Project Camaro: Part 2 – Breathing Easier with a Borla Exhaust and AEM Air Intake System


The AEM intake kit for the 3.6L V6 Chevrolet Camaro contains more than just pipes, clamps and a filter. The design and engineering of the kit focused not only on achieving performance gains, but also keeping the engine bay neat and tidy. Since the filter location wants to occupy the space of the stock washer fluid reservoir a new molded plastic tank and mounting bracket are included. The kit also displaces the MAF sensor and washer fluid reservoir pump from their stock locations, so extension wiring harnesses with OEM mating connectors are supplied.

AEM air intake systems all come with very detailed photographic instruction packets. Their instructions are also available to view online, so the extent of vehicle tear down necessary for installation can be understood before one even moves to make a purchase. For that reason, lots of the steps in the process won’t be detailed here. Instead we focused on what really mattered, confirming the performance numbers.

The stock Camaro intake was easily removed in just a couple of minutes. The engine beauty cover was first pulled out of the way and the MAF sensor unplugged. Then the stock filter box was opened up to access mounting bolts. With a loosening of the clamp on the throttle body and a few twists of the wrench on our air box mounts the intake was free.
The MAF sensor was removed from the stock intake and inserted into the mounting flange incorporated in the AEM piping with the included fasteners. It was important not to be too aggressive when installing the MAF sensor as it could only insert one way. If the sensor was shoved on backwards it would most certainly trigger a MIL (Malfunction Indicator Light).
The washer fluid reservoir required some preparation before being ready for vehicle installation. The black powdercoated mounting bracket was attached to its mounting nipple prior to securing the tank with the included nuts. One last step was to transfer over the washer fluid pump from the stock tank to the AEM tank, but first it needed to be removed from the vehicle.

Accessing the stock washer fluid tank required going through the driver’s side fender well. Removing the wheel, a few Torx screws and a panel mounting tab supplied plenty of hand access to unplug the pump harness as well as disconnect the pump hose. Care had to be taken not to spill washer fluid all over, but quick finger work with a plug kept the exit flow in check.

The new AEM washer fluid tank mounted against the side of the driver’s side shock tower. The wiring extension harnesses included with the kit allowed for the possibility to easily revert back to the stock setup as well as eliminated the unpleasant look of cut and spliced wiring.
After the installation of the intake tubing, clamps and filter the components could be adjusted for clearances and then tightened down. All wiring was routed with zip ties, plugs were plugged, washer fluid was replaced and the fender well buttoned back up. The engine beauty cover remained off for dyno testing however.
The moment of reckoning was finally upon us. Would the new intake make a difference in performance? While the Camaro spun the dyno rollers for its next round of pulls, MotoIQ chief nerd Mike Kojima manned the computer while I looked on with my future car geek absorbing through osmosis.
The final numbers resulted in a peak power output of 247 hp and 231 ft-lbs of peak torque. That amounted to an increase of 14 hp over stock, not bad at all. Most importantly though, the AEM intake offset the entire power and torque curves upward. The increased area under the curves means more power all throughout the engine’s RPM range. Things were defiintely breathing easier. In the above graph the black run was in stock form, blue with exhaust only and red was exhaust plus intake.

All in all both bolt on packages, exhaust and intake, required just 2 hours to install. That even included the setup time on the dyno. It was a worthwhile way to spend an afternoon for a little more pep under the seat.

Next up the Camaro is clamoring for more stopping power, but who am I kidding? The next modification will be an infant car seat.

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