May 9, 2008, Newsletter Issue #114: The inside scoop on intakes

Tip of the Week

Your car's air intake system begins, naturally, with air. The first thing air runs into is a tube that will route cold air from behind the grille or inside the fender well into the engine. Not all cars have this tube, though. Some draw in hot air from under the hood. (Not cool.) Once inside, the air breezes into the air box or air cleaner. On fuel-injected cars it is a box that is shaped, well, like a box. On your carbureted cars, air cleaners look like big film canisters or an early UFO. Both have an air filter that will catch incoming dirt, insects, and any other contaminants the air might be bringing in with it. (Sort of like human nose hairs, only different.) After the air has checked through customs, so to speak, at the filter, the air, now free of contaminants and contraband, heads for the carburetor or, on fuel injected cars, the throttle body. Both contain a butterfly valve which controls the amount of air allowed into the engine. It is here that fuel, in most cases, is added to the mix to create the explosions that keep America's wheels turning.

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