The Benefits of Aftermarket Intake Systems for Diesel Trucks


In the world of diesel pickups, performance and efficiency are paramount. Diesel truck enthusiasts are constantly seeking ways to enhance their vehicles, and one often-overlooked yet highly effective upgrade is the aftermarket intake system. In this article, we'll explore the manifold advantages of aftermarket intake systems for diesel trucks, focusing on how they can significantly improve air filtration, boost power, and enhance fuel efficiency. If you want to order an aftermarket intake, contact Tier One or call us at 602-399-5484 today!

Understanding the Stock Intake

Diesel trucks, renowned for their robustness and towing capabilities, are typically equipped with stock intake systems from the factory. However, before diving into the myriad benefits of aftermarket intake systems, it's essential to gain a comprehensive understanding of the limitations inherent in stock intake setups. These limitations shed light on why aftermarket upgrades are not only desirable but often necessary for diesel truck enthusiasts seeking improved performance.

Designed for Mass Production

Stock intake systems are primarily designed with mass production in mind. Automakers aim to strike a balance between performance, cost-effectiveness, and regulatory compliance. Consequently, stock intakes are often engineered to meet minimum requirements, leaving ample room for improvement.

Airflow Restriction

One of the most significant drawbacks of stock intake systems is their inherent airflow restriction. Manufacturers are constrained by space and cost considerations, resulting in the use of narrow and convoluted intake tubing. This design hampers the flow of air into the engine, limiting its ability to breathe efficiently.

Paper Air Filters

Stock intake systems commonly employ paper air filters. While these filters adequately capture large particles and contaminants, they are less effective at filtering smaller particles and often become restrictive as they accumulate dirt and debris. This compromises both air quality and engine performance.

Limited Filtration Efficiency

Another critical aspect to consider is filtration efficiency. Stock intake systems are designed to provide acceptable filtration within budget constraints. However, they may fall short when it comes to exceptional filtration performance, especially in dusty or challenging environments. Fine particulates can make their way into the engine, potentially leading to premature wear and reduced engine longevity.

Minimal Sound Enhancement

For enthusiasts who appreciate the auditory experience of their diesel engines, stock intake systems often leave much to be desired. These systems are designed to minimize engine noise, which can dampen the exhilarating sound of a powerful diesel engine. Aftermarket intake systems, on the other hand, can enhance the engine's roar, providing a more satisfying auditory experience.

Restricted Tuning Potential

Stock intake systems are generally not designed with extensive tuning capabilities in mind. They are pre-calibrated to suit a wide range of driving conditions and environments. For those seeking to fine-tune their engine's performance, whether for more power or better fuel efficiency, aftermarket intake systems offer greater flexibility in tuning.

Improved Air Filtration

When it comes to diesel truck engines, clean air is a precious commodity. The quality of air that enters the engine has a direct impact on its performance and longevity. Aftermarket intake systems shine in this regard, offering a significant enhancement in air filtration compared to stock intake setups. Let's delve deeper into how these systems achieve superior air filtration and why it matters.

Enhanced Filtration Efficiency

Aftermarket intake systems are equipped with performance air filters that take filtration efficiency to a whole new level. Unlike stock paper filters, which are designed to strike a balance between filtration and cost, aftermarket filters prioritize filtration performance without compromising on airflow.

These high-performance filters often feature multi-layered filtration media, which are engineered to capture a broader range of particles, including fine dust and contaminants that can be detrimental to the engine. As a result, even the tiniest impurities are prevented from entering the engine's delicate internals.

Extending Engine Life

The benefits of improved filtration efficiency extend beyond just clean air. They have a direct impact on the engine's lifespan and overall reliability. Here's how:

1. Reduced Wear and Tear: By effectively trapping contaminants, aftermarket intake systems minimize wear and tear on essential engine components such as cylinders, pistons, and valves. This reduction in friction and abrasion can lead to a longer-lasting engine.

2. Decreased Maintenance: A cleaner engine operates more efficiently and requires less maintenance. With fewer contaminants circulating within the engine, you'll find fewer deposits and sludge buildup, resulting in less frequent maintenance intervals.

