AIRAID Cold Air Intake on a Duramax

It’s no secret that an engine is a giant air pump, and anything you can do to eliminate restrictions on the intake and/or the exhaust, the better the engine will run and the more power it will make. While this holds true with any engine, it’s most dramatic with modern diesels. Large displacements and variable-vane turbos demand incredible amounts of air in order to run at their peak efficiency, yet the OEs usually sacrifice airflow in order to keep under-hood noise to a minimum.

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This is exactly why aftermarket intakes and exhaust systems are so effective: they eliminate restrictions and enable an engine to breath easier, which results in more power, better fuel economy, and even lower EGT. Best of all, most quality aftermarket systems offer a simple bolt-on installation, making them perfect for shade tree mechanics.

One of the most established names in the air intake business is AIRAID, a company that’s been catering to the needs of diesel enthusiasts for many years with a wide selection of diesel truck intake systems. Often the first to market with an intake for new diesel models, AIRAID is well known for utilizing quality components that fit correctly and work right out of the box with no tuning required.

1. Our test mule was a 2011 Chevy 2500HD with a 6.6L LML Duramax engine. The truck had a leveling kit and some slightly larger tires than stock, but otherwise was just how it left the factory. The stock intake helps keep the engine noise to a minimum, but those noise-cancelling properties come at the cost of airflow and overall performance.

1. Our test mule was a 2011 Chevy 2500HD with a 6.6L LML Duramax engine. The truck had a leveling kit and some slightly larger tires than stock, but otherwise was just how it left the factory. The stock intake helps keep the engine noise to a minimum, but those noise-cancelling properties come at the cost of airflow and overall performance.

2. The AIRAID MXP cold air intake system replaces everything from the throttle body out. All MXP Series intakes include a new roto-molded intake box, new intake tube, velocity stack, couplers, hardware, and, of course, the filter itself. Note that the AIRAID air box utilizes the factory cold air inlet duct in the fender but also adds a forward-facing inlet and a lower “snorkel” that grabs cool air from behind the front bumper.

2. The AIRAID MXP cold air intake system replaces everything from the throttle body out. All MXP Series intakes include a new roto-molded intake box, new intake tube, velocity stack, couplers, hardware, and, of course, the filter itself. Note that the AIRAID air box utilizes the factory cold air inlet duct in the fender but also adds a forward-facing inlet and a lower “snorkel” that grabs cool air from behind the front bumper.

3. The first stage of the process is removing the factory intake system. Before you do anything, disconnect the negative cables on both batteries. This helps prevent check engine lights and also forces the engine to re-learn its tuning once the installation is complete. The stock intake tube is held in place with simple worm clamps, while the intake box itself is removed by pulling upward firmly to release the box from its rubber grommets. Use caution when removing the stock intake to make sure you don’t damage any wiring or other under-hood components.

3. The first stage of the process is removing the factory intake system. Before you do anything, disconnect the negative cables on both batteries. This helps prevent check engine lights and also forces the engine to re-learn its tuning once the installation is complete. The stock intake tube is held in place with simple worm clamps, while the intake box itself is removed by pulling upward firmly to release the box from its rubber grommets. Use caution when removing the stock intake to make sure you don’t damage any wiring or other under-hood components.

4. Beneath the stock intake box is a flat metal panel that also needs to be removed to make room for the larger AIRAID box. It’s held in place with four 10mm bolts. The plate can be discarded but save the bolts for re-use.

4. Beneath the stock intake box is a flat metal panel that also needs to be removed to make room for the larger AIRAID box. It’s held in place with four 10mm bolts. The plate can be discarded but save the bolts for re-use.

To get some firsthand experience with the product line for ourselves, we traveled to the company’s headquarters and followed along as technicians installed an intake on a 2011 Chevy 2500HD equipped with a 6.6L LML Duramax engine. Once the R&R procedure was complete, we strapped the otherwise stone-stock truck to the company’s chassis dyno and made several pulls to see the difference. We found that the intake works exactly as advertised, with a gain of 19 horsepower and 34 lb.-ft. of torque. Not bad for a simple bolt-on installation that took less than 30 minutes to perform! Check out the photos for the full details, and be sure to keep AIRAID in mind when shopping for an intake for your truck. DW

5. The new AIRAID MXP air box dwarfs the factory box. Not only does it accommodate a much larger filter, it greatly increases the amount of cool outside air available to the filter. It’s an open-element design that uses the hood as a lid for the air box; weatherstripping along the top of the box keeps the engine compartment air isolated from the filter.

5. The new AIRAID MXP air box dwarfs the factory box. Not only does it accommodate a much larger filter, it greatly increases the amount of cool outside air available to the filter. It’s an open-element design that uses the hood as a lid for the air box; weatherstripping along the top of the box keeps the engine compartment air isolated from the filter.

6. The AIRAID box drops right in place of the original and slides into position without a whole lot of effort. It’s held in place with three of the four 10mm bolts that were removed with the factory plate. Tech tip: it’s sometimes easier to pre-position the new intake tube before dropping the air box into place, as we found this easier than trying to install the intake tube once the box is in place.

