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DIY: Made my own $60 "true" cold air intake for my 3.5 EB (reduce REUSE recycle).


pdxgeek

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Greetings!

I am big into the "reuse" aspect of "reduce reuse recycle". As such, I always try to look ways to re-purpose old items that still have life in them. With that in mind, I set out to build an intake for my 5th gen that didn't cost a fortune, and hopefully might help some of you save some money as well.

Notes:
  • First, I have a 3.5 EB PIU. I realize this accounts for only 4% of all PIUs nationwide, which means that my configuration is an even smaller percentage of all the Explorers out there. I don't know if there are items missing/moved/etc in mine vs others, but I imagine its close regardless.
  • Second, I know intakes are really more of an audible cosmetic mod, at least with Ford's DI/DBW engine management. Don't care, I love the sound of turbos spooling through an aftermarket intake, and there were some benefits I list at the end of the build.
  • Lastly, I did use my 3D printer to build a temp sensor bung for the intake. This equates to an hour or so of my time for the design, but only about $1 in PETG plastic (including mock-up/early test versions). I know that this is not something that is readily accessible by everyone. However, I will provide a link to that file for anyone who wishes to use it, free of charge, as a gift to the community. :) I will also print a bung for anyone who requests one for a small fee (enough to cover time, printing, electricity, and shipping). I promise it will be cheap as I can afford to make it, I don't want to make any profit on this.

So lets begin:

First, I needed the main intake pieces. Initially, I looked into aluminum piping on eBay and amazon. There are options there of course, but more than I wanted to spend, and that doesn't really fit into my "reduce/reuse/recycle" mantra here. So I went off to Craigslist, OfferUp, Facebook Marketplace, etc. to look for old intakes for other vehicles. This is a gold mine for used auto parts, especially old performance auto parts.

I needed to find something that had bends that would work, was the correct size (3" or larger ID), and minimal items or issues that would need to be fixed/modified. A little more difficult than just finding any old intake, but not too difficult. What you are looking for is something with at least 12"-18" of straight, with at least one 90* bend at the end of that straight, basically like a capital "L"

With that in mind, I finally found a great candidate. This is a Volant intake for a 02-05 Jeep Liberty 3.7L, with a splash/heat shield. I was able to grab it for $40 off OfferUp.


Picture of other side.


This was perfect for a number of reasons:
  • First, it was 3.0"/3.5" ID/OD.
  • Second, it had the angles I wanted.
  • Third, there are two sensor/nipples on this intake. The nipple is in the perfect spot for putting the air temp sensor. The other sensor hole is on the other bend, and I will be plugging this hole up during this process.
  • Lastly, it was made of ABS, which required no painting and minimal post modifying cleanup, and is super easy to work with, with the added benefit of not heat soaking nearly as quick as aluminum, with the downside of having a more muted sound than a metal intake would provide.

First, I cut off the nipple off the intake, and used a 1" hole saw where the nipple used to be. This is where the temperature sensor bung will go.



Next, I needed to 3D print a new bung for the temperature sensor. Using the stock plug as a guide, and armed with some calipers, I created my first "mockup" version.




I also took this time to measure out how long my main intake piece would need to be, and also mark a line for cutting later. A rubber band worked great for both of these tasks. It made it easy to make straight line (and adjust easily), as well as mark the line just by running a sharpie along the rubber band. I wanted to cut to be straight, but also leave enough space on the elbow I was cutting off to be able to add a coupler.



V2 of the bung. I modeled it with contours for both the inside and outside of the pipe so it fits flush both inside and out with the curve of the pipe. I also added the guards and tab to prevent twisting too much like the OEM bung.



Sitting nice and flush on/in the pipe




Alright, time for testing fit of the first piece aka "short ram intake mode". Fit great, plenty of room! The temperature sensor is pretty much in the exact same spot as previously.
NOTE: I used a plumbing coupler as a temp piece just to test fitment. Do not use these for actual in engine bay use. They get super soft and start degrading with heat.
NOTE 2: I reinstalled the snorkel from the factory air box (after removing it from factory air box) to use a rest temporarily for the intake. This is not a necessary step, and the snorkel is removed before final assembly as its not needed anymore at that point. It is not easy to remove from the factory air box as well, so don't bother with this unless you feel you absolutely need to.



That leaves the other elbow we cut off, which will direct the intake into the bumper area in front of the drivers tire. I printed a plug for the jeep sensor hole, but a 3M Window Welded grommet or something similar would have worked as well.



Speaking of 3M Window Weld, that's how the the plug and bung are attached. You will need an adhesive that will stand up to hot temperatures. Something like hot glue is not enough and your bung will fall out. I happened to have Window Weld left over from another project, and decided it would be the best of what I had on hand, but it might be a little overkill.
 
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pdxgeek

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Part 2:

Now the real fun part. Since the intake will be crossing over some of the wire harness, I added some additional protection to those sections of wire. Granted, this isn't really necessary, the intake didn't really touch these cables and they have wire loom on them, but I am always for being safe than sorry.



