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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 09-26-2011, 05:39 PM
Joe@Bavarian Joe@Bavarian is offline
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CAI - 101 / Should I do it?

Every few days we get the same question. So here are some reasons why most of us think you should not and the truth about horse power and what a C.A.I actually is.


What is a CAI?

A CAI is designed to increase the air flow at a cooler temperature for race applications.
CAI's have the filter located someplace other than the engine compartment. Meaning your filtering cooler outside air with increased volume before it reaches the hot engine bay.

Most people add it for looks or because they don't know any better.

If you have a filter attached to a pipe that is located under the hood as a kit, you will lose HP... This is not a CAI. This is a P.O.C (Piece of crap)



Will I get more HP with a CAI?

No... A CAI does not provide any noticeable HP gain when it stands alone. Although it will increase the HP that other components provide.

Example:

Port & Polished cyl head
performance free flow exhaust
performance throttle body
performance injectors
performance DME tune

So lets say you gained 100HP from these upgrades, now add the CAI and you would receive up to 10hp more "give or take" but you would need most of these upgrades before you added it.


Keep in mind,
Your stock air filter is placed as far away from the engine as possible and sealed in a plastic housing. The housing/air box has induction tubes that provide cooler outside air to be filtered at a lower temperature and is designed for optimal performance. Your stock engine is tuned with this in mind from BMW.



Now that you have graduated from "CAI - 101", use that $$ for better suspension components.
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  #2  
Old 09-26-2011, 05:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe@Bavarian View Post
and what a C.A.I actually is
Nicely said.

I can't change the links in the bestlinks closed posts, but I'll add a new link so that this shows up first, and foremost when people search for CAI in the bestlinks.

EDIT: Added these to the bestlinks so others benefit:

- CAI 101 should I do it or not (1) and which is better, stock or aftermarket cold air intake (1) (2) & a home-made CAI (1) & the general consensus on the effectiveness of an aftermarket CAI versus the stock BMW CAI (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) & how to reduce the risk of hydro lock (1) (2) & what about a K&N oiled air filter over the stock air filter (1) & a forced induction group buy (1) and adding nitrous oxide to your E39 (1) & links to suppliers to improve performance of your E39 (1)


Last edited by bluebee; 09-26-2011 at 05:51 PM.
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  #3  
Old 09-26-2011, 06:16 PM
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chiefwej chiefwej is offline
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One other thing that the OEM intake has over any CAI is a bypass to help prevent hydrolock destroying your engine. There are two air feeds into the air box. In addition to the main feed there is a small tube coming from the side in the wheel well which is there to break the suction and prevent the system from sucking up water like a soda straw. Doesn't always save you, but it's better than any aftermarket CAI.
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  #4  
Old 09-26-2011, 07:16 PM
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Good explanation and even better advice. Someone should bump this to the top of the queue once a month (at least) since there seems to be a $ucker born every minute.
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  #5  
Old 09-27-2011, 04:20 AM
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Flybot Flybot is offline
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Good. This question seems to be coming up a lot lately- "How can I get more HP for $50".

One minor comment, just to keep thing straight- A CAI does not "increase airflow at a cooler temperature". Cold air is more dense that hot air. Therefore it has more O2 per given volume. In other words, for the same intake pressure, you will have more O2 going to the cylinders, the MAFS will sense this, and you get more fuel, thus more power.

So it may be more accurate to say "A CAI attempts to provide a source of cooler, more dense air." Which the stock system already does very well on both I6 and V8.
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  #6  
Old 09-27-2011, 06:31 AM
granlund granlund is offline
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Another thing to consider is that, since colder air is denser, the throttle needs to be slightly more closed for a requested torque from the driver. A more closed throttle means more restriction and a less efficient engine. In highway driving at constant speed this means that a CAI give you slightly worse fuel economy - warmer, less dense air give better fuel economy.

