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Chevrolet Cavalier Performance

driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
edited March 16 in Chevrolet
First, they don't allow cursing here, so edit your post, please.

RK Sport has everything you can imagine for Cavalier performance. NOPI also offers several things that will boost peak hp and torque.

Bear in mind, just about anything you do that's NOT RK Sport will trash your warranty. RK Sport is a GM subsidiary and their products don't affect the warranty when installed properly.


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,403
    #1 post was deleted for profanity. Poster was asking about inexpensive mods to increase performance on 2005 Cavalier without voiding warranty. Driftracer offers suggestions above.

    Poster also wondered about cold air intake. My research indicates that these don't work and that a cannister type (ram-effect) air filtration system would be much better. CAI only works on a cold day (as does your normal filter) and merely sucks warm air into your engine on a warm day, same as your regular filter.

    Any other suggestions for the Cavalier? post 'em here.



  • gmoudygmoudy Posts: 67
    “My research indicates that these don't work and that a cannister type (ram-effect) air filtration system would be much better. CAI only works on a cold day (as does your normal filter) and merely sucks warm air into your engine on a warm day, same as your regular filter.”

    I cannot believe you, as the Host, would post such a statement. A little history. In the earlier days, the air filter housing snorkel ended in the engine compartment. This being done, all you ever got was hot engine air. Later on they decided to route the input to the filter housing to outside the engine compartment. This provided much ‘cooler’ air compared to the engine compartment. Unfortunately, the manufacturers made the run not very straight and constrictive. If someone installs an aftermarket CAI, they will see an improvement. I know! I did not buy an aftermarket CAI, but took off the ‘S’ shaped intake in the fender well and now see an improvement in performance. The input to the filter housing is still in the fender well so that I get cooler air.
    True that Ram Air is the next step in getting even more performance boost. This system forces in even more cooler air than a CAI.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,403
    Well all I can tell you is that friends of mine have tested every CAI they can get their hands on, on a state of the art dynomometer, and they report no or miniscule results--period. They run a very successful tuning shop and don't even recommend the CAI systems on the market. They say cannister systems are the only way to get your money's worth, with the ram effect you talk about

    The logic of CAI escapes me, since the factory systems take in air right behind the grill anyway, and, even worse, on warm days a CAI is sucking in warm air just as warm as a factory system.

    The supposed "non-restrictive" qualities of CAI systems create a lot more noise than horsepower. Possibly at very high rpms with a large displacement engine, you might gain a couple HP under very ideal conditions. Hardly worth the trouble IMO.

    Your experiment really supports the contention, in my mind, that CAIs arent' in fact worth the money, since some tuners report that by merely cutting a hole in the factory air box, they outperformed the CAI easily.


  • gmoudygmoudy Posts: 67
    First, I did not say that I cut a hole in the factory air box. On the Cavalier, the input to the air box is in the fender well, outside of the engine compartment. The input has an 'S' shaped input snorkel. Removing this gives a more easier air intake.
    Second, outside air is 'cooler' than engine compartment air. Some CAI systems do not exit the engine compartment. Those systems I would not buy. The systems that extend outside the engine compartment will receive the 'cooler' air.
    Third, the larger vehicles air intakes are right behind the grill. Most smaller vehicles route the systems to the fender well than right in back of the opening underneath the front headlights.

    "The supposed "non-restrictive" qualities of CAI systems create a lot more noise than horsepower. Possibly at very high rpms with a large displacement engine, you might gain a couple HP under very ideal conditions. Hardly worth the trouble IMO. "

    The CAI system does give a little more noise than the factory system, but that is because of all the baffling the factory does on the air intake to reduce this noise.
    As far as doing a Dyno test on CAIs, for me it is hard to see how you can get good 'real world' results when the vehicle is sitting still and the air that is getting sucked in is whatever the air temperature is in the garage at the time of the test. Try take a stock from the factory Cavalier on a road test. After you are done, remove the restrictive "s" snorkel intake and run the same road test. See if you do not see an improvement in horsepower. I sure did!! It's A FACT with my Z24.
  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    the difference in a short intake vs a cold air system? No doubt, one of the cheap intakes where the filter is at the top of the engine, sitting in the perfect place to draw hot air, may sound cool, but hurts performance. Many of the wanna-be sticker boys get their alleged "intakes" or "cold air systems" off of ebay or JC Whitney and think they're some hopped up street racer because their car sounds cool when they jump on it - problem is, they're now slower than stock.

