the pipe is bent. On each different CAI, the air resonates off the metal piping slightly differently, producing a different sound. But the physics are the same.


So what's the difference SOUND AND STYLE. Some like red pipes, some like chrome, some like blue. You may pay more for one color over the other. INJEN makes a different sound than AEM, which makes a different sound than COMPANY X. You pick what you like; you may think it's worth paying extra for one sound over another. Someone else may not think so. If you are going for a "show" engine bay, you may want the fancy powder-coated piping. There are some AWESOME looking intakes out there, and there are some very plain chrome looking ones. They both achieve the same goal.

How do you install one Well, our VERY informative newtiburon.com DIY section has a detailed explanation, in the old forum, HERE: http://www.newtiburon.com/index.php?page=diy-aem

I hope this helps clear up the SRI vs. CAI issue, as well as the "is Brand X CAI better than Brand Y"...any other questions, feel free to ask em...that's why the forums here!

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post #2 of 143 Old 02-03-2004, 09:44 PM
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good read!!!! i dont plan on getting a sri or cai. im just gonna remove the intake resonator and then get a good k&n drop in filter. then maybe fabricate some sort of large tubing that will replace the resonator and feed into the air box. that way ill spend less and eliminate the heat build up. yeah, im not really into modding the car too much. performance wise anyways.
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post #3 of 143 Old 02-04-2004, 09:56 PM
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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

What I don't understand is...you mentioned that the stock resonator is pulling hot air from the engine bay, but what about the snorkel that goes out in front of the wheel well? Is that not functioning to pull in the same cold air that a CAI would pull in? If so, how are you going to get 12-15 whp from simply making it a straight shot to the same cold air that the stock resonator box is receiving?
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post #4 of 143 Old 02-05-2004, 07:44 AM Thread Starter
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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

The stock "resonator"'s only function is to quiet the air being pulled into the IM; if you follow the snorkel path, it starts in the engine bay, runs infront of the battery, down to the resonator, then up to the filterbox, through the MAF, and finally up to the engine. There's no air cooling going on there...

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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

good read......very good info for the n3wbs!
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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Malik112099
good read......very good info for the n3wbs!
thanks!

That's why I made that disclaimer at the beginning...cuz we all know how it felt when we asked a "dumb" question when we were new to tuning, and having a bunch of elitists jump on you and start flaming...which is another reason the Newbie Forum is a GREAT idea. Hell, I even pull some good knowledge out of this forum every now and again!!

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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

Ok, I have what probably will be a dumb question, but I'm considering getting the Injen CAI and I was just wondering if my car will past the dumb emissions testing that PA just put into place that I will have to have done. I heard that the intakes come certified that they will pass or something, but I just want to make sure before I get one. Thanks for any help.

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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

You will pass emissions...

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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

cleared up some stuff or me...

If all CAI are more or less the same why are the no-name brands on ebay being sold for half the price of an injen, I can't help but think you get what you pay for when all name brands offer for about the same price and the ebay intake is half of that

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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by `sl!m2k4T!b
cleared up some stuff or me...

If all CAI are more or less the same why are the no-name brands on ebay being sold for half the price of an injen, I can't help but think you get what you pay for when all name brands offer for about the same price and the ebay intake is half of that

:\
In a certain sense, in this case, yes, you are paying for a name. If you do go with a no-name brand, make sure that the connecting pieces are made out of SILICONE and not rubber (as the initial post says, it could be either; rubber is cheaper). Silicone handles high heat better than rubber. Secondly, make sure the pipes actually fit, and that they are a full 3 inches of MANDREL BENT diameter.

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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bass_Droppa
You will pass emissions...
Ok, thanks for the help.

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post #12 of 143 Old 02-13-2004, 12:55 AM
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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by J-Fizzle
What I don't understand is...you mentioned that the stock resonator is pulling hot air from the engine bay, but what about the snorkel that goes out in front of the wheel well? Is that not functioning to pull in the same cold air that a CAI would pull in? If so, how are you going to get 12-15 whp from simply making it a straight shot to the same cold air that the stock resonator box is receiving?
If you look at the resonator box after you take it out, you'll begin to understand. Little opening leading to a large open space (the resonator itself), then constricting down again to get to the air filter (which is another open void). This whole route is restrictive for the airflow and slows it down. The air is "loitering" and picks up the heat from the engine bay (and since the resonator is right next to the radiator...... you get the idea).

