Product Review: aFe’s Tundra 5.7L V8 Air Intake
Advanced Flow Engineering, or aFe, has been making performance air intakes for a variety of popular vehicles since 1999. During that time, aFe products have gained a reputation for offering noticeable performance gains for an affordable price. Basically, after market air intakes add power by eliminating the factory air intake “silencer”, a baffle chamber that removes resonance in the intake that serves to reduce engine noise, and they increase airflow by replacing the cheap factory air filter with a high-flow unit (read more about why air intakes work). We contacted aFe and requested an air intake to review for the 5.7 Tundra, and they sent one along right away. Here’s our review:
A great photo of the air intake fully assembled.
The kit came in a nicely decorated box and the most important part, the air filter, was carefully packaged. aFe also packed the top cover of the air box in plastic in order to protect it from scratches, etc. We wouldn’t want the flashiest part of the intake system getting bunged up, would we? aFe’s kit also comes with a washable and reusable air filter that does a nice job of filling up the air box. aFe offers two types of filters on this kit – an oil free model, and the traditional cotton gauze oil filter (shown and reviewed here). aFe’s own testing shows that their kit will flow 50% more air than the stock air box, a tremendous increase in air flow. Considering the size of the filter, that’s not hard to believe. A funny note – a casual inspection of the outside of the box led a couple of people to believe the kit was adding 19 hp and 117 lb-ft of torque! Incredulous, we looked more closely and realized all the dyno results on the outside of the box had nothing to do with our kit – they’re for different models (a Duramax, a Cummins, etc.). So, the moral is, don’t get excited when you look at the numbers on the box without reading to find out what type of vehicle they were added to.
Make sure to look at the numbers on the the aFe air intake box carefully, or you’ll be in for quite a shock!
Installing these air intake kits is pretty simple – you’ll need to remove the stock air intake tube, the stock air filter and air box, and make sure to disconnect the MAF sensor and a couple of hoses. Pull the MAF sensor out of the stock air tube and insert it into the pre-drilled slot on the AEM tube, screw it down in the pre-drilled holes using the provided screws and washers, then simply reverse the removal process. A couple of notes – the instructions provided by aFe don’t tell you to install the provided grommet on the fender inlet. They also don’t mention that you should remove the mounting hardware from the stock air box and use that for the aFe box. As usual, the instructions on this after market part were less than perfect (it looks like they’re for a 99-06 Tundra). They’re good enough, but they could definitely be improved. In any case, an experienced installer with the right tools can pull the stock system out and mount the new system in less than 20 minutes. A home mechanic shouldn’t need more than an hour.
Fit and finish is good – all the parts go together well enough. The only issue is that the seal between the fender air inlet and the aFe air box isn’t perfect. It’s decent – definitely good enough – but it’s not perfect. Since this was something we dinged the Volant kit for when we reviewed the Volant intake back in October, it bears mentioning. The gap is small – maybe an 1/8th of an inch – and it goes all the way around the inlet. If we played with the fender inlet grommet and the air box, we could get a good seal. However, it felt like it would eventually work it’s way loose. We don’t think this is important for a few reasons. First of all, aFe’s kit pulls air from both the fender inlet AND the engine compartment (there’s a big hole in the front of the air box for this purpose), so a perfect seal on the inlet wouldn’t really matter anyway – you’re still getting warm engine compartment air mixed in. We spoke to aFe’s Jason Bruce about this, and his response was pretty enlightening.
Basically, the Tundra’s fender inlet can’t provide enough air to the aFe kit by itself. In order to get enough air to really improve performance at the top end, the kit is designed to pull air from the engine compartment using the hole in the front of the aFe air box. Jason was quick to point out that in this situation (near top RPMs), the vehicle is moving down the road and air is flowing into the engine compartment, so heat isn’t really an issue. While it is true that warm air mixes with cool intake air while the truck is stationary, that’s not terribly important. After all, no one is concerned about increasing horsepower and torque while the vehicle is at idle. aFe’s explanation makes a lot of sense, and their kit performed well enough to make us believers.
Our tests show that the aFe kit, despite pulling air from the engine compartment and the less than perfect fender inlet fit, performs quite well (see below). Also, unlike the Volant air intake kit we tested, there’s no problem with the new air tube displacing the factory engine cover. aFe also pre-drilled the MAF sensor mounting holes in their tube for us, something that Volant skipped. Comparing the aFe kit to the Volant kit, the overall quality on the aFe kit was higher, despite the fact that neither kit perfectly seals to the fender air inlet.
Before and after the aFe air intake is installed on the 5.7 Tundra.
As expected, the aFe air intake looks and sounds MUCH better than the stock system. There’s a nice aluminum cover on top of the intake that adds a little bit of shine to the engine compartment, not to mention the awesome improvement in engine noise. Inside or outside the truck, during idle, and even during steady cruising, there’s not much difference in engine noise. However, when you jump on the throttle you can definitely hear the engine growl. Make sure to watch the video below to hear the sounds of the aFe air intake.
Finally, we come to the most important part of the review process, the performance testing. Our test vehicle, a 2008 5.7L Tundra with about 150 miles on it, was noticeably quicker in terms of throttle response. Our dyno test results showed solid horsepower gains in both 3rd gear and 4th gear tests, confirming what our minds told us as we drove the truck around town. Dyno testing being what it is, it’s always hard to count on specific numbers. We saw about a 9 hp gain around 4,850 RPM and 10 hp around 4,250 RPM (both at the rear wheel). aFe’s own testing showed a 19 hp gain at 3900 RPM. We had difficulty testing the truck reliably at 3900 RPM because the Tundra’s transmission likes to shift at that point. Still, it’s a safe bet this intake will add at least 5hp to your truck (at the wheels), and 19hp may be possible.
Click image for a larger view.
Bottom Line: We like aFe’s kit – it’s simple, reasonably priced (AutoAnything sells them for about $350), and the quality is good. Picking up 5-10 rear wheel horsepower is always good, not to mention this kit’s great sound and looks. Combine this intake with a nice exhaust system and you should see another 5 or so rear wheel hp.
When it comes to the Tundra 5.7, we recommend the aFe air intake over the Volant air intake for the following reasons: aFe’s kit doesn’t require you to use self-tapping screws to install the MAF sensor (which looks and feels cheap), and it fits correctly with the factory engine cover. Both kits exhibited decent performance gains, and they both sounded great. Assuming you can get the two kits for about the same price (which is true at the time of this posting), the aFe kit makes more sense than the Volant. That’s not to take anything away from Volant – it’s just not quite as nice. Simple as that.
Filed Under: Toyota Tundra Accessories