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Choosing a performance throttle body spacer

In today’s economic climate, many car owners are looking for ways to get maximum performance and economy from our expensive purchases. Thankfully, there are a number of items in the wide-ranging automotive aftermarket that can move any type of car away from factory-standard compromises and into the arena of greater power and better economy.

“When designing a car for street driving, automotive engineers have to compromise between power and economy,” says Chris Grosso of PartsGeek LLC. “A primary consideration in auto engine design is getting the fuel to thoroughly mix with the outside air as it travels through the air intake system. This requires two basic conditions to be met: (1) minimum restriction of airflow, and (2) maximum turbulence in the intake air.”

Condition number one: minimum restriction of airflow

One company that has been very successful in developing aftermarket devices that really work is Airaid. (“That’s Airaid as in air aid,” says Grosso, “not air raid.”) They’ve been using computer-aided design and modern materials technology to improve light truck and SUV power and economy since 1997.

The typical factory-installed air filter tends to have a choking effect, restricting the airflow into the engine. This can drastically cut down both economy and power in cars of mid-range size and larger. To correct this problem, Airaid has designed a unique Premium aftermarket air filter, available for many makes and models, that keeps out grit and dust particles that could quickly destroy an engine, while at the same time presenting an absolute minimum of restriction to the initial inflow of air. By the way, this is not a throw-away item that has to be replaced at regular intervals. It is a permanent washable filter built to last.

To help keep your Premium filter in top condition, Airaid also offers a filter tune up kit. It includes a special cleaner that doesn’t damage the filter body, and a spray-on oil conditioner to enhance filter performance.

Condition number two: maximum turbulence in the intake air

Another effective aftermarket device offered by Airaid is a component known as a throttle body spacer. It’s the kind of simple yet effective gizmo that will have you saying, “Now, why didn’t I think of that?”

The Airaid throttle body spacer is a metal plate that goes between the throttle body and the air intake manifold. On the inner wall of the central opening, there are grooves designed to change the incoming airflow from a relatively straight stream into a rotating swirl, something like a miniature tornado. Now the airflow has to travel further in the same time interval, meaning that the air velocity must increase. This results in the air molecules colliding with the gasoline molecules with greater force, resulting in more effective atomization into smaller particles which present a larger overall surface area. This allows more liquid fuel to be vaporized, giving a more complete burn in the cylinders.

The increased power should be immediately noticeable, with increased torque and potentially better gas mileage. It comes complete with all necessary brackets and associated parts and is easy to install, using ordinary hand tools without cutting or drilling. Constructed with top-quality materials, the Airaid throttle body spacer represents a potentially sound investment in aftermarket performance enhancement.

Other manufacturers worth considering are K&N, who recognize the importance of getting as much air as possible into the engine by using performance-enhancing intake systems. They have computer-aided designs that will do just that.

If you own a larger truck, with an engine greater than five liters, take a look at Helix. Their Power Tower is also designed to introduce controlled turbulence in the intake manifold. They claim increased fuel mileage of up to four miles per gallon as well as a power increase of up to 22 horsepower, a considerable achievement for large, thirsty engines.

Diesel owners may want to become acquainted with AEM and their intake systems, called Brute Force. They claim that through dynamometer testing, they can ensure their system produces more torque and horsepower for larger engines than any other manufacturer and that they won’t release a system until dyno testing proves it. Their intake pipes are specifically tuned to take advantage of resonance properties, which are proven to help get more air into the cylinders. Another well-known aspect affecting the efficiency of internal combustion engines is that cooler air is more dense than hot, so with this in mind, AEM engineers design the air intake to be situated in the coolest location under the hood.