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2/24/2014 12:32:23 PM
How-To : AEM SVT Cold Air Intake System : AEM SVT CAI System by SVT4ME
Warning: Neither Focus Fanatics nor its Members may be held responsible for the outcome of performing such a modification to ones car(Ford Focus). Such acts are performed at ones own risk, and sole responsibility must be assumed. This may include, but not limited to, the voiding of Ford vehicles factory warranty.

Always put safety first; using jackstands, eye protection, and all other required safety measures. It is also recommended to have supervision whenever possible.

Items Needed:
1. Jack and jack stands (may not be necessary)
2. Flat-blade and Philips-head screwdrivers
3. Pliers (optional)
4. T-20 TORX screwdriver or bit
5. 4mm Allen wrench
6. 8mm, 10mm and 13mm sockets for socket wrench
7. Knife or utility blade
Install Time: Difficulty Level:
1-2 Hours 3

First things first, I would like to thank the staff team over at AEM for allowing us at to review one of their products. Thanks guys!
Our First Impression
The intake system appears to be of a nice quality, with smooth bends in the tubing and a nice glossy powder-coated finish. It includes a nice big cone-style filter and all hardware needed to complete the installation, including custom "AEM" stamped hose clamps.

Unfortunately, the system sent to me for evaluation had been through shipping hell, judging by the amount of damage to the box. The upper portion of the intake had mild "dents" at each end, which were easily pounded back into shape with careful use of a ball peen hammer. Thanks to the durability of the powder-coated finish, it did not chip or scratch at all during this process!

The installation of a cold air intake is a little more complicated than for a short ram style, but this is certainly not out of reach for the beginning enthusiast. I would classify myself as somewhere in between novice and intermediate in terms of skills and what repairs or modifications I have performed in the past, and found this to be a simple installation. Just take your time, don't rush it, ask questions if you get stuck and you should be fine.

The instructions included with the intake are fairly clear and include black and white photographs. For the most part I found them to be sufficient to help me along, occasionally I had to stop and think for myself a little bit to make sure I was doing the right thing. I found the instructions most useful for making sure that I was properly removing the factory-installed intake.

One thing that I did different from the AEM instructions was to leave the car "on the ground" whereas they suggest you jack it up and place it on stands. I found this was unnecessary, however before starting you might get down on the ground and see how well you are able to reach under the front bumper and fenders. If it's too much of a contortion act, then the jacking up is probably a good idea for you. However it is still not necessary to jack the car until you actually begin the lower intake installation process, everything else can easily be accomplished from the top.

Step 1
The removal of the stock intake is a fairly straight-forward procedure. First, before starting anything, make sure the car is secure, in gear and with parking brake set and ignition off with the engine cool to the touch. Under the hood, first you want to remove the plastic cover over the ignition assembly. This lifts off, with two small tabs to unlock it on the left side. Also remove the plastic cover for the battery - unlock the tab on the right and lift the cover up and to the left to unhook it. Now is a good time to disconnect the battery, by removing the negative cable from the battery post. Always negative first, then positive, for safety's sake. You can wait to disconnect the positive terminal until it's time to remove the battery. You can optionally remove the battery now (see Step 3 for removal instructions). If you do not remove it, take care to avoid accidentally crossing the two terminals of the battery with your tools or your body. The cables are held onto the posts by clamps that are tightened or loosened using a 10mm socket. Next, unhook the MAF sensor's wiring harness, which is a simple thumb-release connection. Then, release the clamp on the stock intake pipe, nearest the throttle body. These "pop" open with the help of a small flat-blade screwdriver. Remove the breather hose from the valve cover - in my case, this was stuck on and required the use of pliers to help wrangle it off.
  Step 2
Now you're ready to remove the bulk of the intake assembly. And this is where those who have never removed the airbox from their SVT think they must have missed something, it's stuck in there pretty tight. The assembly is held onto the car by four rubber grommets that "legs" on the bottom of the airbox fit into. It's usually a tight fit, so just pull up firmly and "rock" the intake if needed to help it loosen from the grommets. Next remove the car's MAF sensor from the stock intake, using a Torx bit. On my car the Torx screws were T-20, however I can't guarantee each car will be the same. Treat the MAF with care, it is a sensitive and easily-damaged (and expensive) assembly. Set it aside for now. On the airbox, remove the 90 degree plastic fitting and the breather hose. Save the plastic fitting, you will be reusing it, and if it's dirty, now is a good time to clean it.
Step 3
At this time you can remove the battery from the car, if you didn't remove it earlier. Loosen the bolt holding the strap assembly and move the strap rearward to gain access to the battery. Once the battery is removed you can then remove the battery tray, which is held in place by three 13mm bolts. Also make sure to remove the plastic tabs that hold the wire harnesses onto the tray. Once again, it's a tight squeeze and may require a little careful twisting and turning to free it from the engine compartment. Now you can finish removing the stock intake. Use a Philips-head screwdriver to remove the plastic screws at the front of the air snorkel, and then lift up to release the air snorkel at the front of the car. At the other end of the snorkel simply lift up to release it from the mounting tab, and then snake the intake snorkel out of the engine compartment.

