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Installing a Performance Intake System
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Installing a Performance Intake System

Time:

2 hours

Tab:

$130 to $550

Talent:

**

Tools:

Screwdrivers, socket set, wrenches

Applicable Models:

R52 MINI Cooper Convertible (2005-08)
R52 MINI Cooper S Convertible (2005-08)
R53 MINI Cooper S Hatchback (2002-06)

Parts Required:

Performance Intake System

Hot Tip:

Ask around before you buy your kit

Performance Gain:

Maybe 3-10 HP on a good day

Complementary Modification:

DME modification
How to Maintain and Modify your new MINI

This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Pelican Parts' new book, How to Maintain and Modify your new MINI The book contains 240 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to changing your brake pads. With more than 500+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any MINI owner's collection. The book is due to be released in late 2015. See The Official Book Website for more details.

There's been a lot of talk on Internet chat boards lately about cold air intake (CAI) systems. Some manufacturers will swear up and down that there's hidden horsepower in the intake system. Other 'experts' claim that it's snake oil: a myth that has easily circulated in the age of the Internet. The truth is likely located somewhere in-between. On some MINI models, a properly engineered cold air intake kit can effectively cool the intake charge entering into the cylinders. Why do you want this in the first place? Cooler, denser air will further decrease engine detonation, and will also deliver a denser air charge which theoretically corresponds to an increase in horsepower.

First of all, the stock MINI intake system is indeed already a cold air intake system. It has a scoop that sits in the radiator housing frame that receives air from the front of the car and directs it into the airbox. Where it doesn't work too well is in the area of airflow restriction. The stock system is somewhat restrictive, and makes the air work its way around an S-bend, then through a panel filter, and finally down through a rubber hose into the engine. The John Cooper Works cars use a revised intake that includes a cone filter that sits inside the stock airbox in what appears to be an effort to reduce airflow restriction.

Aftermarket performance intakes serve two purposes: to better inject colder air directly into the intake system, and also to reduce the restrictions that are inherent in the stock system. In the case of the MINI, an opportunity to add even more air is realized by modifying the rear cowl panel behind the airbox. Directly behind and above this panel is one of the cowl vents which sits right in the path of oncoming air. By cutting a larger hole in this panel in combination with a cold air intake, you greatly increase the volume of air reaching the engine.

Just how much horsepower can you expect to gain? It all depends on your particular MINI and which model kit you use. Another important factor is modifications already done to the car. A ported and polished cylinder head along with a performance camshaft is certainly going to flow more air than a stock cylinder head. It is also possible that a poorly designed kit used with an aftermarket air filter will actually create more restriction in the intake, and cause a decrease in horsepower. This is especially true on cars where a cone filter was added without any attempt to shield it from the heated air around the engine.

In addition, a poorly installed intake system with leaks will also decrease performance. I have seen dyno tests where the installation of an intake system has done nothing, or has even reduced horsepower. Then again, I have seen other tests where significant gains of about 10 HP were recorded. The bottom line is that a performance intake system is a (typically) expensive aftermarket add-on that may increase your horsepower on a stock engine only slightly. Some kits cost over $500, which translates into a very high dollar per horsepower ratio. Some other kits are less expensive, and incorporate reusable aftermarket filters. .

There are literally hundreds of manufacturers of CAI's from the large tuning companies to people selling homemade kits on eBay. If you are going to install one of these on your car, I would do your research first, and stick with a well-known manufacturer. I've personally heard good recommendations from people who run kits available from MINI Madness, M7 and Alta Performance.

For our project car, we chose to use the MINI Madness unit as it seems to be a good trade off between design and cost. It retains the bottom portion of the stock intake, as well as feeding the rear of the filter housing from the front cowl through a considerably large, reusable cone filter (See Figure 1).

This kit comes with the rear cowl panel already modified and ready for installation, or you can remove your existing panel and cut it yourself. In our case, we will go over the steps involved with removing the lower airbox to gain access to this panel and cut it ourselves.

Begin by disconnecting the battery and then loosening the hose clamp holding the upper air hose to the air filter housing. The OEM MINI hose clamp uses a special tool to remove and re-attach the hose clamp, but a flat blade screwdriver will suffice in removal. In our case, we simply replaced the hose clamp with a traditional screw type that is more easily removed (See Figure 2). Next, pull the rubber hose off the upper air filter housing and remove the two mounting screws at the front of the cover (See Figure 2 and Figure 3). Pull the jump-start terminal off the side of the upper airbox cover and off the 'finger' extending out from the side. Now remove the upper cover and the filter underneath (See Figure 4 and Figure 5).

At the front of the engine, you'll see the scoop that feeds the intake right above the radiator. Follow this back to where the rubber connection meets the black plastic feed hose. Remove either the factory hose clamp or the screw type clamp if installed (See Figure 7). Now look inside the lower airbox. You'll see the termination of the black plastic hose inside and is secured with a plastic tab. Press the tab in and remove the lower plastic hose (See Figure 8). It will take a bit of effort to remove it.