The throttle intake restriction is partially responsible for why diesels have better fuel economy - they are not throttled. The newer BMW Valvetronic (N54 etc.) engines uses this approach by opening the throttle plate fully and changes the torque level by valve lift.
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  #7  
Old 09-27-2011, 06:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by granlund View Post
Another thing to consider is that, since colder air is denser, the throttle needs to be slightly more closed for a requested torque from the driver. A more closed throttle means more restriction and a less efficient engine. In highway driving at constant speed this means that a CAI give you slightly worse fuel economy - warmer, less dense air give better fuel economy.

The throttle intake restriction is partially responsible for why diesels have better fuel economy - they are not throttled. The newer BMW Valvetronic (N54 etc.) engines uses this approach by opening the throttle plate fully and changes the torque level by valve lift.
Im not so sure about that theory.
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  #8  
Old 09-27-2011, 08:09 AM
granlund granlund is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flybot View Post
Im not so sure about that theory.
Which part of it?
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  #9  
Old 09-27-2011, 08:45 AM
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demas demas is offline
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Perhaps updating the E39 FAQ with a list of 'what is not recommended by the experienced' would be something to build on.

-Aftermarket CAI
-Non OEM intake filters
-Non Hella headlights
-Performance coil packs
-Bargain chip tunes
-Hyped up spark plugs
-Words of advice on the 'I want a massive drop but a comfortable ride' dilemma
-Words of advice on the 'I want a V8 so convince me its frugal' dilemma
-Words of advice on the 'I found a cheap M5 but have no real maintenance money, tell me it makes sense' dilemma

and on and on
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  #10  
Old 09-27-2011, 09:17 AM
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Flybot,

The phrase "partially responsible" is the key here. Pumping losses are essentially zero, compared with a petrol engine.

The major reason for the diesel efficiency is thermodynamic: diesel fuel has considerably more energy content than petrol, and the diesel, with its much higher compression ratio (20:1+) readily extracts this energy. Add a turbo, and efficiency further increases.
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  #11  
Old 09-27-2011, 09:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flybot View Post
Im not so sure about that theory.
I am.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by granlund View Post
Which part of it?
How about "ALL of it" ????
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  #12  
Old 09-27-2011, 09:51 AM
granlund granlund is offline
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I was referring to the pumping losses being smaller since we were discussing cold air intakes.
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  #13  
Old 09-27-2011, 04:56 PM
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There may be more pumping loss, but it must not be enough to matter, or to overcome the benefit of cold air. Otherwise Im going to patent a HAI (Hot Air Intake) "Cruise Flap" that will switch the intake air to heated air off of the radiator when on the highway. If gas mileage goes down with a CAI, then the manufacturers wouldn't be doing it. Too easy to fix.





.

Last edited by Flybot; 09-27-2011 at 04:58 PM.
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  #14  
Old 09-27-2011, 05:35 PM
granlund granlund is offline
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In a numbers war of horsepower and miles per gallon between manufacturers, every small incremental improvement counts. A cold air intake will provide the mfg. engine tuning team the ability to produce slightly more horsepower for the marketing division. A hot air intake the same for fuel economy. However, in this country we have historically obsessed about horsepower and not fuel economy, except for brief periods of time.

Some old carburetted cars had hot air flaps that drew air from over the exhaust manifold for the reason of better atomization of the fuel on cold starts.
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  #15  
Old 11-10-2011, 09:44 PM
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Yet another one today for PT Barnum ...
- E46 (1999 - 2006) > Intake 330ci

Quote:
Originally Posted by Henry613 View Post
Looking to put in an intake for my 2001 330cic. Which one is the best that gives the most horsepower?
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  #16  
Old 03-21-2012, 02:15 PM
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This came in today so I pointed them to here for the basics:
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > 528i upgrades?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GLN528i View Post
just bought my new E39 528i (1999) dark metallic blue, with about 200,000km on the clock ...