3. Lower Repair Costs: Preventing damage caused by dirty air can save you from costly engine repairs down the road. Aftermarket intake systems act as a protective barrier, shielding your engine from the harmful effects of dust, dirt, and debris.

4. Improved Resale Value: A diesel truck with a well-maintained engine is more attractive to potential buyers. Investing in an aftermarket intake system not only enhances your truck's performance but can also increase its resale value by demonstrating your commitment to engine care.

Extended Filter Life

Additionally, many aftermarket intake systems come equipped with reusable air filters. These filters are designed to be washed, re-oiled, and reinstalled, making them an economical and eco-friendly choice. Over time, this feature can result in substantial cost savings compared to regularly replacing disposable stock paper filters.

Power Boost

Enhancing the power output of a diesel truck engine is a priority for many enthusiasts, and aftermarket intake systems play a pivotal role in achieving this goal. These systems are engineered to optimize airflow, eliminate restrictions, and fine-tune the air-fuel mixture, resulting in significant power gains. Let's delve into the details of how aftermarket intake systems boost the power of diesel pickups.

Increased Airflow

One of the fundamental principles of improving engine performance is to maximize the flow of air into the engine cylinders. Aftermarket intake systems accomplish this by addressing the restrictions present in stock intake setups.

Larger and Smoother Intake Tubes: Aftermarket intake systems feature larger and smoother intake tubes than their stock counterparts. This design promotes a more direct and efficient path for incoming air, reducing turbulence and minimizing the resistance that can hinder airflow.

Freeing the Throttle Body: In some cases, stock intake systems incorporate a smaller throttle body to control airflow. Aftermarket systems often include a larger throttle body or eliminate unnecessary restrictions, allowing for a more significant volume of air to enter the engine with each intake stroke.

Ram Air and Cold Air Intakes: Some aftermarket systems also utilize ram air or cold air intake designs. Ram air intakes capture the force of the vehicle's motion to pressurize incoming air, while cold air intakes draw in cooler outside air. Both approaches result in denser, oxygen-rich air, ideal for combustion.

Gains in Horsepower and Torque

With improved airflow, diesel truck owners can expect notable gains in both horsepower and torque. Here's how these enhancements benefit your vehicle:

Increased Horsepower: Horsepower represents the engine's ability to perform work over time. By delivering a more substantial volume of air to the engine, aftermarket intake systems enable a more robust combustion process, resulting in higher horsepower figures. These gains are particularly noticeable during acceleration and high-speed driving.

Enhanced Torque: Torque is the engine's twisting force, essential for tasks like towing and off-road driving. Aftermarket intake systems optimize the air-fuel mixture, improving torque output across the RPM range. This translates to improved low-end and mid-range torque, making your diesel truck more capable in various driving scenarios.

Improved Throttle Response: A byproduct of increased airflow is improved throttle response. Aftermarket intake systems reduce the lag between pressing the accelerator pedal and engine response, delivering a more immediate and engaging driving experience.

Fuel Efficiency Considerations

It's important to note that while aftermarket intake systems boost power, they can also lead to increased fuel consumption if not paired with appropriate tuning. To maintain or even enhance fuel efficiency, many enthusiasts combine aftermarket intake systems with reprogrammable engine control units (ECUs) or tuners. These devices allow for precise adjustments to the air-fuel ratio, ensuring that the engine operates at its most efficient state.

Enhanced Fuel Efficiency

Fuel efficiency is a critical consideration for diesel truck owners, whether they use their vehicles for daily commuting or heavy-duty hauling. Aftermarket intake systems offer a compelling solution for those looking to optimize their diesel pickup's fuel efficiency. In this section, we will explore how these systems contribute to improved fuel economy and the factors to consider.

Improved Combustion

Efficient combustion is at the core of fuel efficiency. Aftermarket intake systems play a pivotal role in enhancing combustion by providing a cleaner and more consistent air supply to the engine.

Cleaner Air: Aftermarket filters are designed to capture a wide range of contaminants, ensuring that only clean and particle-free air reaches the engine. Clean air allows for more efficient combustion, reducing the likelihood of incomplete burns that waste fuel.

Reduced Engine Deposits: Improved filtration also results in fewer deposits and carbon buildup within the engine. Clean internals maintain better combustion efficiency over time, preventing power-robbing carbon deposits that can accumulate on valves and cylinder walls.