Knowing that space is limited, I assembled the last section of the intake prior to getting under the vehicle. This allowed me to position the shield for optimal air flow/splash protection before feeding it up to the engine bay.


I fed the filter and elbow through the bottom after detaching some of the under-body tray on the driver's side. Using a strip of plumbers tape, I mounted the filter and elbow piece to one of the original intake tray mounting bolts.


And all together! My 3.5" ID silicone couplers finally arrived from Amazon to assemble (this was during the mass flooding in the midwest a couple months ago). While blue wasn't my first choice, it does match the car, and I was able to get 4 of these couplers for $8 shipped, and 6x 4" worm clamps for $3 more. If I had used black couplers, this would almost look factory. I may change those out one day, but not in a hurry for that and these work fine (reduce lol).




Additionally, I needed one more section of straight pipe here to attach the two pieces of the original intake. Do you know what else has 3.5" OD/3" ID piping, and stands up to high heat (unlike the rubber coupler above), and is the same material pretty much as the intake? Standard ABS piping. I bought a 2' section for $8 at Home Depot, cut to length, and added bevels to the inside edges of the ABS pipe just for some extra reduction in turbulence. This was one of the best reasons to grab an intake made of ABS/plastic. I could get straight pieces for relatively cheap from an easily accessible source, along with that it can stand up in high heat, and doesn't heat soak nearly as fast. I sanded and painted the outside of the ABS pipe with flat black paint, until it matched the rest of the intake at least closely in color/texture. This is a purely aesthetic step, and not necessary, but did make the intake look more uniform.

After final test fit, I removed all the pieces, ran a t-shirt through each of the pipes multiple times, washed with soapy water, and air-dried them with a compressor to remove any potential leftover debris/material that may remain after the build. I highly recommend you do this. You do not want any flakes or debris flying into your turbo or engine, plastic or otherwise.

In Total:
  • $40 - 02-05 Jeep Liberty Volant intake with filter shield (OfferUp)
  • $8 - 4 x 3.5" ID silicone couplers (Amazon Prime)
  • $8 - 2' section of 3.0"/3.5" ABS piping (Home Depot)
  • $3 - 6 x 4" worm clamps (Amazon Prime)
  • $1 - PETG material used for 3D printed parts (Amazon Prime)
  • $0 - 3M Window Weld (overkill likely as an adhesive, but I already owned tubes of this from another project).

Total cost: $60
Not spending nearly $300 for a short intake masquerading as a cold air intake and reducing waste: Priceless.


I even had some unused leftover parts for that $60 spent:
~1' of ABS piping
1 x 3.5" silicone coupler.
1 x 3.5" to 2.5" silicone reducer coupler (unused piece from Volant intake).

I have driven ~3k miles with this setup, and these are my observations:
  • Spool up sound is glorious, especially on gravel or windy roads with small hills where you will be spooling up a lot.
  • Slightly better response on take off/accelerating. Fiance mentioned this without me asking her about it, and I had noticed it as well.
  • Intake temps (pre-turbo) have gone down about 10-15*F over the stock intake according to Forscan logs. Intake 2 temps (post turbo/intercooler) have not really changed, but that's not unexpected with the size/position of the intercooler on the EB Explorers.
  • Filter is a little bit dirty but still very functional. Not the original that came with it from 15+ years ago thankfully, but I plan to replace or clean at next oil change.
  • I could extend the filter down another 6-8 inches easily with space afforded and the spare parts I have left over, but I feel its low enough and its already outside the engine bay. No reason to tempt fate by putting it closer to the ground at this time.
  • I could also replace the fog light blank on the drivers side with a fog light cover sans the actual fog light, and send even more fresh air directly to the filter. Have seen no reason to do this so far, but may change my mind.
Feel free to add any comments or questions, I would be happy to answer them.

Bonus pic to show why i dont mind the couplers too much:
 
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peterk9

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The only picture I see is in the first post (Part 1) and titled "Picture of other side".

Peter
 








pdxgeek

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Weird, they all show up for me, and they are all hosted on this site?

If they aren't working by tomorrow AM, I'll re-host tomorrow on imgur.
 
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peterk9

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Weird, they all show up for me, and they are all hosted on this site?

If they aren't working by tomorrow AM, I'll re-host tomorrow on imgur.
The only way pictures are saved on the Forum's servers is if you have an Elite Explorer membership ($20).

Peter
 












ltdan84

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Awesome work! Just don't drive through any deep water, but you already knew that.
 








san~man

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I applaud you for your ingenuity, but in reality that's no better than a K&N.
 




pdxgeek

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I applaud you for your ingenuity, but in reality that's no better than a K&N.
Sure it is. I spent 1/5th price, didn't give K&N money for their overpriced parts, reduced waste, and have a better intake IMO.
 




peterk9

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Sure it is. I spent 1/5th price, didn't give K&N money for their overpriced parts, reduced waste, and have a better intake IMO.
But is it really better in performance?
 




Mr. Alligator

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Awesome.

Thank you for sharing.
 




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