Introduction: Add Horsepower and Save Gas With a Performance Filter System

Picture of Add Horsepower and Save Gas With a Performance Filter System

I'm going to tell you how to add horsepower and save gas with a Performance Filter System.

You never need to replace the air filter again!

This works with Fords, Lincolns, Mercurys, BMWs, Chevrolets, and most others.

Now the average added HP is 7-12 HP, but you may gain more or less depending on your car or truck.

If you want to do this on the cheap, I recommend Spectre Performance Parts.
( )

If you want to go all the way and pimp your car out, go with K&N parts.
( )

This is my first Instructable, so go easy. :)

I'm not responsible for any damage you do to your car or to yourself.

Step 1: Measure Your Intake

Most air intakes are 3" but they can range from 1"--6".

Use a ruler, or ask a professional what size your intake is.

Get parts in your intake size.

Step 2: Buy the Parts and Tools

Picture of Buy the Parts and Tools

Remember you're only adding 7-12 horsepower, so don't spend all your money.

Here's what you need:

-Multi intake size or direct size cotton media cone filter. (Don't get a steel media filter!!!!)

-Universal-MAF sensor housing, in your intake size, (If needed).

-Square to round-MAF sensor housing-adapter, (only needed with old BMWs).

-Phillips, flathead, and hex screwdrivers. ( You may need more or less tools depending on your vehicle.)

-Microfiber cloth

Step 3: Remove the Old Air Box, Intake, and MAF Sensor Housing

Picture of Remove the Old Air Box, Intake, and MAF Sensor Housing

This is harder than it sounds. DON'T RUSH YOURSELF!!!!!

--Start by removing your MAF sensor.
To do this, unplug the cable coming from the MAF.
Unscrew the 2-4 screws on the MAF, lift it out of its housing very carefully!!!!!!!
Then set it on the cloth with the sensor facing up, in a safe place.


--Next remove the MAF housing from the filter box and intake tube.
Do this by unscrewing the 4 screws, attaching the MAF housing to the filter box, then remove it.
Untighten the clamp on the intake tube and slide the tube off the MAF housing.


--Next remove the filter box.
Do this by taking the top off the filter box and lifting out the filter.
There should be some screws on the bottom and/or sides of the filter box,-remove them,
then remove the filter box.

YOU'RE DONE!!!!!!!!!

Step 4: Install the New MAF Sensor Housing

Picture of Install the New MAF Sensor Housing

Get the MAF sensor you set aside earlier. GENTLY -put the MAF sensor in the housing. Screw the screws back in.

Re-attach the cable to the MAF.

Next, attach the MAF sensor and housing to the intake tube, and tighten the clamp.

Step 5: Add the New Filter

Picture of Add the New Filter

Simply slide the filter on to the MAF sensor and tighten the clamp. If you bought one of the universal size filters, pull the size rings until you get the right one.

You may need to put an extension tube in between the MAF and the filter, if the filter does not fit where you want it to fit.

In the picture, there's a black tube in between the MAF and the filter, that's because I lost the rubber size ring that makes the filter fit my intake,( you won't need it ).

Step 6: Test This New Monster Out!!!

Picture of Test This New Monster Out!!!

Double check to make sure that everything is on tight.

Start your car.

If your car is running rough, something went wrong in installation, please go through the steps again or ask me what's wrong.

Please periodically check your filter to make sure its clean, a dirty filter will make you lose horsepower!

To clean your filter, buy a kit and follow the instructions.

Step 7: "Update" -My New Set Up!!!!!

Picture of "Update" -My New Set Up!!!!!

This is my new setup!!!

I've replaced the tubing and the filter with a K&N.;


JamesA187 (author)2016-05-25

More air, does burn more gas, however this isn't always good.. The power we are getting is the ecm getting a signal from the MAF (if equipped), and running a slightly leaner mixture, now, the air restriction is further down the line. The intake tubing is only so little of the system, the throttle body, then intake manifold, and last the head's valve ports are where it really matters. The small 5hp gains we see is the computer compensating and running lean because the airflow messes with the MAF, on the other hand however... A cold air intake+custom tune(to adjust for higher flow and maintain the proper AFR) will be most beneficial.

nate.hopkins.71 (author)2015-02-21

I know this is 5 years old. ScoutTrooper48 (BTW do you SWTOR?) I think you did a great job. Most of the comments here are from people getting mis info from their friends. Hansj3 hit it spot on. The only thing I wanted to mention was having the air filter connected right to the MAF sensor may not be the best set-up. Besides oil from the filter getting on the element inside the MAF (if you happen to add a little too much oil) which will deteriorate the element.. You want to try to reduce "Turbulent Air" coming into the MAF. You can do this by taking the diameter (in this case 3") and multiplying by 3. 3x3= 9. So you should have a straight piece of pipe/tubing after the air filter and before the MAF. In a perfect scenario you should have 9 inches before the MAF and after, but that may be unrealistic. This rule is true in ANY air or water metering device..