A CAI straightens it all out and keeps the airflow path diameter uniform. Less kinks, bends and restrictions. The air is moving fast enough it doesn't get a chance to absorb any of the ambient heat in the engine compartment. Even after the engine heats up, a CAI can still be pulling cold air. When I put my eBay CAI on my Tib and drove from Vegas to Cali a few days later, I checked it when I did a pit stop for gas. The intake tubing was ice cold, even though the engine had been running 80-90mph for about 3hrs. A SRI would have been pulling air from through the radiator (which is a heat-exchange system and would warm the air up).

* * * * * * * * * *

In another thread, Fray Adjacent described it pretty good. Go get a small straw (like a coffee stirrer) and try to breathe through it. Ain't happening. Now go get a bigger straw (like from a frappuccino from Starbuck's) and give it a try. You'll notice the difference. The only improvement I can make on that particular example is to tell you to take the small straw and twist it all up (like those loopy little drink straws kids get sometimes).

* * * * * * * * * *

As for quality of CAIs, "you get what you pay for" is dead on. I've heard people say that a particular CAI off eBay has visible welds and is low quality. I got a different brand CAI off eBay (as did many other NT.com members) and I'm satisfied with the quality and performance. I just added a K&N filter on my own. Other "name-brand" intakes make claims to be pending CARB exemptions (ie- emissions). Those are the companies that do the R&D and provide dyno proof of the hp/torque gains. In my opinion, you're not paying extra for the CAI itself, you're paying for the customer service.

* * * * * * * * * *

Bass_Droppa hit it dead on. All CAIs are essentially alike. There may be slight variances in materials (aluminum vs stainless steel), but that depends on the manufacturer.

I had a CAI on my '00 Tib made from 2-3/4" aluminized exhaust tubing purchased from JC Whitney. Others had luck with the flexible exhaust tubing and header wrap (for heat resistance). My current Tib ('03) is running a CAI I bought off eBay (cheap, decent quality, I don't need to see dyno numbers because I know there will be an improvement).

The one significant thing they all have in common is getting rid of the restrictions and increasing the amount of airflow going to the engine.
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post #13 of 143 Old 02-15-2004, 04:09 PM
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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

okay, i have an AEM CAI and I've had it for about 6 months now. One thing about CAI that I still have debate about is its effect on gas milage. A lot of people on this board believe that CAI saves fuel due to better gas/O2 mix. But can you think of it the other way? the more oxygen there is, more fuel that burns hence lower mpg.
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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by GSilveR
okay, i have an AEM CAI and I've had it for about 6 months now. One thing about CAI that I still have debate about is its effect on gas milage. A lot of people on this board believe that CAI saves fuel due to better gas/O2 mix. But can you think of it the other way? the more oxygen there is, more fuel that burns hence lower mpg.
I don't think that it's because of more air, your engine will burn more of it. The engines not like humans, where if we receive more food, we'll usually end up eating more of it. The oxygens there so that it will burn fuel more efficiently so that you get better gas mileage. The reason why you're having worst gas mileage is because you love your CAI so much that you're putting the pedal to the metal all the time hehe. Another thing you might want to do is get the K&N replacement filter (part # 33-2201) that should give you a slight MPG gain and slight HP gain. I dunno, I'm still learning about all of this so I could be wrong but I'm trying to think out logic and what other people said on different threads. Either way, nice thread.

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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChosunTiburon
I don't think that it's because of more air, your engine will burn more of it. The engines not like humans, where if we receive more food, we'll usually end up eating more of it. The oxygens there so that it will burn fuel more efficiently so that you get better gas mileage. The reason why you're having worst gas mileage is because you love your CAI so much that you're putting the pedal to the metal all the time hehe.
true true...