Optimized Fuel-to-Air Ratio

Achieving the ideal air-fuel mixture is crucial for fuel efficiency. Aftermarket intake systems often work in conjunction with reprogrammable engine control units (ECUs) or tuners, allowing for precise tuning of the fuel-to-air ratio.

Fine-Tuning: With the ability to fine-tune the air-fuel ratio, diesel truck owners can ensure that their engines operate at the most efficient point on the stoichiometric curve. This minimizes fuel wastage and maximizes power production.

Adaptive Tuning: Some modern aftermarket systems feature adaptive tuning, which can adjust the air-fuel ratio in real-time based on driving conditions. This ensures optimal performance and fuel efficiency in various scenarios, such as highway cruising or heavy towing.

Reduced Throttle Lag

Throttle lag, the delay between pressing the accelerator pedal and the engine's response, can affect fuel efficiency. Aftermarket intake systems enhance throttle response, reducing lag and promoting smoother acceleration.

Smarter Throttle Control: With improved airflow and tuning, the engine can respond more quickly to changes in throttle input. This means that the engine can operate in a more fuel-efficient manner by delivering power precisely when needed.

Easier Load Management: For diesel trucks used for towing, reduced throttle lag means better load management. The engine can adapt more efficiently to changes in load, reducing unnecessary fuel consumption during acceleration and deceleration.

Real-World Benefits

The benefits of enhanced fuel efficiency offered by aftermarket intake systems extend beyond cost savings at the pump. Here's what you can expect:

Savings Over Time: Improved fuel efficiency translates to fewer trips to the gas station and reduced fuel costs, especially for diesel owners who cover long distances or operate their vehicles under heavy loads.

Environmental Impact: Reduced fuel consumption also means a smaller carbon footprint. Improved fuel efficiency is not only cost-effective but also environmentally responsible.

Extended Range: With better fuel efficiency, your diesel truck can cover more miles on a single tank of fuel, providing increased range and flexibility for your journeys.

Installation and Compatibility

When considering aftermarket upgrades for your diesel truck, ease of installation and compatibility are crucial factors to weigh. Aftermarket intake systems excel in both areas, making them a practical choice for enthusiasts of varying skill levels. In this section, we will delve into the user-friendly installation process and the broad compatibility of these systems with various diesel truck models.

User-Friendly Installation

One of the standout features of aftermarket intake systems is their user-friendly installation process. Whether you're a seasoned DIY mechanic or a novice enthusiast, these systems are designed with simplicity and clarity in mind.

Comprehensive Instructions: Most manufacturers provide detailed and step-by-step installation guides with their aftermarket intake kits. These guides are often accompanied by illustrations and diagrams, making the process easy to follow.

Basic Hand Tools: You won't need a fully equipped garage to install an aftermarket intake system. In most cases, a basic set of hand tools, including wrenches, sockets, and screwdrivers, is sufficient to complete the installation.

Bolt-On Design: Aftermarket intake systems are typically designed as bolt-on upgrades, which means they are engineered to fit seamlessly into your truck's existing engine bay. This eliminates the need for complex modifications or custom fabrication.

No Welding or Cutting: Unlike some aftermarket modifications that require welding or cutting, installing an aftermarket intake system involves simple bolt-on connections. This ensures that your truck's structural integrity and appearance remain intact.


Another significant advantage of aftermarket intake systems is their broad compatibility with a wide range of diesel truck models. Whether you drive a Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, GMC, or another brand, there's a good chance that an aftermarket intake system is available for your specific vehicle.

Model-Specific Kits: Many aftermarket manufacturers offer model-specific intake kits, ensuring a precise fit for your truck. These kits are engineered to match the dimensions and specifications of your vehicle's engine bay.

Universal Fit Options: In addition to model-specific kits, there are also universal fit aftermarket intake systems available. These kits may require some minor adjustments or modifications during installation but provide flexibility for truck owners with less common or custom setups.

Compatibility Checks: Before purchasing an aftermarket intake system, it's advisable to check the manufacturer's website or consult with a trusted retailer to confirm compatibility with your diesel truck's year, make, and model.

