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5th-Gen Camaro SS Cold Air Intake Install and Test

CamaroAIRAIDLEAD

photos by: the author

We all know the LS3 eats power improving mods up like a kid eats candy. Heads, cam, exhaust, intake manifold… the current king of the small-block Chevy power mountain loves speed parts. But all those mods won’t do a lot of good if the motor’s choked down by a factory airbox.

Now, that’s not to say the stock airbox on a 5th-Gen isn’t good. Quite the contrary, they flow quite well. But when the engine’s thirst for air increases after modifications are installed, the factory box is soon overwhelmed and can’t flow enough air to feed the motor. Case in point is our test subject 2012 Camaro SS. The car had a Trick Flow Specialties top-end kit installed, along with Trick Flow headers, an LSR Performance catback exhaust and a FAST 102mm modular runner intake manifold. These mods netted 426 rwhp at 5600 rpm, and 411 pound-feet of torque at 5300 rpm – all of this through the factory air box.

Typically, a cold-air intake (CAI) install on a 5th-Gen Camaro will only get you about 5-10 rear-wheel horsepower on an otherwise stock SS. This is much lower than what most are used to seeing after installing CAI kits on 4th-Gen LT and LS powered cars. That’s because the 5th-Gen factory airbox flows much better than previous generations, so it’s not as much of a choke point (i.e., restriction) for airflow as in the past. But when you start increasing the amount of air an LS wants to ingest, it doesn’t take long for the factory box to become a restriction.

AIRAID’s MXP Series CAI 5th-Gen Camaro SS kit, part no. 252-243, features a roto-molded airbox, hi-density polyethylene air intake tube designed to not affect Mass Air Flow readings, and a high-flow, reusable Airaid high performance air filter. It also features easy installation and all the necessary hardware needed for the install.

AIRAID’s MXP Series CAI 5th-Gen Camaro SS kit, part no. 252-243, features a roto-molded airbox, hi-density polyethylene air intake tube designed to not affect mass air flow readings, and a high-flow, reusable AIRAID high-performance air filter. It also features easy installation and all the necessary hardware needed for the install.

“We were able to take advantage of SEMA’s technology program and obtain files directly from GM to start the design, and then took part in a few measuring sessions well in advance of the release of the Camaro in 2010.” – Trent McGee

To test this theory out, we picked up one of AIRAID’s MXP series CAI kits, part no. 252-243. It features a roto-molded airbox, hi-density polyethylene air intake tube designed to not affect mass-air flow readings, and a high-flow, reusable Airaid high performance air filter. AIRAID’s Trenton McGee filled us in some more on AIRAID’s design philosophy, and history in the CAI market:

“We spent hundreds and hundreds of hours designing and testing the MXP system for the 5th-Gen Camaro SS. We were able to take advantage of SEMA’s technology program and obtain files directly from GM to start the design, and then took part in a few measuring sessions well in advance of the release of the Camaro in 2010. We also purchased both a V6 and a V8 car as soon as they were available, then spent several hundred more hours making sure fitment was right and the performance numbers were repeatable. Then we rounded up at least a dozen more local cars for beta testing. We probably have more dyno runs on file for the 2010-2015 Camaros than any other car, though the ’15 Mustang might be close to it by now.”

“Early on we knew that we wanted to retain the functionality of the factory cold-air inlet duct, and since the factory one is actually fairly well designed, our box re-uses it while adding additional forward-facing area to draw in cool air. We spent a ridiculous amount of time on the design of the intake tube and the location of the MAF sensor to both improve airflow AND maintain proper reading to work with the factory tuning. Like all of the intakes that we sell, we wanted to be sure that the kit fit perfectly and delivered power right out of the box.”

“Like all of the intakes that we sell, we wanted to be sure that the kit fit perfectly and delivered power right out of the box.” – Trent McGee

“AIRAID offers several CAI options for the Camaro SS, including four different filters (oiled or dry in red, dry in blue or black) and we even offer a REAL carbon fiber intake tube. The carbon fiber tube performs exactly the same as the normal tube, but it brings underhood looks to the next level!”

The AIRAID kit can be installed by just about any Camaro SS owner on the planet, requiring only basic hand tools for the whole process, and can be done in less than an hour. Follow along as we highlight the removal/installation process, and see what kind of difference it made on the dyno.

 

Our test vehicle already had a host of top end mods for boosting horsepower, including a Trick Flow Specialties LS3 top end kit (heads and cam), Trick Flow headers, and FAST 102mm intake manifold. It also has an LSR Performance cat back exhaust system.

Our test vehicle already had a host of top end mods for boosting horsepower, including a Trick Flow Specialties LS3 top end kit (heads and cam), Trick Flow headers, and FAST 102mm intake manifold. It also has an LSR Performance cat back exhaust system.

 

With all the mods, the Camaro was still breathing through its factory air intake system. While these flow pretty good, they leave a lot to be desired in the looks department, and as we found at later, can choke down engine mods.

With all the mods, the Camaro was still breathing through its factory air intake system. While these flow pretty good, they leave a lot to be desired in the looks department, and as we found at later, can choke down engine mods.

 

On the Antivenom Performance DynoJet chassis dyno, our Camaro made 426 HP at 5600 rpm, and 411 pound-feet of torque at 5300 rpm.

