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All About the Challenger’s Intake System

All About the Challenger’s Intake System

Imagine for a second that you’re an elite level athlete. Whatever sport it is that you do, you’re good at it. Really good. Now, picture having your breathing restricted and how much that might limit your performance. It could mean the difference between being mediocre and being at the top of your game. This scenario holds entirely true for your car’s intake system—and is especially true for the third-generation (2008-2018) Challenger’s OEM system. Your car could be suped up with all the trickiest internals and shiny exhausts, but without proper airflow through its intake system, its performance is going to seriously struggle. The thing is, there are several quick and inexpensive ways to upgrade the Challenger’s intake system, and most methods will equal big performance gains. Below, we run through the Challenger’s existing system and how you can pull more power out of it.

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Air is one of the key components of combustion, and you'll want to make sure your Challenger has plenty of it. You can improve your ride's breathing capability in a number of ways such as a cold air intake, a larger throttle body, or simply a more efficient air filter.

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How an Intake System Works

Before getting Challenger specific, let’s get the gist of how an intake system works. The purpose of an air intake system is to provide your car’s engine with clean air—oxygen is one of the main ingredients for combustion. An intake system begins with an air filter, which is usually set inside a plastic or metal housing. The filter has the job of sifting out dirt and other contaminants from the incoming air that way the engine does not suck in any foreign particles.

After passing through the filter, the air makes its way to the throttle bodies. A throttle body is a butterfly valve located between the air filter and intake manifold. Specifically, it controls how much air is pushed into the engine based on driver input at the accelerator pedal. Finally, the air reaches the intake manifold—a sequence of tubes tasked with delivering an equal amount of air to each cylinder for the intake stroke.

Why Upgrade the Intake System?

The answer is simple: more efficient and a higher volume of airflow will improve your ride’s performance and fuel economy. Seriously, missing out on proper airflow will rob your Challenger of power, no matter what other upgrades you’ve made. Intake parts from the factory are often restrictive and compromise in performance to lower costs. Not exactly what you want if you’re searching for raw horsepower.


Upgrading with a Cold Air Intake – Best Bang for the Buck

Dollar for dollar, upgrading your Challenger with an aftermarket cold air intake (CAI) is the most effective way to improve airflow and extract more horsepower. The OEM unit leaves a lot to be desired in terms of breathability, much due to street legal restrictions. By replacing the stock filter with a CAI you’ll also get rid of the stock airbox, placing the intake filter in a better location to breathe cooler air.

The reason for wanting as much cool air as possible is that cold air is denser and more oxygen rich. With more oxygen, we can add more fuel—equaling more power. Other results of CAIs are better sound pitch, lower engine temperatures, and slightly improved fuel economy.

Adding a set of Aftermarket Throttle Bodies for More Airflow

Upgrading with a set of aftermarket larger throttle bodies will give your Challenger’s engine some extra air to breathe. This is extra important in the case that it has some serious internal modifications, but can also help out if you’re only upgrading the intake and exhaust systems.

By throwing a set of larger TBs on your modded ride, you’ll improve the air/fuel ratio and increase performance and throttle response throughout the rpm range.

Throttle Body Spacer Upgrade

Looking for a quick and easy upgrade for your Challenger’s intake system? Companies like Airaid offer spacer kits, which give your current throttle bodies more room to breathe. Placed between the throttle bodies and intake manifold, they increase performance by creating turbulence in the throttle body, then delivering more oxygen-rich air to the engine to increase horsepower, torque, and fuel economy.

The most significant increase in power will come between idle and 3,000 rpm. The best part? Spacer kits are a fraction of the cost in comparison to aftermarket throttle bodies. That, and they are easily installed in about an hour with simple hand tools.

Fitment includes: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, SRT-8, RT, SE, SXT, RallyeRedline, ScatPack, Hellcat, GT, TA, Demon