Step 4
Now you're ready to install the new AEM intake! Take the opportunity to check the throttle body for signs of sludge build-up by rotating the butterfly valve and clean if necessary. Install the 2.75" connector hose on the throttle body and lightly clamp it down. Then take the upper intake pipe and install the MAF you set aside earlier using the provided screws; do not reuse the Ford screws, and be careful not to over tighten as you may strip the aluminum threads in the intake. Slip another clamp loosely onto the 2.75" connector fitting and then slide the upper intake into place, do not tighten the clamps down all the way. Now comes the part where you may find that jacking up the car is helpful. The rubber isolation mount for the lower portion of the intake is mounted onto the lower radiator support bracket, using the existing hole. Install it at this time, only attach the lower washer and nut for now to hold the mount in place.
Step 5
Take the supplied length of 5/32" hose and using a sharp knife or blade slice it down the middle, being careful to only slice one side. Wrap this onto the hydraulic line as shown in the instructions. You're making a rubber insulator to protect the clutch's hydraulic line from possible wear if vibrations should cause the intake to contact the line, as it is a very close fit. Now retrieve the plastic 90 degree breather hose fitting and install it in the new lower intake pipe, and install the lower pipe to the upper pipe using the 3.00" to 2.75" reducer hose and appropriate-sized clamps (again do not tighten all the way).

Step 6
This is where the installation can take some time, depending on how much "fine-tuning" you need to do: you want to get the lower pipe's mounting bracket fitted onto the rubber isolation mount you installed earlier (using the remaining washer and nut on top of the bracket) and adjust the intake pipes as needed to provide proper fitment without any rubbing or contact. I found that I needed to "tweak" one of the horn mounting brackets to get the horn and intake to avoid touching each other. Install the air filter on the end of the intake pipe and tighten it in place, making sure the filter is as far up the tube as you can push it. Once again you will probably need to check for rubbing and contact and twist the intake pipes to adjust for any contact you may encounter. Again, this is a part of the installation where some may find the extra elbow room provided by jacking the car up useful. Once you're sure everything is where it should be, tighten the clamps and rubber isolation mount to hold the intake firmly in place. AEM's instructions tell you to do this last, before reinstalling the battery, but I tightened at this time to avoid having the installation of the new breather hose accidentally rotate the intake and mess up my efforts to get everything lined up perfectly. When installing the new breather hose be sure to get it as far onto the fittings as possible to ensure a tight fit, and check that it does not obstruct or pinch any wiring or the DSI cable. Route it behind the tubing and throttle cables as shown in the AEM instructions. Now reconnect the MAF wiring harness to the MAF sensor.
Step 7
Before reinstalling the battery tray, check to make sure you have not accidentally dislodged any wiring, that no wires or tubing are pinched or stretched, and recheck to make sure all clamps and fasteners are tight.

Once you know the intake is positioned where you want it, the clamps should be nice and tight to avoid the possibility of air leaks which will cause erratic behavior. When placing the battery tray into the car, do not force it, work it gently down and be careful not to snag any wires. Remember to reattach the plastic tabs that hold the wire harness neatly against the tray. Reinstall the battery, connecting the POSITIVE cable first and the NEGATIVE cable second. Don't be alarmed (as I was!) by small sparks as you reattach the negative cable, Ford insists this is normal. As an "old-school" car owner primarily, I have not experienced this before and was not expecting this but apparently a lot of today's cars do this and it is nothing to be concerned about. Snug up the nuts holding the cables onto the posts, reattach the plastic covers over the battery and ignition, and you are DONE!

As mentioned in the AEM instructions, you may experience erratic behavior from the engine at first, as disconnecting the battery has reset the computer's idle memory, which it has to "relearn." The computer will also adjust for the increased airflow it now has to work with. Listen for air leaks at the "joints" in the intake, check for stray tools, and if everything checks out, you're ready for the test drive!
  Our Final Impression
I had some idea of what to expect from this intake, based on the experiences of others and the dyno charts posted on AEM's website, and those expectations were met. This is a nice product when used appropriately. By that, I mean that anyone who plans to use this intake in rainy weather should either invest in AEM's bypass valve, or remove the intake and reinstall the factory setup during the winter months. Otherwise you risk serious engine damage from hydrolock, a condition caused by the intake funneling water into the cylinders (the filter does sit very close to the ground). This is the trade-off for having a cold-air intake; you get the colder air from a location that is lower and more "exposed" than the filter location in a short-ram style intake, meaning a careless driver could potentially damage their engine. On the other hand you get consistently better gains in power compared to a short-ram intake which pulls air from the engine compartment, which can get quite hot.

As far as changes noticed from stock - it's louder. A LOT louder! But "good" loud - it has a healthy snarl or growl at wide open throttle that is most satisfying to hear. As others have noticed, there is a slight "whistle" sound at part-throttle conditions, similar to the sound of a blow-off valve on a turbocharged engine. It is not so loud or constantly present as to be irritating to me personally but others have said it was something of a minor annoyance to them. As far as improvements in power, so far I have logged more than 120 miles since installation and I can say there is a noticeable boost in mid-range power. The car pulls harder and stronger than before, with seemingly improved throttle response as well. If you look back at AEM's dyno charts after having spent some time driving the car post-installation, they seem to correlate the behind-the-wheel experience: a slight improvement all the way through the power band, with the most change being in torque output around 3,000 to 4,500 RPM. I would not hesitate to recommend this intake to anyone looking for a quality-built intake that will last for years and provide them with the sound and power they seek. Thanks to AEM and the staff of for providing me with the opportunity to do this, it was great fun!
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