6. The AIRAID box drops right in place of the original and slides into position without a whole lot of effort. It’s held in place with three of the four 10mm bolts that were removed with the factory plate. Tech tip: it’s sometimes easier to pre-position the new intake tube before dropping the air box into place, as we found this easier than trying to install the intake tube once the box is in place.

7. Some thought obviously went into the new AIRAID intake tube. Not only does it include provisions for all of the factory sensors and such, it incorporates a velocity stack into the filter mount that optimizes airflow similar to the venturis on a carburetor. It also has smooth interior walls rather than the factory accordion-style tube.

7. Some thought obviously went into the new AIRAID intake tube. Not only does it include provisions for all of the factory sensors and such, it incorporates a velocity stack into the filter mount that optimizes airflow similar to the venturis on a carburetor. It also has smooth interior walls rather than the factory accordion-style tube.

8. There are a few things that need to be transferred from the original intake to the new one. One of these is the filter minder, which simply pops into the new intake tube using the original grommet. The other is the MAF sensor, which is attached to the stock intake box with Torx screws. AIRAID supplies the correct-size bit to remove the screws, which is a nice touch. New Allen-head screws are supplied to attach the MAF sensor to the AIRAID tube.

8. There are a few things that need to be transferred from the original intake to the new one. One of these is the filter minder, which simply pops into the new intake tube using the original grommet. The other is the MAF sensor, which is attached to the stock intake box with Torx screws. AIRAID supplies the correct-size bit to remove the screws, which is a nice touch. New Allen-head screws are supplied to attach the MAF sensor to the AIRAID tube.

9. AIRAID supplies a hump hose and stainless steel clamps to connect the intake tube to the throttle body. We recommend positioning the hump hose and clamps on the throttle body first and then popping the intake tube into place between the box and the throttle body. It takes a little finesse to get everything positioned just right, but once it’s in, everything fits like a glove.

9. AIRAID supplies a hump hose and stainless steel clamps to connect the intake tube to the throttle body. We recommend positioning the hump hose and clamps on the throttle body first and then popping the intake tube into place between the box and the throttle body. It takes a little finesse to get everything positioned just right, but once it’s in, everything fits like a glove.

10. The lower portion of the intake tube secures to the MXP air box using four stainless Allen-head bolts. The filter attaches to the intake tube itself, so there’s no need for another coupler at the intake box.

10. The lower portion of the intake tube secures to the MXP air box using four stainless Allen-head bolts. The filter attaches to the intake tube itself, so there’s no need for another coupler at the intake box.

11. With the installation largely complete, the weatherstripping can be installed on the top edge of the air box. Another installation tip: if you spread the channel in the weatherstripping slightly by running the blade of a small screwdriver through it, it’s much easier to push the weatherstripping on to the box edge and make all of the corners. This weatherstripping is important because it seals against the underside of the hood, which keeps hot engine air away from the filter.

11. With the installation largely complete, the weatherstripping can be installed on the top edge of the air box. Another installation tip: if you spread the channel in the weatherstripping slightly by running the blade of a small screwdriver through it, it’s much easier to push the weatherstripping on to the box edge and make all of the corners. This weatherstripping is important because it seals against the underside of the hood, which keeps hot engine air away from the filter.

12. The last piece of the puzzle is the filter itself. AIRAID offers all of its intake systems in two filter styles and four colors. There’s a traditional red oiled filter media, or SynthaMax dry filter media in red, blue or black. The filters are virtually identical in terms of filtration and flow, making the proper choice a matter of personal preference. All AIRAID filters carry a lifetime warranty.

12. The last piece of the puzzle is the filter itself. AIRAID offers all of its intake systems in two filter styles and four colors. There’s a traditional red oiled filter media, or SynthaMax dry filter media in red, blue or black. The filters are virtually identical in terms of filtration and flow, making the proper choice a matter of personal preference. All AIRAID filters carry a lifetime warranty.

13. Here’s the finished product, which looks clean and fits well. Note the CARB sticker with the EO number on the core support indicating that this kit is 50-state legal. No tuning is required with this intake system, but combining this intake with a tuner or an exhaust system is a great way to add even more power than each modification would individually.

13. Here’s the finished product, which looks clean and fits well. Note the CARB sticker with the EO number on the core support indicating that this kit is 50-state legal. No tuning is required with this intake system, but combining this intake with a tuner or an exhaust system is a great way to add even more power than each modification would individually.

14. As promised, here’s the performance data from AIRAID’s all-wheel-drive Mustang chassis dyno: 19 horsepower and 34 lb.-ft. of torque. As you can also see, the kit helps throughout the rpm range instead of only peak numbers, indicating substantial drivability improvements. Not bad for about half an hour’s worth of work.

14. As promised, here’s the performance data from AIRAID’s all-wheel-drive Mustang chassis dyno: 19 horsepower and 34 lb.-ft. of torque. As you can also see, the kit helps throughout the rpm range instead of only peak numbers, indicating substantial drivability improvements. Not bad for about half an hour’s worth of work.

SOURCE:

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