fyahya1 (author)2014-01-08

want a build it your self?

swimer4life116 (author)2009-07-27

right now, with the setup you have, you are probably getting worse gasmileage, and even worse hp. Hot air intakes DO NOT help your car.... by adding a filter, all you are adding is the sound of the intake sucking in more air. to truly improve gas milage and hp, you need to block the filter from hot air or even run it into the fenderwell.

otiman (author)swimer4life1162012-07-29

True, also you will want to insulate the whole intake system with a foam matress and shield it with ALU...

bowmaster (author)2011-07-29

This is cool, nicely done instructable. I would do this but I'm already planing to turbo my car.

-Syrus- (author)2011-03-24

I think you forgot one thing. Your car should have an EGR valve, which is a part that recirculates exhaust gasses to the intake, to make the car run "choked"
I hope for your sake that you covered this valve up, else you are killing your engine fast. Mainly because you are letting unfiltered gasses back into the engine.

harley_rly (author)2010-01-24

just putting a cold air system on it will only increase the air flow going into the motor, but if you take back pressure off your exhaust, your motor will run much better. Putting headers on and a high-flow catalytic converter would greatly increase your performance.

-Syrus- (author)harley_rly2011-03-24

The motor will have a better flow with a nice exhaust, but some car need this backpressure, the only thing that might improve your performance is a race designed, COMPLETE, so manifold to muffler system.
Just swapping one part, for more sound isn't going to help.

And the cat is usally taken out complete. Best mod to do on a stock system.

threecardmonty (author)2009-07-30

What type of vehicle did you do this on? Would this save gas in a pickup (GMC 4.6L 6cyl, 13-18mpg)? How much more mileage did you get? How long will it take for this pay for itself?

 Hellinabox is rite, if you increase the flow of air inwards you will need to increase the flow outwards as well.

If you don't you will still feel some difference, but not like 50HP.

As in gas mileage the way it works is gas needs oxygen to burn, putting more oxygen in will make it burn more gas.

More burnt gas  =  more power and less waisted gas.

The thing is some cars already have the maximum oxygen intake that they can handle.

Now with my Explorer it had a strange air intake and needed the upgrade.

Sorry for the long wait, and I hope this helps

Thank you

-Syrus- (author)Scout trooper482011-03-24

" The thing is some cars already have the maximum oxygen intake that they can handle."

The thing is, that most cars from '90's on come equipped with a ECU. This will detect increase in air and will readjust accordingly. Making your car run on a air richer mixture.

i have a chevy with the same size motor (97 s10) and i put the whole newk&n system on it.. i dont notice to much of a difference in themillage but it does improve the bottom end acceleration a bit.
also you cant put that setup on a throttle body injection motor it mustbe a port injection style

hellinabox (author)kasualkiller2010-02-21

 The gas mileage difference won't be that noticeable until you get an exhaust system. If you're going to do header(s) to tip(s) you'll notice a 5-10mpg increase (assuming you aren't flooring it) and anywhere from 20-50hp increase (depending on motor).

noneedto (author)2010-11-18

Just a tip!
(im just 16years old, but skilled at engines!)

a performance filter doesnt do that much... it will save gas+your engine lifetime, and it will give you some more horsepower......

so you wont have a race-monster after adding a performance filter.. >.<
but its always better then your standard airfilter!!

unfortunatly on a muscle car (old/ the ones with big engines) it doesnt do a thing.

but for =everything is a solution!!! =D

a supercharger...
it is actually the same as a turbo, but for the BIG american engines, it compresses the air before it goes into the cilinders.. witch will give you extreme HP+acceleration! then that performance filter wil work =D

and for the speedfreaks there is a turbo.(ment for the japanese/europian cars)
same effect with the powerfilter :)



-Syrus- (author)noneedto2011-03-24


You are quite mistaken, as with every engine, the fuel/air ratio is important.
Doesn't matter if turbo or supercharged or V- or L-shape.

So if the stock airfilter restricts the airflow, then a "power" filter can improve performance. More fuel + More Air = Equals more potential Energy, this translates to small increase in engine output.
And since most stock filters are designed for economy, this might work.
Doesn't matter if your ride is a riceburner like mine or a muscle. Thats just ignorant thinking. Bigger engine, easy HP increase.