At the front of the airbox, there is a 10mm bolt that secures a plate holding various wiring harnesses. This bolt also acts as the front attachment point for the lower airbox assembly. Loosen this bolt and pull it up and out of the hole (See Figure 9). The airbox assembly also serves as the mounting location for the vehicle's electronic control unit or ECU. You'll need to remove the two harness connectors from the top. Remove the cover at the top and locate the two clips at either end of the connectors. Slide them both back in order to release them. As they slide back, they will eject themselves from the ECU (See Figure 10).

Now pull the whole airbox assembly back and straight out of the engine compartment (See Figure 11). If you have installed the auxiliary driving lights in your car, you will also need to remove the 12V source wire from the relay box and feed it back through the cowl panel (See Figure 12). Be sure that the battery is disconnected before you do this.

At the bottom of the cowl panel, you will see two metal pegs sticking up with rubber grommets on top (See Figure 13). It's not uncommon to have one or both still stuck inside the lower airbox. If they are inside the airbox, just make sure they are seated correctly (See Figure 19). Now remove the pegs securing the bottom of the cowl panel, the plastic expansion rivet at the top right and the two crews along the upper left (See Figures 14, 15 and 16). Pull the weather stripping off the top edge of the panel and route the rear wiring harness grommet out of the groove along the top edge. Now simply remove the panel and set it aside.

At this point, you would need to either cut the panel or install the pre-cut panel. In our case, I cut a 6" diameter hole in the back using the bottom radius of the existing hole as a start point (See Figure 17). Ideally, you would want to use a hole saw to make the cut however the plastic is pliable enough to cut with a razor knife. NOTE: You may also need to cut an additional hole in the new panel for the driving light 12V source wire if not already cut.

Place the cowl panel back into position along the firewall and refit the expansion rivet, the grommet for the rear wiring harness (See Figure 18). Be sure to feed the 12V source wire though the panel and reattach it to the relay box. Now refit the mounting pegs along the bottom edge of the panel and pop the rubber grommets that were originally on top back into the lower airbox housing (See Figure 19).

Place the lower airbox back in place, popping the rubber grommets back over the mounting pegs. Then reinstall the ECU connectors and the 10mm bolt securing the harness to the airbox. Refit the lower plastic air hose into the airbox, making sure that the tab seats inside the airbox along with the peg in the side of the bracket. (See Figure 20). Now fit the rubber hose over the end of the plastic hose near the scoop and tighten the clamps securing it in place.

Now look at the upper rubber feed hose. On the very edge of it, you will see a small tab that indexes into the stock filter housing. You will need to cut this tab off in order for it to sit flush against the new filter shroud (See Figure 21).

Take the new filter shroud and place it on top of the lower airbox and secure it with the supplied screws. Take caution when tightening these screws as it is very easy to strip out the plastic threads (See Figure 22). On the left side of the shroud, install one of the screws at the top and fit the supplied weather-stripping to the top edge of the shroud. This stripping will seat against the bottom of the hood when closed, sealing the shroud off from heated air (See Figure 23).

Now fit the aluminum reducer ring in to the new filter so that the large side of the ring fits flush with the rubber edge and use the hose clamp to secure it (See Figure 24 and Figure 25). Now place the filter inside the filter shroud and slide the jump start terminal over the tab on the left side of the shroud (See Figure 26). Now maneuver the filter up and through the hole in the shroud so that the reducer ring fits into the end of the rubber feed hose. Secure the ring in place with a new hose clamp and you are finished (See Figure 27).

Shown here is the Cold Air Intake setup from MINI Madness.
Figure 1

Shown here is the Cold Air Intake setup from MINI Madness. This intake has been dyno tested to add at least 9hp on an otherwise stock MINI Cooper S. When you do any sort of induction work, such as a underdrive pulley or a free flow exhaust, a revised intake is something you should consider.

Loosen the hose clamp holding the upper air hose to the air filter housing.
Figure 2

Loosen the hose clamp holding the upper air hose to the air filter housing. The OEM MINI hose clamp uses a special tool to remove and re-attach the hose clamp, but a flat blade screwdriver will suffice in removal. In our case, we simply replaced the hose clamp with a traditional screw type.

Next, pull the rubber hose off the upper air filter housing.
Figure 3

Next, pull the rubber hose off the upper air filter housing.

Loosen the two mounting screws (green arrows) to gain access to the air filter underneath.
Figure 4

Loosen the two mounting screws (green arrows) to gain access to the air filter underneath.

Pull the jump start terminal up out of it's holder on the side of the air filter housing and slide it off the finger on the outside.
Figure 5

Pull the jump start terminal up out of it's holder on the side of the air filter housing and slide it off the finger on the outside. Keep in mind that the "finger" goes in between the two cables when you re-install it on the new air filter shroud.