Customization and Upgrades

Beyond the basic installation process, aftermarket intake systems offer room for customization and additional upgrades, allowing you to tailor your truck's performance to your preferences.

Tuning Options: Many aftermarket systems come with or are compatible with reprogrammable ECUs or tuners. These devices allow you to fine-tune your truck's performance by adjusting parameters like the air-fuel ratio and ignition timing.

Filter Choices: Aftermarket intake systems often allow you to choose from various filter types and brands. This customization lets you select a filter that aligns with your specific filtration needs and performance goals.

Aesthetic Enhancements: Some enthusiasts appreciate the aesthetic improvements that aftermarket intake systems can bring to the engine bay. Polished aluminum or carbon fiber intake tubes can add a touch of style to your truck's appearance.

Maintenance and Longevity

When it comes to upgrading your diesel truck, considerations for long-term maintenance and longevity are paramount. Aftermarket intake systems not only enhance performance but also offer features that promote durability and ease of maintenance. In this section, we'll explore how these systems contribute to the longevity of your diesel pickup.

Reusable Filters

One of the standout features of aftermarket intake systems is the inclusion of reusable air filters. Unlike stock paper filters that require replacement at regular intervals, reusable filters can be cleaned and re-oiled, extending their lifespan and reducing long-term maintenance costs.

Cleaning Process: Cleaning a reusable filter is a straightforward process. Typically, it involves gently tapping or brushing off loose debris and then washing the filter element with a specialized cleaning solution. Once dry, the filter is re-oiled with a filter oil kit, which is often included with the intake system.

Cost Savings: Over the life of your diesel truck, the savings from not having to purchase disposable paper filters can be substantial. Reusable filters pay for themselves over time and contribute to a more eco-friendly approach by reducing filter waste.

Consistent Filtration: Reusable filters maintain their filtration efficiency throughout their lifespan, ensuring that your engine receives clean air at all times. This consistency is crucial for preserving engine health and longevity.

Durable Materials

Aftermarket intake systems are designed with durability in mind. They are constructed using high-quality materials that can withstand the rigors of daily driving, off-road adventures, and challenging environmental conditions.

Premium Components: These systems often feature components such as intake tubes, couplers, and clamps made from materials like heat-resistant polyethylene or aluminum. These materials are resistant to corrosion and can endure exposure to heat and moisture.

Powder Coating: Some aftermarket intake systems also incorporate powder-coated components. Powder coating enhances the durability of parts by providing an extra layer of protection against rust and wear, ensuring long-lasting performance.

Off-Road Readiness: For diesel truck owners who venture off-road, the durability of aftermarket intake systems is a significant advantage. These systems are engineered to withstand the vibrations, jolts, and impacts encountered during off-road excursions.

Warranty Coverage

Many reputable aftermarket intake system manufacturers offer warranty coverage for their products. These warranties can vary in duration and terms, so it's essential to review them before making a purchase. A warranty provides peace of mind and assurance that the manufacturer stands behind the quality and durability of their product.

Typical Warranty Coverage: Warranty coverage for aftermarket intake systems often includes protection against defects in materials and workmanship. Some warranties also cover filter elements for a specified duration.

Proper Installation: To ensure that your warranty remains valid, it's crucial to follow the manufacturer's installation instructions carefully. Any deviations from the recommended installation process may void the warranty.

Extended Peace of Mind: The presence of a warranty underscores the confidence that manufacturers have in the longevity and performance of their products. It offers truck owners extended peace of mind, knowing that they are protected against unforeseen issues.

Regular Inspection and Maintenance

To maximize the longevity of your diesel truck and its aftermarket intake system, regular inspection and maintenance are essential. Here are some tips:

Inspect for Loose Connections: Periodically check clamps, couplers, and tubing connections to ensure they are secure. Vibrations from driving can sometimes cause components to become loose.

Monitor Filter Condition: Keep an eye on the condition of the air filter. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for cleaning and oiling the filter element. Clean or replace it as needed, depending on driving conditions.

Visual Inspection: Routinely inspect the entire intake system for signs of wear, damage, or debris accumulation. Cleaning any foreign material and addressing wear promptly can prevent long-term issues.

Add Comment