Gearing up for RTCC with a new air intake system.
Our Project Frontier Nismo came equipped with a healthy 4.0L V-6 that builds exceptional power in stock form. However, the additional weight of larger tires and wheels caused the once-swift little pickup to feel a bit sluggish off the line, so we began scouring our sources for power-adders to help return the vehicle's performance to as close to stock as possible. Our search led us to Advanced Engine Management (AEM) in Hawthorne, California. AEM is known for building high-quality performance enhancers with stylish good looks and CARB certification. AEM also has an interesting new filter media that is cleanable and doesn't require oil that many other aftermarket filters do. This technology excited us because oiled air filters are typically messy and can cause warranty issues. Further, AEM claims this new filter material is both more efficient and longer lasting than traditional oiled air filters.
We quickly dispatched our Frontier to AEM's Southern California research and development headquarters to install and dyno-test a new oil-free Brute Force intake.
This is the complete Brute Force intake system for the 2005 Nissan Frontier. It comes with all required hardware to complete the installation.
The first step of this installation was to remove the factory intake plenum and filter housing. To do this, remove the OE air filter to gain access to one small mounting bolt securing the box to the inner driver-side fender. Next, remove two small bolts near the middle of the plastic plenum from the mounting brackets (shown). Unplug the MAF sensor and rubber valve-cover breather flex hose from the factory ducting. With these items removed, the whole stock intake setup can be easily removed from the engine compartment as one piece.
Next, install the MAF sensor into the polished aluminum intake tube. It's very important to pay close attention to the physical orientation of this sensor when removing it from the stock plenum. If you don't get it right, the result could cause the "check engine" light on the instrument panel to illuminate.
Next, install the AEM heat shield. This is the most time-consuming portion of the install as two small bolts in the front of the assembly are very difficult to secure because of spatial constraints. This isolation shield ensures cooler outside air doesn't mix with hot engine compartment air; the result is a cooler, denser charge of air to the engine. Note the rubber isolation mount for the intake tube (arrow). This feature effectively helps reduce annoying intake vibrations.
The cylindrical oil-free filter element mounted easily to the polished intake tube. Once all the hard parts were in place, a short piece of foam insulation was attached to the top of the heat shield. This created a seal between the hood and the heat shield, further reducing heat migration.
That's a Wrap
Real Truck Club Challenge has spawned quite a following since its inception two years ago. As such, Four Wheeler needed a way to further promote the event and identify our Project Frontier Nismo's association with it. We turned to the professionals of APE Wraps, a national graphic design and production firm based out of San Diego, California. These guys can put almost anything you can dream up on a thin layer of durable vinyl, and then install it over your vehicle's paint. The product is less expensive than custom paint, and acts as a protective layer for your vehicle's finish, and thanks to APE's exclusive UV protective laminate layer, the vinyl will never fade. Plus, if you dent a body panel and need to redo a section of the wrap, the computer-generated graphics can easily be reprinted and applied at a fraction of the cost of paint. We chose a design that mimicked Art Schmitt's radical 2005 Nissan Frontier CORR race truck.
Our take on AEM's intake
The product was pretty simple to install, requiring only basic handtools and a very general knowledge of mechanical things; it took us a little over an hour from start to finish. We are impressed with the quality of the polished aluminum tube and are anxiously awaiting the first chance to clean our oil-free filter element. We dyno-tested our truck on AEM's Mustang dyno with the stock tires and wheels and found the Brute Force intake system made 14.2 hp and 4 lb-ft of torque on average. These numbers may not seem like much initially, but we could actually feel a difference in throttle response off the line and even more so up around 4,000 rpm. The sound of this intake is simply wicked, with a noticeable harmonic tone from about 2,700 rpm on up. We like the added power and found that our highway mpg actually increased slightly, too. We also like the fact that the AEM system has a CARB certification sticker, ensuring we won't have a hard time with smog checks later down the road, always a welcome benefit.