... from what ive read in terms of aftermarket parts, mainly intake (CAI or short ram) anything aftermarket doesnt really provide increase in HP its much more of a cosmetic upgrade

Is this entirely true?

lets say hypothetically i were to change the intake,exhaust and then a remapping to accommodate for the new parts,

realistically will there be an increase in performance, whether it be large or minimal?

or all in all should i wait it out and just supercharge this mother
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See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #17  
Old 07-22-2012, 07:08 PM
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This isn't CAI but it's related to so-called performance upgrades so I cross link so it will be found in the future:
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > E39 I6 Headers
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Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #18  
Old 07-22-2012, 08:14 PM
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Actually cold air intakes CAN show a gain on engines with restrictive/poorly designed OEM intakes. Fortunately the intakes on the various E39 engines are engineered pretty damn well ,minus the aesthetics, that an "upgrade" would be just for looks and sound.
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  #19  
Old 08-26-2012, 11:23 PM
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A somewhat related thread was posted today which has usable information:
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Performance Improvements

Quote:
Originally Posted by dousty1 View Post
After having searched all the threads it seems the majority of the opinion out there doesn't rate putting chips or cold air induction on to upgrade performance.

The vanos seals seem to be a common improvement gained by simply replacing them.

As I was chasing a little more performance is there any other opinions for an improvement to a standard 530i ?
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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #20  
Old 08-27-2012, 08:31 AM
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http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum....php?t=1883561
Quote:
Originally Posted by SneedSpeed View Post
Intake works like a champ! 377whp with the intake making 47 hp over the CSL intake.
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Last edited by Jason5driver; 08-27-2012 at 09:03 AM.
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  #21  
Old 09-22-2012, 07:46 PM
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This was posted today ... so I pointed him here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck p View Post
recently I purchased an 03 530i and I am looking to do a few minor performance upgrades. I was thinking a cold air intake, chip, and possibly exhaust. What are the best options out there for my car? I want to make sure I have the best available as far as quality and performance. Also are there any other things I could do performance wise other than what I stated before? My car is an auto so i'm not looking to do anything ridiculous, I just want a few tasteful upgrades to make it a little quicker.
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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #22  
Old 10-09-2012, 11:30 AM
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This was posted today:
Quote:
Originally Posted by doug773 View Post

Please share with us the pros and cons of supercharging a 540. Not super tune it, but just putting the very basic kit. The impact on day by day driveability, fuel burn etc.
I'm not considering rubber burning or flooring it all the time. Just some stretches from time to time.

Tks, doug!
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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #23  
Old 10-17-2012, 12:39 AM
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For the crosslinked record, engine horsepower upgrades were discussed in this thread today ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Varsity_Born View Post
Hey Guys I drive a 2000 528i and a good friend of mine suggested I drop a 350 small block into it. I really want to make horsepower but I don't have the money for it if you have any suggestions please say something, Also, I need to know if the small block would even fit I'd want my car to sound mean, please post back Thanks
So I pointed them here!
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Typing /engine F3 in the VERY best of E39 Links nets this, among others, intended to answer the original question before it was asked:
- What engine swaps are most recommended (1) (2) (3) & where to obtain a new or rebuilt head (1) replacement short block or long block (1) (2) & how to lift & remove the engine (1)

EDIT:
As for more power, see these:
- CAI 101 should I do it or not (1) and which is better, stock or aftermarket cold air intake (1) (2) & a home-made CAI (1) & the general consensus on the effectiveness of an aftermarket CAI versus the stock BMW CAI (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) & how to reduce the risk of hydro lock (1) (2) & what about a K&N oiled air filter over the stock air filter (1) & a forced induction group buy (1) and adding nitrous oxide to your E39 (1) & links to suppliers to improve performance of your E39 (1)
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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 10-17-2012 at 12:40 AM.
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  #24  
Old 11-05-2012, 06:13 PM
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Here's another one today that I pointed here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacdaddyQ View Post
What's the best cold air intake to put on a 540i?
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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #25  
Old 11-05-2012, 06:59 PM
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