On the AntiVenom Performance DynoJet chassis dyno, our Camaro made 426 HP at 5600 rpm, and 411 pound-feet of torque at 5300 rpm.

 

Removing the factory airbox starts with unplugging the MAF sensor in the factory air intake tube, and loosening all the clamps.

Removing the factory airbox starts with unplugging the MAF sensor in the factory air intake tube, and loosening all the clamps.

 

The PCV tube also needs to be disconnected from the air box before it can be removed.

The PCV tube also needs to be disconnected from the air box before it can be removed.

 

Then these two nuts are removed. Be sure to keep the rubber grommets, you’ll use them with installing the AIRAID kit.

Then these two nuts are removed. Be sure to keep the rubber grommets, you’ll use them with installing the AIRAID kit.

 

After that, the whole factory airbox assembly comes out.

After that, the whole factory airbox assembly comes out.

 

You’ll need to save this tube from the factory air box, as it is reused with the AIRAID kit.

You’ll need to save this tube from the factory air box, as it is reused with the AIRAID kit…

 

And installs on the Airaid filter shroud like so.

…and installs on the Airaid filter shroud like so.

 

Then slips into place where the factory box was, fitting over the washer fluid reservoir neck and factory mounting studs.

Then, it slips into place where the factory box was, fitting over the washer fluid reservoir neck and factory mounting studs.

 

Then the filter neck piece is attached to the filter shroud, and the filter mounted on that.

The filter neck piece is attached to the filter shroud, and the filter mounted on that.

 

This is where you reuse the rubber mounting grommets saved from the factory airbox.

This is where you reuse the rubber mounting grommets saved from the factory airbox.

 

This seal installs on top of the filter shroud to seal it against the hood and prevent the filter from sucking in hot air from the engine compartment. When an engine ingests too much hot air, it raises the air intake temperatures read by the MAF sensor, and will cause the computer to reduce ignition timing and thereby decreasing horsepower.

This seal installs on top of the filter shroud to seal it against the hood and prevent the filter from sucking in hot air from the engine compartment. When an engine ingests too much hot air, it raises the air intake temperatures read by the MAF sensor, and will cause the computer to reduce ignition timing, and thereby decrease horsepower.

 

Next the silicone hose adapter is installed on the throttle body.

Next, the silicone hose adapter is installed on the throttle body.

 

Then the main air intake tube is installed.

Then the main air intake tube is installed.

 

This stud mounted on the fender is for jumpstarting the car and secures the ground cable to the body. It has to be removed as part of the AIRAID CAI install. The kit comes with a new bolt to put in the stud’s place.

This stud mounted on the fender is for jumpstarting the car and secures the ground cable to the body. It has to be removed as part of the AIRAID CAI install. The kit comes with a new bolt to put in the stud’s place.

 

This nipple is screwed into the new air intake tube so the PCV system can be hooked up to the new setup.

This nipple is screwed into the new air intake tube so the PCV system can be hooked up to the new setup.

 

Next, cut this fitting off the end of the PCV tub coming from the valvecover.

Next, cut this fitting off the end of the PCV tub coming from the valvecover.

 

Then you run the included length of rubber PCV hose from the PCV tube to the nipple in the air intake tube, and clamp both ends down with the included hose clamps.

Then you run the included length of rubber PCV hose from the PCV tube to the nipple in the air intake tube, and clamp both ends down with the included hose clamps.

 

2012 Camaro SS Airaid 23

Now you can tighten the clamps that hold the air intake tube to the throttle body…

 

2012 Camaro SS Airaid 22

…and the filter shroud

 

Last thing to do is reinstall the factory Mass Air Flow sensor into the new air intake tube and plug it in.

Last thing to do is reinstall the factory mass air-flow sensor into the new air intake tube and plug it in.

 

Here’s how it looks fully installed. Not only do we have increased airflow into the engine, but the engine compartment looks less cluttered and more performance oriented. But what would the dyno tell us?

Here’s how it looks fully installed. Not only do we have increased airflow into the engine, but the engine compartment looks less cluttered and more performance-oriented. But what would the dyno tell us?

 

We installed the Airaid MXP system with the car still strapped to the dyno. We figured on a 10-15 horsepower gain, but after the first run we saw an increase of 29 peak horsepower, and 21 pound-feet of torque at the peak. Also, the point of peak horsepower moved from 5600 rpm to 6200, and peak torque moved to 5200 rpm. We also saw significant horsepower and torque gains across the entire rpm range. We ran the car again to make sure the numbers were legit, and the results were within 2-3 horsepower and 4-5 pound-feet of torque to our first run. This told us that our freer flowing heads and intake definitely wanted more air, but the factory airbox and paper filter couldn’t deliver it.

We installed the AIRAID MXP system with the car still strapped to the dyno. We figured on a 10-15 horsepower gain, but after the first run we saw an increase of 29 peak horsepower, and 21 pound-feet of torque at the peak. Also, the point of peak horsepower moved from 5600 rpm to 6200, and peak torque moved to 5200 rpm. We also saw significant horsepower and torque gains across the entire rpm range. We ran the car again to make sure the numbers were legit, and the results were within 2-3 horsepower and 4-5 pound-feet of torque to our first run. This told us that our freer-flowing heads and intake definitely wanted more air, but the factory airbox and paper filter couldn’t deliver it.

 

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