    A true cold air system draws air from outside the engine, usually low in the compartment, and can improve performance SOME (like 1-2%). No major gains, like so many vendors claim...
  • gmoudygmoudy Posts: 67
    I agree with you. It's a shame that the Mr. Shiftright doesn't think so. I agree that the improvement is not that high, but it is better than the stock system in the vehicle.
  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    not the bogus 10-15 hp claim by many manufacturers - 1% is 1 hp on your car.

    Add it because it sounds cool and looks cool, don't expect any performance from it.

    Mr Shiftright has plenty of experience to draw from and his opinions are directly in line with mine on this.

    Install it if it makes you feel better, and your buddies go nuts in the parking lot when you pop your hood - just don't expect to see dyno or quater mile results.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,403
    What I said or meant to say and possibly didn't do a good job with, is that the horsepower gains " in the real world" are apparently not worth the money you spend for a CAI. You need to drop I believe 10 degrees I(and that's ALL the time you're driving) to gain 1% HP ON THE TOP END.

    So, if you figure that you're not always going to be 10 degrees cooler (especially on a warm day), and that you're not always going to be in the top end, and that 1% is hardly noticeable, and that you could lose that 1% with low air pressure in your tires or other variables that occur in your engine---well, what's the point of it?

    Also I've seen some CAI installations that are downright dangerous---they are too low in the airstream and there's a risk of hydro-locking.

    Having said all that, there may be some cars where it's worth it, maybe the older machines, but I have never seen a really bad design on air intake in a modern car.

    And we haven't even talked about people using air filters you oil up, which have been causing grief to MAF sensors and clogging up on dusty roads.

    I was once much more in favor of CAI but the more I read and the more pro people I talk to, the less and less I think of them as worth the effort and money. If you gave me one for free, sure I'd try it.


  • gmoudygmoudy Posts: 67
    You need to look at the intake on the Cavalier. That 'S' shaped entry in between the fender well will surely slow down the amount of air entering the system. Taking that off will ease the breathing of the intake. Let us not forget that we are talking 4 cyclinder engine.
    I know the increase is not alot, but if the flow is smother and the air is cooler, meaning the air is cooler outside the engine compartment than inside the engine compartment, than the car will run better and might even get better gas milage.
  • gmoudygmoudy Posts: 67
    Maybe you like to make a domestic car look '[non-permissible content removed]', I Do Not! My car is stock except for taking off the 'S' snorkel entry to the air filter box.
    Further, I don't know how you think you can Dyno air flow. Read all my postings. Kinda hard to Dyno air intake performance from a CAI or Ram Air scoop when the vehicle is sitting still and in a garage.
  • gmoudygmoudy Posts: 67
    Gotta talk to you about the air filters you oil up. I have been using a K&N filter for years in my 1998 Z24. No problems. I believe that your statement goes towards those individuals who spray too much oil on the filter. The clogging on dusty roads, yes I can see that if the air filter is exposed, like the ones at the end of some of the CAIs. I have not had that problem. I can only state that my experiences and the minor mods I have done to my Z24 have helped it breath easier, seen quicker response on acceleration, and my gas milage has stayed high. By that, let me give just a little background. I use my Z24, for the past year, drive back and forth to work which is round trip 36 miles. I do some city driving. I have been averaging 31 mpg. When I take a trip with the car, I get 34 mpg with the air running. This is better than EPA on the car. I guess I did something right by doing the minor mods I have done.
    My car still looks stock. So does the engine compartment. But it has surprised alot of people on how quick it still is and always has been.
    I believe you and I should put this thing to rest and state, you have your likes and I have mine. I know for my application, what I have done works great for me. It might not be for everyone.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,403
    I dunno, I've done a LOT of reading and research, and I am personally more and more convinced that these sytems are not worth the money and time we spend on them. If 2-3 HP at 6000 rpm (maybe) is worth it to you, then by all means go for it.

    The claims simply do not seem to hold up to any kind of rational and methodical testing. The evidence is all anecdotal and can't translate onto a dyno or a time slip with any sort of reliability and certainty. Why? The "improvements" are so small as to fall into the normal variables of dyno testing or driver error/skill.

