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Snake Oil...after market stuff.

PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2015 1:16 am
by Les / Vipers Rule
Snake oil sold everywhere. Even if one attempts to be a wiser shopper it can be easy to be caught up in a snake oil trick.

A few years ago after I bought my Hyundai Elantra, I was into the idea of tweaking it with a CAI. Read how I'd get oh maybe 10hp. Meh it was just under $200 US shipped. I know Elantras are not hi-po sports cars but hey, if I could get a bit of a performance tweak it would be an easy $200 thing to do. Especially moving from my then cool and faster Daytona Shelby Z which I miss dearly today! :cry:

I had the CAI on within 2 weeks of buying the car and I had little feel of how the car really drove in day to day living before bolting on my CAI. I put it on and upon start up the added growl caught my attention and as I began life with the CAI. I believed I was getting more OOMPH! Under good throttle the car growled nicely and it felt like I was getting some get up and go. It did feel as if I really was getting a snappier throttle response. So it all felt good (my butt dyno was happy :lol: )

Well a week ago or so I pulled it out and put the stock set up back in. I may be selling the Elantra soon and figure to sell it in stock condition.

BUT! what I soon found out was the following.

Driving around with the stock air box back in I noticed the car was obviously quieter. But it actually has more bottom end once you get past the ever so slightly slower throttle snap. I found that in comparison to the last few years with the CAI I have more torque and a smoother acceleration between especially 2000-3000rpm where as I now realize the CAI gave me a bit of a flat power spot in that rev range. Yes, maybe at the top end of revs in WOT that CAI may have felt a bit more stronger (I doubt it much though) but in reality it was SNAKE OIL! The added growl with a bit of a snappier throttle off idle had me BELIEVE the CAI as a simple bolt on was making my car faster.

Well since then I have been reading up on forums and watching YOUTUBE vids to see that CAI or ram filters or even K&N drop ins are really just BULL SHIT, SNAKE OIL if one only does as a simple bolt on or drop in. Of course many on line like I use to be, using only our butt dynos believe these give more performance and even better fuel economy. But I now know better that they only do one thing well, TAKE MONEY FROM YOUR WALLET!

Of course one can get added after market performance to most any car, but it's not just a simple drop in K&N air filter or bolt on CAI or ram filter. It requires moving air in well, combusting it well and moving the exhaust out well.

CAI + Pro ecu tuning + freerer flowing exhaust + maybe bigger fuel injectors can yield real power gains. I bet after such one can see 10-15-20-25% more power typically. So maybe if I spend $1000-$1500-$2000 to do all this on my Elantra I can go from maybe 140 bhp stock to maybe 160-165-170 bhp or so. But I'd still have just a nice car but still meh an Elantra, not a Porcshe, Viper, Camaro, Challenger,Vette, RX-7, Supra, Mustang, or BMW M3 etc.

Like one poster on a forum I read noted. "If you want a faster car, BUY A FASTER CAR!"

I could tomorrow get 90+ bhp more power for about $1,500 plus selling my Elantra and get a faster and even cooler car without getting may hands dirty and without having to shop around, order and wait to install parts that on my Elantra may only get me 20 or so more bhp.

CAI, ram filter, K&N drop ins are SNAKE OIL as real performance upgrades, if that is all one does to their car. You may likely get lesser real world performance and lesser fuel economy by adding such and just PISS YOUR MONEY AWAY!

Hyundai engineers (in my case) know their engines and designed in my case the 2.0L 4 banger to give best power, driveability, quietness and fuel economy. Some small shops peddling CAI, ram filters or even the mighty K&N marketers with their drop in filters do not know the engine better.

SAVE YOUR MONEY GUYS! Unless you want to do a front to back tuning of your car's induction, fuel, spark, ecu tuning and exhaust.


That said their are things one can do to get better all around performance. First, buy better tires. That alone will gain you better driveability, ride and cornering power. Buy better brakes and maybe improve your suspension. These things ARE NOT SNAKE OIL!

Re: Snake Oil...after market stuff.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2015 9:48 pm
by tut
mighty car mods did a few vids on this

actually, when i had my daihatsu applause, i did some autobahn testing, and got the highest top speed with a cleanish standard filter (compared to k&n panel and a k&n CAI )

and it was nice and quiet :)

Re: Snake Oil...after market stuff.

PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 12:18 am
by Les / Vipers Rule
Yeah, I saw their shows on Youtube, good job with debunking the snake oil I've written about here. They are also quite entertaining with their shows.

Re: Snake Oil...after market stuff.

PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 1:19 pm
by Talon
I bought a K&N drop in for my Subaru and definitely felt a difference in throttle response and lower end torque. I’ve always believed that helping the engine breathe was the best way to add ‘cheap’ performance. Will you get the 10% they advertise? Hell no, but I figured for $40 it was worth the cost for the filter. And, it’s the best start IMO.

There are cars that will benefit more than others, of course. A Hyundai isn’t going to do much, but a turbo car will see more benefits. But, again, an intake is only a piece of the puzzle. If you want the best bang for the buck, you have to go intake, exhaust, and TUNE! The tune is very important and N/A cars will (some more than others) respond. My RSX-S went from 160 whp to 200 whp with only those three things. That’s very impressive from an n/a motor.

