What is the air intake system/what does it do?
The job of a car's air intake system is to allow air to reach the car engine. The engine needs oxygen from the air in order for combustion to work. It is imperative that the car's engine is supplied with the correct amount of clean, filtered air. The engine needs the air to be as clean as possible before it mixes with the fuel and burns in the cylinders of the engine. The overall result of this ensures the engine is working to its optimum, providing more power and fuel efficiency. A car's air intake system consists of several vital components that work together to ensure the air entering the engine is a steady and uninterrupted flow of clean, filtered air.
Getting into the details of the air intake system
One of the main parts of the car's air intake system is the air filter. Situated behind the front grille, the air intake system pulls in air from outside the car through an air intake pipe. Housed in an air filter box (which protects the air filter and also assists in the direction of air flow) connected to the car's air intake, the air filter catches particles and filters and cleans the air at the point it enters the car's air intake system. The air filter protects the engine, by filtering the air before it reaches the engine, collecting dust and other particles before they can get into the engine compartment and cause damage. Before it reaches the engine, the clean, filtered air is mixed with fuel. It then travels to the intake manifold where the air and fuel mixture is pumped into the cylinders of the engine where combustion takes place. The air filter also helps to silence the engine to a degree, in that the sound is absorbed by the filter.
The air flow meter, also referred to as an air flow mass meter, air flow mass sensor, or air flow sensor, is an electronic air flow sensor which measures air flow; the mass of air which is flowing through the car's engine, and is an important part of the Engine Control Unit (ECU). The air flow meter has a vital part to play in the performance, power and efficiency of the car's engine. The air flow meter is usually found in the plastic housing between the engine and the air filter. It's attached to the air hose at one end and the air filter box at the other. The engine needs the correct amount of air and fuel flowing through it in order for the fuel to burn in the cylinders and for the engine to ignite or spark at the right time. If the ignition sparks at the wrong time, there will be less power in the engine and it will try to make up for this by using more fuel, significantly reducing fuel efficiency, which in turn increases the car's CO2 emissions. The air flow meter works by measuring the air flow and sending these measurements to the car's ECU which, based on these measurements, will control the amount of fuel flowing into the engine at the point at which the ignition sparks.
A small but important part of the car's air intake system is the air injection valve. Its job is to allow air from the air pump to enter the exhaust system while stopping the reverse flow of exhaust fumes back into the air intake system. The air injection valve is usually found in the plastic housing between the engine and the air filter. It's attached to the air hose which is connected to the air flow sensor which is attached to the air filter box. This type of valve is known as a check valve, because it checks or stops the flow of gas in one direction. It has an important part to play in the overall performance of the engine, enabling it to work as efficiently and effectively as possible. By stopping exhaust fumes from re-entering the car's air intake system, the air injection valve helps to prevent damage to the engine.
Overall, the air intake system improves the performance of the engine, providing it with a constant supply of clean, filtered air, enabling it to work as efficiently as possible while increasing the working life of the engine.