Take a look at your calendar. Can you slice out half an hour in the garage? Great. You can add 10-15 horsepower to your car with an AFE cold air intake. But how does it work? What’s that key seasoning that makes the AFE intake so efficient?
In truth, it’s several factors. The heat shield works extra hard to seal the hot air filling your engine bay away from the protected cool air flowing into the intake. Yes, in case you were wondering, that’s why they call it a cold air intake. The colder the air heading into your engine, the denser it is, and the more efficient its reaction. Hot air pollutes the process, which is why AFE spends so much time and effort on these heat shields. If there’s wiring or tubing that needs to run through the shield, the ports are sealed with grommets.
The intake tube itself is no slouch, either. It’s rotomolded of lightweight composite to allow for maximum flow. That may sound like a big PR sandwich, so here’s something cool (no pun intended): AFE designs and engineers their intakes both digitally and physically in tandem. They don’t just design something on the computer, prototype it, and call it a day. They build a physical copy for every step of the computer designing process. So they can make precise adjustments as needed.
But the cone filter probably does the most work. This is AFE’s secret weapon. They probably store them in a mysterious bunker in Nevada. You probably need a retinal scan to get in. AFE engineers their cone filters in three main varieties.
The Pro-Dry S could be considered their introductory filter, depending on your preferences. It’s a dry filter, which means it’s not oiled. But that doesn’t mean it’s made of paper like those cheap parts store filters. The Pro-Dry S uses two layers of synthetic fabric, and the inner has a tighter weave than the outer. So it catches all the junk but barely inhibits flow. In fact, the average Pro-Dry S features twice the CFM (cubic feet per minute) as its factory counterpart.
The glory of that synthetic filter is that it’s still washable, a quality you generally don’t run into with non-oiled filters. If you need a quick clean, you can take the filter off and tap it for an 86% restoration. It’s a great fix for those unexpected dusty trips. Or you can vacuum out the pleats for 92% restoration. There’s no oil there to get things sticky. But for the full fresh, dunk and wash it with simple soap and water, then let it dry. The Pro-Dry S is generally grey in color.
In contrast, the Pro 5R is an oiled filter, which means it packs a layer of oil that helps catch particles without sacrificing flow. You know what else helps capture particles? Five layers of medical-grade cotton gauze. They get progressively finer as the air travels through the filter, which increases flow to the tune of around 40% more CFM.
To recharge it, you simply spray on some cleaning solution, rinse it out, and add more oil. It’s a lifetime part. The Pro 5R is a blue filter.
Finally, the Pro-Guard 7 has been engineered for intense dust applications like desert racing. The pleats are 30% deeper than other filters. In case you’re following along, yes, the “7” means seven layers of cotton gauze. Nobody else on the planet offers seven layers. The 7 is also an oiled filter, the oil lending the hardcore filter its extra protection for the dusty days. Instead of a basic screen, the 7 also has an expanded metal mesh for extra strength in rugged environments.
So yes, cold air intakes are awesome. Just don’t forget the lowly filter at the end. Check out all of our flow-ready AFE intakes and filters.
Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.