Remove the upper air filter housing and the air filter is right underneath.
Figure 6

Remove the upper air filter housing and the air filter is right underneath. Remove the air filter from the lower housing.

Loosen the hose clamp securing the plastic lower air feed hose to the scoop on the radiator shroud (green arrow).
Figure 7

Loosen the hose clamp securing the plastic lower air feed hose to the scoop on the radiator shroud (green arrow).

Now locate the mounting tab inside the lower airbox (green arrow).
Figure 8

Now locate the mounting tab inside the lower airbox (green arrow). Press this tab and carefully remove the lower plastic air feed hose from the lower airbox housing.

Remove the 10mm bolt securing the wiring harness to the front of the lower airbox.
Figure 9

Remove the 10mm bolt securing the wiring harness to the front of the lower airbox. This bolt also is used as the front mounting point for the lower airbox and ECU housing (green arrow).

Remove the cover going to the ECU on the side of the airbox and remove the connectors.
Figure 10

Remove the cover going to the ECU on the side of the airbox and remove the connectors. The connectors simply release from the ECU when you slide back the plastic pin on the side (green arrows).

Now remove the lower airbox.
Figure 11

Now remove the lower airbox. Pull it forward and out of the engine compartment.

If you have added the auxiliary driving lights to your car, you will need to disconnect the power lead going to the relay box and feed it back through the cowl panel (green arrow).
Figure 12

If you have added the auxiliary driving lights to your car, you will need to disconnect the power lead going to the relay box and feed it back through the cowl panel (green arrow). Be sure you disconnect the battery before removing the 10mm bolt.

Remove the rubber airbox mounting grommets from the pegs underneath.
Figure 13

Remove the rubber airbox mounting grommets from the pegs underneath.

Loosen and remove the mounting pegs for the rear firewall panel.
Figure 14

Loosen and remove the mounting pegs for the rear firewall panel. Also pull the weather stripping off the top edge of the panel.

Remove the plastic mounting tab securing the panel to the firewall (green arrow).
Figure 15

Remove the plastic mounting tab securing the panel to the firewall (green arrow).

Remove the two screws holding the panel to the firewall on the left and remove the rear panel from the firewall.
Figure 16

Remove the two screws holding the panel to the firewall on the left and remove the rear panel from the firewall.

Shown here is the rear panel modified with a 6 hose drilled in the center.
Figure 17

Shown here is the rear panel modified with a 6" hose drilled in the center. This hole will help to feed the new cold air intake from the cowl panel.

Place the modified panel back on the firewall and reinstall the plastic retaining nut and also the two mounting pegs at the bottom.
Figure 18

Place the modified panel back on the firewall and reinstall the plastic retaining nut and also the two mounting pegs at the bottom.

Slide the rubber grommets onto the bottom of the lower airbox.
Figure 19

Slide the rubber grommets onto the bottom of the lower airbox.

lace the lower airbox back in place, popping the rubber grommets back over the mounting pegs.
Figure 20

Place the lower airbox back in place, popping the rubber grommets back over the mounting pegs. Then, reinstall the ECU connectors and the 10mm bolt securing the harness to the airbox. Lastly, re-fit the plastic lower air hose into the airbox housing and the air scoop on the radiator shroud.

Now cut off the mounting tab on the end of the upper air hose.
Figure 21

Now cut off the mounting tab on the end of the upper air hose. Since we are not using the upper airbox anymore, this tab will interfere with the fir of the new filter.

Now take the new airbox shroud and secure it to the front of the lower airbox using the supplied screws.
Figure 22

Now take the new airbox shroud and secure it to the front of the lower airbox using the supplied screws.

Secure the new shroud to the rear of the firewall (green arrow) and fit the two pieces of weather-stripping to the top of the shroud (yellow arrows).
Figure 23

Secure the new shroud to the rear of the firewall (green arrow) and fit the two pieces of weather-stripping to the top of the shroud (yellow arrows). Also re-fit the weather-stripping along the top edge of the rear panel.

Now take the new filter and the aluminum reducer ring.
Figure 24

Now take the new filter and the aluminum reducer ring. The larger portion will fit into the filter. Place the reducer ring in the filter so that the edge of the lip is flush with the edge of the filter.

Secure the reducer ring in place with the supplied hose clamp.
Figure 25

Secure the reducer ring in place with the supplied hose clamp.

Now slide the jumpstart terminal box over the mounting tab on the new shroud.
Figure 26

Now slide the jumpstart terminal box over the mounting tab on the new shroud.

Place the new filter inside the new shroud and fit the reducer end into the upper airbox hose.
Figure 27

Place the new filter inside the new shroud and fit the reducer end into the upper airbox hose. Secure the ring in placer with a hose clamp.

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Comments and Suggestions:
FrenchyR53 Comments: Good morning! Do you sell the rubber grommets shown in Figure 19. Mine seem to have hardened a bit and are creating rattling of the airbox.
March 19, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, we can get them for you.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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