The air intake system in your vehicle is a complex thing. It’s responsible for supplying the engine with oxygen, and it can be complicated to understand. The intake system includes your air filter, the mass air sensor (if your car has one) and the throttle body. In this article, I’ll go over how these parts work and what you can do to keep them in good condition.


The Air Filter

The first line of defence against particles that might get into your engine is the air filter. This is a soft, ductile device that fits over the engine’s intake manifold and has many small holes through which air passes into the engine. The size and shape of these holes are important: they’re designed to allow enough air in while preventing large particles from entering. When you start your car and feel the rush of cool air coming from underneath the hood, that’s the air filter working its magic.

air filter

Air filters can get clogged with dirt and debris if they’re not cared for. Changing your car’s oil is one of the best ways to keep its air filter clean, because oil particles will eventually find their way into the intake system and block the airflow. It’s important that you change your filter at least once a year or whenever it starts looking clogged. You can do this easily by yourself: all you need is a new filter and a screwdriver.

While there are many different types of filters available, most cars use an oil-based filter. This type of filter uses a cotton wick to capture particles, so you’ll need to use oil-based filters if you have an oil-separating dry-sump system in your vehicle (most high-performance cars do). If you have a wet-sump system and are using a non-oil-based filter, it will eventually get clogged with oil and block the intake system’s airflow.

The Mass Air Sensor

If your car has one of these, it’s probably a car from the late 90s to mid-2000s. Mass air sensors are used on many modern cars because they provide more accurate readings of intake air mass than simple inductive sensors (which use rotor magnets and rotary switches). These sensors work by measuring the amount of incoming air, which is then sent to the engine’s computer for processing. The computer uses this information to determine how much fuel should be injected into the cylinders during each cycle.

the mass air filter

The sensor is usually located right next to the air filter, and it’s connected to a wire harness that goes into the cabin. It may have some oil in it, but that shouldn’t be an issue as long as no water got into the system (which can happen if you drive through deep puddles). If your car has one of these sensors and it starts acting up, replace it with a new mass air sensor from your local auto parts store. 

The Throttle Body

The throttle body is located on the intake manifold and is essentially a metal plate with several holes going through it. When you step on the gas pedal, your foot pushes against this plate, causing it to rotate in different directions (depending on which gear you’re in). The rotation causes the throttle blades inside of the throttle body (which are connected to other parts) to open up, allowing more air into the engine’s cylinders.

the throttle body

This part can get clogged with dirt over time if it’s not cleaned regularly. A dirty throttle body can cause the engine to run erratically and may even damage it over time. If you have an automatic transmission, make sure you clean out the throttle body every so often (particularly after driving through a big puddle).

Turbocharger Car and Supercharger Car 

Some cars feature a turbocharger or supercharger which is connected to the throttle body. On these cars, it’s important that you don’t do any modifications to the throttle body unless you’re positive they won’t affect its performance. If you have a turbocharger car and want to replace this part, go ahead – just make sure there are no changes in engine responsiveness.

turbocharger car

If you have a supercharger, on the other hand, you’ll need to replace the whole thing with a new one. This is because superchargers are driven by an electric motor, and replacing them means you won’t have to pay for repairs later on down the line. 

The Air Intake System in Your Car

The air intake system is important: without it, your car wouldn’t run very well. It collects oxygen from the atmosphere and supplies it to the engine so that combustion can take place. If the intake system gets clogged up, your car will start running erratically and may even overheat. To prevent this from happening you should change your air filter once a year (or whenever it starts looking dirty). You can clean out the throttle body yourself if necessary, but don’t do any modifications unless they’re absolutely necessary.

If your car has a mass air sensor, make sure you change its filters regularly as well. These sensors have sensitive electronics inside of them that need to be kept cool so they work properly.