And I should know, because I use to run intern on a Supercar League Corvette.
That car increased from 500 + to around 600 with ease and reliability, which is really important for endurance type.

thewalshmn (author)2010-03-18

I have a CAI (cold air Intake) on a TBI (throttle body injection) on my 1994 Chevy 4X4 the kit is made by airaid my engine is 5.7 (350cu in) bored and stroked to 383 cu in and extremly modfied for low end torque but my point is you acn get them for TBI motors now K&N has made a kit for years too

defiant1 (author)2010-03-05

If you can afford the intake tube and heat shield kit it helps 10 fold.

candle360 (author)2009-07-26

you should replace the entire intake tube to make power. this is just a good filter. nice insturctable though and if you do replace the entire tube, make an instructable on it too

I did replace the tubing, and the filter with a large K&N.; I also added a heat shield. The pic will be on the last step, I will add it soon. Next I plan to add a hood scoop above the filter. : ) I can add a video If you want.

well the heat shield is what's going to give you the power. with an open element, and nothing to block the heat it's actually going to kill performance

Hansj3 (author)2009-08-22

unfortunately swimer4life116 hot air will increase your fuel mileage. we have fuel injection now, and did back in 91, the mass air flow sensor will detect flow and the intake air temp sensor along with the maf sensor will allow the engine to adjust for density. now that is all well and good but it still doesn't make sense unless you under stand the ideal gas law, pV=nRT , in short, when temperature goes up, pressure goes up. and density goes down. the opposite is also true temps go down pressure goes down and density goes up. with less density comes less power, but from the placement of most stock filters and the amount of intake restriction that is removed will make up for that and then some. so yes a cold air intake will make more power but it wont net much on the mpg side. it Decreases the pumping efficiency of an internal combustion engine(having the throttle wide open is a good thing if you can meter the fuel back so your power does not exceed what is necessary to continue at your current rate of speed ) and that is exactly what a warm air intake helps to do. why do you think that you get better fuel mileage in the summer than the winter.

Scout trooper48 (author)2009-08-12

I've added pics of my new system, check them out!!! There on the last step.

unaffiliatedperson (author)2009-08-04

R U rockin a first gen explorer?

Yep 1991 XLT It's the best model in my opinion. it has 500,000 miles on it. LOL

oh kool. i have the same one 91 XLT. 2 wheel drive though. are you also on the serious explorations forum? im YBCold on there.

Mine is a 2 wheel drive also. I've added pics of my new system, check them out.

CrawdadMan (author)2009-07-30

If my car is a 1994 will it still have that crazy sensor set up. its pretty bare bones.

Scout trooper48 (author)2009-07-24

I Can't Believe my rating is so low, I thought I did a good job. :P

Improving the breathing is one of the easiest way to improve engine performance, but just changing the air-intake alone is not going to make more than a 2-4% improvement in output. And, the air-filter's job is to remove the dust and dirt particles from the air before it goes inside your engine - sooner or later you WILL need to change it.

In 1,000,000 miles yes you will have to. So my rating is low because this is easy to do?

catdaddy137 (author)2009-07-24

about skepticism and what manufactures do.....when you add this type filter to your vehicle it may (and probably will make it louder) , so , this is 1 reason the mftrs' would not do it....anouther reason is it may change your emissions , but more likely improve most definatly can and will improve performance and is mostly because it makes the vehicle a little louder.

Well that depends, my Explorer and BMW E30 didn't get louder at all. But my uncle's Dodge Ram sound like a semi truck.

that's cool , i hope :) biggest point is that just because it is made by an auto manufacurer that does not mean that their ingineers are super smarter than you and i....they have to meet all kinds of guidelines and government , and epa restrictions , and also sell cars....remeber the is only 1 example of a failure.....after market cold air intakes have been proven on many , many dynos...they are just way over priced.....i removed a fuzzy colapsable oem cold air intake tube from my vehicle and gained was restrictive.....mine only got a little louder , but it sounds good to me....i plan to make my own cold air intake...spektre doesn't have a fitting for my maf.

carlos66ba (author)2009-07-24

I am quite skeptical... If it were as simple as adding a filter (costing what? a very tiny fraction of what a car costs) and you'd get more power and better fuel economy... don't you think that the manufacturers would have already done it?

First it's to hard for the consumer to clean it, and most auto shops don't know how. Second it may make your car louder.

ac1D (author)2009-07-24

Nice warning about the thin wire. A friend of me cut one by accident lol

Scout trooper48 (author)ac1D2009-07-24

That sucks

beerboyone (author)2009-07-24

This is not a ram air system. It's not even a cold air system. it's just a performace filter. For it to be Ram air you need a scoop that catches air and "rams" it into the intake. For it to be cold air you need to have the filter shielded from the hot temperatures of the engine bay.

sorry :P I will edit

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Bio: Well i hope to take over the world some day. I own a computer business. And I race and modify a 1987 BMW E30, 1974 ... More »
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