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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChosunTiburon
I don't think that it's because of more air, your engine will burn more of it. The engines not like humans, where if we receive more food, we'll usually end up eating more of it. The oxygens there so that it will burn fuel more efficiently so that you get better gas mileage. The reason why you're having worst gas mileage is because you love your CAI so much that you're putting the pedal to the metal all the time hehe. Another thing you might want to do is get the K&N replacement filter (part # 33-2201) that should give you a slight MPG gain and slight HP gain. I dunno, I'm still learning about all of this so I could be wrong but I'm trying to think out logic and what other people said on different threads. Either way, nice thread.
thanx for the pointers chosun, but AEM filters = K and N filters. K and N filters make AEM filters...
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post #17 of 143 Old 02-15-2004, 09:59 PM
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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by GSilveR
thanx for the pointers chosun, but AEM filters = K and N filters. K and N filters make AEM filters...
No no, if you're thinking I'm telling you to replace the cone filter that comes with the AEM CAI, I'm not. I'm talking about replacing the panel filter in your filter box. Part number 33-2201. There was a thread on it in the old forum. Either way, I never knew about that. Nice to know, thanks.

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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChosunTiburon
No no, if you're thinking I'm telling you to replace the cone filter that comes with the AEM CAI, I'm not. I'm talking about replacing the panel filter in your filter box. Part number 33-2201. There was a thread on it in the old forum. Either way, I never knew about that. Nice to know, thanks.
cool, but I tried to find a pic of it on K&N website, thy don't have it there
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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by GSilveR
cool, but I tried to find a pic of it on K&N website, thy don't have it there
be wary of K&N....you have to OIL that filter to keep it clean, which is also what makes it not necessary to replace...BUT ....that oil can (and in alot of cases DOES) get sucked up your CAI pipe, and coats your Mass Airflow Sensor ("MAS", the sensor that tells your car how much air your taking in) with goo, so you'll get a Check Engine Light (CEL). This doesn't ALWAYS happen, but many members on the board have warned of this...

K&N is a good filter, but I think they may be a bit over-rated.

stay with a RActive or standard 3" cone filter. I've had a RActive for the past 6 months, and it's still clean as a whistle...$30 total cost.

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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bass_Droppa
be wary of K&N....you have to OIL that filter to keep it clean, which is also what makes it not necessary to replace...BUT ....that oil can (and in alot of cases DOES) get sucked up your CAI pipe, and coats your Mass Airflow Sensor ("MAS", the sensor that tells your car how much air your taking in) with goo, so you'll get a Check Engine Light (CEL). This doesn't ALWAYS happen, but many members on the board have warned of this...

K&N is a good filter, but I think they may be a bit over-rated.

stay with a RActive or standard 3" cone filter. I've had a RActive for the past 6 months, and it's still clean as a whistle...$30 total cost.
If the filter oil craps up the sensor, just disassemble the cai and clean the sensor with nonlubricating electrical contact cleaner. Had rouble at first and was getting CEL. Cleaned the sensor and no problems since then.

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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverGt
If the filter oil craps up the sensor, just disassemble the cai and clean the sensor with nonlubricating electrical contact cleaner. Had rouble at first and was getting CEL. Cleaned the sensor and no problems since then.
absolutely right; but I'm far too lazy to be dis-assembling my intake unnecessarily...

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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

Well, you just have to be careful when re oiling the K&N filter. If you SOAK it, you'll have the problem you described. If you do it right, you shouldn't have any problems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bass_Droppa
absolutely right; but I'm far too lazy to be dis-assembling my intake unnecessarily...


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My cars are PORSCHEs

2001 Porsche Boxster
1969 911T Targa - "Stinky"

Fray: a usually disorderly or protracted fight, struggle, or dispute
Adjacent: not distant, immediately preceding or following
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post #23 of 143 Old 03-11-2004, 12:04 AM
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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

okay so here's another stupid question. i'm deciding on getting a SRI mainly because i don't race as much but i do want that extra hp without the hassle of installing a CAI. my new job requires me to drive on freeways nearly all day, do you guys think i'm making the right decision by getting a SRI?
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post #24 of 143 Old 03-11-2004, 12:30 AM
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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

and if i may add. where can i purchase a SRI, for a reasonable price. can someone post a link or something? thanks.
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post #25 of 143 Old 03-11-2004, 01:15 AM
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Re: The Definitive CAI Explanation Thread

Hi,

Another stupid question...Are there other ways to make sure water doesnt get in..I know the bpv but is there anything else that could help?

Thanks,
Dan
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