    On the other hand, you put a turbo, or a custom intake and larger injectors on a car, and you can measure it decisively.

    If people building big HP tuner cars tell me they don't work, I am hard pressed to discount their advice because they know so much more than I do about it.

    So I'm just passing professional opinion to you along with my own reading and research. It all tilts to a very high level of skepticism and doubt about claims for significant power increases through CAIs or "free flow" air filtration.

    I think I qualified this by saying that the ram-effect cannister systems coming out of Europe are better.


  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    what I'm talking about, gmoudy. Have a nice day, and good luck with your Cavalier.

    And by the way, if you think that a stationary roller dyno is the only way to measure performance on a vehicle, think again.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,403
    The dyno question is interesting, because if we say "you can't test CAI with a dyno" then we must also say "you can't believe the dyno numbers that the makers of CAI put in their ads".

    So that's an impasse right there.

    I dunno what to say. When real smart people who do this for a living adamantly tell me to save my money on this stuff, it's hard for me to ignore it.

    But nobody knows everything about everything, that's true.

    Now and then a car will fool you. I remember a non-cat Porsche Turbo where a Flowmaster muffler of all things gave some GREAT results. Oddly enough, the completely non-restrictive muffler they tried prior made the car worse, but the Flowmaster, which has SOME restriction, really helped in the high end of the band.

    This is not something I would have predicted.

    So maybe on a very old car with a big engine, a CAI might give a noticeable improvement. The engine builders tell me that the more the cubes, the more the chances of CAI or K&N registering a couple horsepower.


  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    and cycle-wheel test equipment WILL show results and comparisons for parts installed and tested during driving cycles.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 39,945
    There are lots of real world reports over in K&N Air Filters, bolt-on power? for those interested in aftermarket air filters.

    Steve, Host

    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • skyler8622skyler8622 Posts: 2
    i just bought my cavalier a week or two ago and would like to know what would be the best thing for me to do with it to start????????

    what are some of the cheaper things i could do???????

    and what should i do in the future to improve the performance of the car in general???????

    for any suggestions.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,403
    Actually the first thing I'd do if I were you is save up for a set of better tires. If you want to wait until your OEM tires wear out, then maybe you'd enjoy a really good set of shocks on that car for better response, and a performance exhaust system (more for sound that speed in reality). These things shouldn't cost too much money and you'll enjoy the car more.


  • skyler8622skyler8622 Posts: 2
    the car is a '95 and i've already put new tires, belts, hoses, battery, and almost fully restored engine( i only paid $450 bucks for it but it runs like a dream ).

    i read some of the messages and still don't understand the real difference between CAI and Ram, could u explain it and is it really worth it??????????????
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,403
    Your question is actually kind of complicated and doesn't have a set answer.

    CAI is really about the placement of the filter, and the RAM AIR is more about the nature, size and routing of the tubing going to the engine's throttle body or carburetor or whatever is gulping in the air to the engine.

    So CAI is relying on dropping the air temperature into the engine for more power (denser air has more oxygen) and the RAM systems are about forcing large amounts of air into the engine "for free" as you build up speed. Of course it's not that simple as you don't get more and more pressure the faster you go...and the design, length and diamater of the tubing on RAM systems is pretty sophisticated (or should be) if it's going to work.

    One thing I can tell you with some assurance is that while a well designed CAI system or short-ram system may give you some HP (depending on how good or bad your STOCK system is), thing that doesn't work is a simple "drop-in" so-called "free-flow" filter.

    So is it worth it, a CAI or RAM system? To answer that you'd have to research some site or contact some person who has done it on your car AND tested it accurately.

    Many dyno tests on modern cars are completely wrong because the engines are so complex in computer regulation that the dyno numbers jump all over the place as the engine runs from one "map" to another. I'd imagine that VTEC type engine are particularly difficult to dyno accurately.

    But I think, from all the reading I've done, that the very best result you could expect from the best designed and most expensive system (and some of these are difficult to install and quite $$$) might be 15 HP or so, and with a typical CAI running outside the engine bay, maybe 5-9HP. Same-o, same-0 with RAM, depending. I think anything over 15 HP would be exceptional results.


This discussion has been closed.