There’s a guy on youtube that does great educational videos: Engineering Explained. He also has a segment where he adds minor power adders to his Integra to see how it effects acceleration. They’re worth a watch, IMO.

Re: Snake Oil...after market stuff.

PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 8:15 pm
by Les / Vipers Rule
Subaru engineers have designed the stock air box to supply your Subaru with all the air it will ever need under any performance criteria. Your throttle is by design the greatest restrictor in your system, not your air box or such. Your MAP sensor with supplied O2 sensors will do all to make sure you get the as engineered air/fuel mixture (14.7/1 stoich is the goal) at any and all revs and loads. Your K&N on your BUTT DYNO feels better but in reality it's not doing anything that you can accurately measure and objectively feel.

I had a drop in K&N on my old Shelby Z and my butt dyno told me it was better. I never bothered to question such at the time, I bought the hype. My Cold Air Intake on my Elantra also told my butt dyno that I got better throttle response and more oomph. Before I took it off, I just accepted my butt dyno as being right.

After I took it off and now feel that my Elantra accelerates smoother through all revs from idle up to redline and now has no flat spots down low where the CAI did give me a feeling of a flat spot at lower to medium revs, even if maybe just maybe it's off idle throttle response may be a tad slower now with the stock box (probably more in my head though). From this I began to really read up and learn about the snake oil these drop in air filters, Ram filters and CAI are.

At WOT you may get a measurable improvement but probably more like 1-2-3-4% at best. Some cars may even get less power from such even at WOT.

MARKETING HYPE, FANCY BOXES/PACKAGING, COOL LOOKS AND ANECDOTAL MUMBO JUMBO BY CUSTOMERS OR WORSE BOUGHT AND PAID FOR CELEBS OR TECHNICIANS! etc. has a lot of power on our subjective minds and desire to believe we spent good money for real performance improvements.

Fact is any auto mechanic or engineer if not bought and sold or not a liar will tell you it's BULL SHIT and can on a properly set up dyno prove any gains you get will be marginal at best and probably within the specs of engineered tolerances of your car/truck. Most experts believe unless you get 10%+ demonstrable improvement in power and /or torque YOU WONT TRULY FEEL IT! Your subjective butt dyno may because you want to validate the purchase to yourself and to maybe even propagate such to others. It's like idiots who buy expensive audio cables and speaker wire for hi-fi. They believe it sounds better, but it's because they dropped real cash and they want to believe it was not a waste. And to be gender neutral, same with idiot women who buy $20-$30-$40 shampoos and conditioners etc. thinking it makes their hair better than the $3-$4-$5 stuff they could buy. THEY WANT TO BELIEVE!

I have a post secondary education in sales and marketing. I know the power of marketing and selling. Even I fell and still may fall for it at times. :roll:

You may disagree with me but in your objective mind you will know that I'm correct.

Look, I bought into this shit too. Near $200 for a CAI on my Elantra, for in the end no real improvement but a chunk of less money in my wallet.

To get real improvement you must do more than a simple air filter change, Ram intake or CAI. You must tune and retune the whole auto combustion system. But the peddlers of such stuff don't want you or me to know this as we will then not be so quick to impulse buy their crap.

But of course my CAI did sound more cool and angry especially under acceleration. You or others may value such similar stuff for your money.


Re: Snake Oil...after market stuff.

PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2015 1:56 am
by Swerve
Turbo cars are a bit different because many run extremely rich at WOT, so any extra airflow can make a difference. But I don't care that much. My MR2's GT3082 turbo has a 4" inlet, but I still have the previous owner's setup of a 3"' reducer through to pod filter. Would love the RacerX air box with 4" piping, but it's hard to justify at $300 plus shipping!

Re: Snake Oil...after market stuff.

PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2015 5:12 pm
by ryguy79
The real benefit of K&N filters, and I've used them on almost all my cars, is that you can just wash and re-oil them instead of shelling out for a new filter. Especially handy as I've always done a fair amount of driving on dirt roads. Takes a few times to break even, but certainly my preference.

Re: Snake Oil...after market stuff.

PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2015 2:35 am
by tut
I've heard stories of that oil used to re oil them getting into the car and causing damage?

I just go for quiet and more power with stock filters...

Re: Snake Oil...after market stuff.

PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2015 1:37 am
by Les / Vipers Rule
tut wrote:I've heard stories of that oil used to re oil them getting into the car and causing damage?

I just go for quiet and more power with stock filters...

The story mostly comes from people who put too much oil on their K&N (style) filters after washing them. The oil gets on cars with MAF sensors and messes the sensors up. The issue should not be one if people re oil sparingly but like all too many things among lay people, they often misuse products and in the case of re-oiling figure if a little helps and lot must be better. Just like home gardener who use too much weed killer.

I had a K&N drop in filter with my Daytona Shelby, It never needed to be washed and re-oiled while I had it installed. My car did not have a MAF sensor so I had no such issues. But it really never gained me any more HP and none of these really do unless you do a intake and exhaust reworking. Air in must be compensated by air out.

K&N type filters have been critisized for letting in TOO much dirt though as well. Not sure how true that is, but for most of us a good drop in paper filter is all you need and even if you have to change it out 2-3-4 times while you own the car could be cheaper than a K&N filter with a wash and re-oiling kit.