Hot Rod RV Intake: AFE Stage II

Installing an AFE Stage II Intake for Power and Performance

In this installment of our Hot Rod RV project, we’ll be taking the same first step as many other diesel truck owners do: installing a performance intake on our ’97 Dodge Ram 2500. Especially in older vehicles, like our Dodge, the intake tract is only designed for a certain level of horsepower and flow. As larger turbos are added, the intake actually becomes a restriction, as the turbocharger tries to suck air through a filter that can’t keep up with its volume draw. Even on stock trucks that have had the waste gate disabled, we’ve seen the filter minder sucked down flat, as the factory air box becomes a restriction.

-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-

AFE Stage II
To address this problem before we ran into it, we installed an AFE Stage II intake kit, one of the higher flowing versions on the market. With a huge airbox (air intake chamber) and equally impressive conical filter, the AFE would be able to hang with any turbo that we’d install on the truck, especially since we’d be keeping our compressors rather small and focused on response.
In addition to the future flow benefits, the factory air silencer is also removed, creating a cool turbo whistle. During previous long-term testing, we’ve also seen mileage gains of about 1 mpg, although we haven’t put enough miles on our RV Ram to back-up or disprove this claim, yet. Intake and exhaust systems can be thought of as paving the way for future performance modifications. So without further ado, we’ll show you how to replace the stock airbox with a performance model from Advanced Flow Engineering. DW

2 Our factory airbox, although functional, wasn’t much to look at and had seen plenty of miles. The previous owner had used the space between the intake and battery box for storage, and below the white rag in the picture, we found a pair of vice grips, three more rags, and a spare coolant hose.

3 The filter minder on our stock intake didn’t show any signs of being sucked down, so at the boost we were at, our current intake was probably doing an OK job.

4 To show just how easy an intake install can be, we’re going to use a single multi-use screwdriver for the majority of the job and not even a good one, either.

5 The first step to removing the intake is to loosen the clamp on the turbocharger. We were careful not to knock any debris into the inlet of the turbo when performing this step.

6 The factory clamps have holes and ridges incorporated into them so that the factory airbox will stay on, even if the clamps become loose.

7 After the clamps are removed, the factory flex-fit hose can be removed.

8 Our turbo looked well used, so we took a moment to check for play in the shaft. Side-to-side movement is OK, but back-and-forth is not. As far as we could tell, our turbo would be in good shape for many miles to come.

9 Before removing the stock airbox, it’s always good to pop the lid and check the condition of the filter. Remember the clips in back by the firewall.

10 We had our first surprise when we took the filter lid off: This drop-in aftermarket filter had already been added. Since we were after more flow than the stock filter could provide, we went ahead with the intake removal.

11 Removing the airbox is as simple as pulling towards the engine and up, which removes the box from its three mounts and pulls the air silencer (pictured) from the inner fender.

12 We were now intake-less, which is where the new AFE would come into play.

13 If you think of a conical filter spread out and rolled flat, you can see how much more surface area the AFE filter has compared to the filter in the stock airbox.

14 So we didn’t have to mess with it later, the first thing we installed was the filter to the inner portion of the AFE airbox.

15 There are three rubber grommets that must be installed in the bottom of the airbox to properly line the unit up with the factory mounts.

16 With the size of the new airbox, the battery cable was hitting the side when we tried to install it. A little bit of rotation, and it was out of the way.

17 In this photo, how much larger the new AFE airbox is compared to the factory setup is clear. It comes with a turbo-to-intake connection that is equally massive.

18 With the airbox in place, it was time to connect it to the turbocharger. For this step, sliding the intake boot over the turbocharger before installing the airbox connection will save quite a bit of headache.

19 With the molded intake tract connected to the turbo, you can see how little room there is between the intake and the alternator.

20 We were almost finished! Here is a good shot of just how massive the airflow path is on the AFE unit, as compared to the stock intake setup.

21 We’d left everything loose to get it fitted right, but now it was time to clamp everything down. Keep in mind that if you forget a clamp or can’t arrange everything into place, clamps can be taken apart (like so) and added at the end of the installation.

22 With the finished product looking good, we were ready to hit the road. Up next for the RV Ram comes more power and more airflow so that we can actually take advantage of our cool, new intake.