The Cold-Air Conundrum
Question: “I just bought a Mustang and my friend told me I should get a cold air intake as my first mod, but I’m new to cars and I was wondering what a cold air intake is and how it helps my car.”
This is a great question, and one I hear almost daily. Cold-air intakes are great first mods because their easy installation makes them a perfect DIY project. Before we delve into the details, let’s start with the basics. Your stock intake consists of the airbox, the mass air-flow sensor (aka “MAF”), and the air inlet tube that connects to the throttle body. The airbox houses the air filter and in some cases the MAF. An AmericanMuscle Mustang air filter removes moisture and particulates like dust and pollen from your Stang – all things you don’t want in your engine. Once the air is clean and dry, it’s the MAF’s responsibility to tell the computer how much air the engine is getting, which is why your car won’t run (well) without it. With the cleaning, drying, and measuring out of the way it’s just a short trip up the inlet tube to the throttle body and into the engine. Seems pretty simple, right? Well it is, but let’s see how an aftermarket intake differs from stock, and how that affects your Pony. (more…)
Question: What’s the difference between the various octane ratings for gasoline?
Answer: It isn’t a stretch to say our daily lives depend on gasoline; we rely on it for transportation and, for many AM employees and customers, for recreation as well. So it would seem logical that we would know a bit about the smelly stuff that supports our modern “get up and go” lifestyles, but gasoline octane is one of the top 10 things we get questions about.
It’s all In the Numbers…
Image from azdot.gov
Depending on where you live, you may see anything from 85 to 93 octanes when you pull up to the pump, but what do those numbers really mean for your Mustang fuel system? Octane is the measure of a fuel’s resistance to knock, aka detonation. The number on the pump is known as the “Anti-Knock Index” or AKI number, and is the average of the RON (Research Octane Number) and MON (Motor Octane Number). The research octane number is obtained by running the fuel in a test engine under “low load”, controlled conditions and is typically a few points higher than MON. Motor octane is found by running a preheated sample of the same fuel in a similar test engine at higher speeds with variable ignition timing, pushing the fuel to its limits. These results are compared to mixtures of iso-octane (100 octane) and n-heptane (0 octane), giving them their octane rating.
Question: What is a Traction-Lok differential and how will it help me?
Picture Courtesy of MustangHeaven.com
Answer: This is a great question! A differential upgrade is practically a requirement for anyone looking to tear it up at the strip, so let’s start with some basics: the differential (aka “rear end”, “rear”, or “pumpkin”) is that roundish thing that sits between your rear axles; it’s responsible for transferring power from the driveshaft to the rear wheels and allowing the wheels to spin at different speeds when going around turns. With a job that important it’s easy to see why having a bullet-proof rear is so crucial for serious racers.
Component Confusion Part I: Spark-ing Controversy
Question: How do I know if I need to upgrade my spark plugs?
NGK Iridium IX Performance Spark Plugs
These days it seems there are ten different spark plug variants for every one vehicle application – what’s up with that? What happened to the days when a car had more cylinders than spark plug options? When I started researching this topic I soon found myself up to my eyeballs in new and different spark plug technologies and pages upon pages explaining how they would indeed make your car better, faster, and stronger. Many brain cells were sacrificed trying to distill the abundance of information into something concise and effective but fear not! Those little neurons didn’t die in vain! (more…)
Fluid Factoids Part I: The Mystery of Motor Oil – Synthetic vs Conventional
Question: How do I know what type of engine oil is right for my car?
If you Google this topic you’ll get thousands of different answers from thousands of different sources. The debate over engine oil has been raging for decades and spans far beyond the age-old “synthetic vs. conventional” dispute. Oil is the lifeblood of your engine and without it–well… you know what can happen. So if you’ve ever found yourself standing in front of the “wall ’o’ oil” at the local parts place with a blank stare and a puddle of drool slowly accumulating under you, then hopefully this article will help make your next oil purchase a little less er… drooly. (more…)