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What is an Intake Manifold?

An intake manifold is the conduit responsible for channeling air and fuel mixture into an engine's cylinders, ensuring optimal combustion. Its design impacts engine efficiency and performance. By harmonizing airflow, it plays a pivotal role in your vehicle's power and responsiveness. How does its design affect your driving experience? Let's explore the intricate dance of air and fuel within your engine.
Troy Holmes
Troy Holmes

In an automobile engine, the intake manifold controls the air flow and gas mixture that is fed into the piston chambers of the motor. This component usually is found on the top portion of the motor. A proper intake is necessary to produce adequate torque and power.

The intake manifold is responsible for creating an explosive vapor from an air and fuel mixture. This vapor is pushed into the pistons through the intake valves of the heads on the motor. After the vapor fills the cylinder area, it is exploded with the spark from a spark plug, which causes the motor to turn. This process happens very quickly will all cylinders in the motor.

Special gaskets prevent leaks on intake manifolds.
Special gaskets prevent leaks on intake manifolds.

There are many types of intake designs. The type used typically depends on the specifications of motor. A well-designed intake can improve motor performance and overall horsepower because it determines how efficiently the fuel is delivered to the motor.

A high-rise intake manifold is a high-performance manifold often used in drag racing. This manifold provides an air-fuel mixture that creates a smooth response throughout the power band of the motor. High-rise intakes typically are used on large motors with manual carburetor fuel intake systems.

Most modern cars use electronic fuel injection (EFI) to power the motor. A special manifold is required for EFI type automobiles. This manifold is only responsible for adding air into the combustion chamber because the EFI system manages the fuel.

High performance intake manifolds are designed to increase horsepower.
High performance intake manifolds are designed to increase horsepower.

Replacing an intake manifold is a fairly simple process. It first requires the mechanic to remove the carburetor or electronic fuel injection system. This normally sits over the manifold area. Once this is removed, the manifold bolts can be removed, which will make it easy to lift off the motor.

Before replacing any manifold, the old gasket material must be removed from the motor area. This can be accomplished with a putty knife and mineral spirits. This material typically leaves a rough paper edge on the top of the motor when the old manifold is removed. This paper material will cause leaks if not completely removed.

Fuel injection systems supply fuel directly to the cylinders of a vehicle's engine.
Fuel injection systems supply fuel directly to the cylinders of a vehicle's engine.

A new intake must be installed with special intake manifold gaskets. These gaskets surround the holes between the manifold and the intake valves on the heads of the motor. The gasket ensures no leaks occur between the intake air fuel mixture and the cylinder heads.

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Discussion Comments

Vincenzo

@Melonlity -- good point and a leaking intake gasket is downright annoying and a lot of trouble to fix because removing an intake manifold is a fairly time consuming procedure. You can, by the way, often detect a leaking intake gasket as you will hear a clicking sound under the hood due to air escaping.

But, it's important not to confuse that gasket with another one. A good test is to use water on any suspect gaskets and watch to see if bubble forms when the engine is running. If so, you've got a gasket that needs to be replaced.

That process was a lot easier in the old days when engines weren't so complicated and covered with components. The difficulty of getting to gaskets to even test them underscores the original point -- take the time to do the gasket work right or you will regret it later.

Melonlity

Perhaps the most important part of this process is removing the old gasket completely and replacing it with a reliable one. It might not seem like a complicated thing to do and, really, it's not. However, that is one step you absolutely want to get right or you will regret it.

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    • Special gaskets prevent leaks on intake manifolds.
      By: Ruslan Kudrin
      Special gaskets prevent leaks on intake manifolds.
    • High performance intake manifolds are designed to increase horsepower.
      By: Kelly
      High performance intake manifolds are designed to increase horsepower.
    • Fuel injection systems supply fuel directly to the cylinders of a vehicle's engine.
      By: nui7711
      Fuel injection systems supply fuel directly to the cylinders of a vehicle's engine.
    • Car and truck engines use many types of gaskets -- including the intake manifold gasket -- that help prevent leakage of gases and fluids.
      By: Grigorij Ivankov
      Car and truck engines use many types of gaskets -- including the intake manifold gasket -- that help prevent leakage of gases and fluids.
    • High-rise intake manifolds are sometimes used on large engines with manual carburetor systems.
      By: Svjatoslav Tokarev
      High-rise intake manifolds are sometimes used on large engines with manual carburetor systems.