Evan J. Smith
April 7, 2015

One of the easiest methods to increase horsepower on any Mustang is to replace the restrictive factory air inlet with free-breathing cold-air induction. This month we’re going do just that with a BBK Cold Air Intake and tuner kit, along with a 90mm throttle body, also from BBK. These parts offer affordable power gains, improve the looks of your engine bay, and are easy to install.

Some may wonder why we didn’t simply install the CAI and call it a day. Despite what you may have read online, it is highly recommended that you install a calibrated tune whenever you modify your 5.0L Coyote engine. And one of the benefits of this kit is that it comes with the reliable and easy-to-use SCT X4 Power Flash tuner preloaded with calibrated tunes.

The BBK CAI and tuner kit (PN BKP-938) for 2011-2014 Mustangs includes a black powdercoated inlet tube (chrome is also available), blue silicone couplers, a high-flow air filter that’s washable, a neatly designed baffle to isolate the filter from hot engine air, and all necessary mounting hardware.

We installed this cold-air kit from BBK Performance, along with a 90mm BBK throttle body (not shown), on a 2011 Mustang GT.

The SCT X4 Power Flash Tuner comes preloaded with calibrated BBK tunes. The tunes work with BBK cold-air (or other aftermarket) kits, plus other typical Mustang modifications such as headers, exhaust, gears, or aftermarket throttle bodies. It also allows you to adjust shift points in automatic-equipped Mustangs for firmness and better performance. Plus, you can read DTC trouble codes. What you may not know is, should you go without a tune, you could run the risk of running your engine too rich or too lean. And most likely it will throw a check-engine light (i.e., a code). In some cases you can even experience erratic throttle action and poor drivability.

The X4 also features a large color screen. It can receive Wi-Fi updates, and it will store as many as 10 custom tunes. Loading any of the tunes is easy. Simply plug the connector into the port located just under the steering wheel and follow the prompts.

We coupled the CAI and tuner kit with the aforementioned BBK 90mm throttle body (PN 18210), which also works with Boss intakes and on the 5.0 F-series trucks. Simply stated, larger-than-stock throttle bodies have the potential to flow more air and help your engine reach higher power levels. And like the CAI and tuner kit, the throttle body is easy to install, only requiring you to remove a few bolts and a wiring connector; total install time is about an hour.

So how much power can be had with these parts? Before getting started, we strapped the GT to the rollers. It produced a baseline of 370.50 hp and 353.30 lb-ft of torque. The tune alone provided 376.42 hp and 374.67 lb-ft. With the CAI and tune, the GT jumped to a peak of 389.40 hp and a whopping 383.04 lb-ft. And with the 90 mm throttle body, the GT gained another 2 hp at the peak and 1 lb-ft of torque, for a total gain of 20 hp and 30 lb-ft. We’d say the throttle body would have done better had our tested been equipped with headers or maybe a power-adder.

1. The stock air box and inlet system on Coyote-equipped Mustangs is designed for both quiet operation and power.

2. We began by disconnecting the negative battery cable.

3. Next we removed the small pin connectors that retain the plastic radiator cover and removed it from the engine bay.

4. We then pulled out the factory mass air sensor.

5. It is necessary to disconnect the engine sound tube from the inlet elbow.

6. Next we removed the top of the air box and attached elbow.

7. Following this, we unbolted and removed the bottom of the air box, along with the stock filter.

8. We then removed the strut-tower brace and we popped off the decorative 5.0 engine cover.

9. Finally, we got to the throttle body.

10. Before removing the throttle body, we unhooked the single wiring connector.

11. From here we can remove the factory throttle body.

12. The intake manifold is plastic and houses a rubber O-ring that seals the throttle body; there are no other gaskets to mess with.

13. There’s quite a difference between the stock throttle body and the large BBK Performance Power Plus 90mm unit.

14. For installation, we first attached the throttle body with the four supplied mounting screws. If you’re tackling this job, be careful not to overtighten the throttle body to the plastic intake.

15. With the throttle body in place, we installed the new BBK filter housing, which shields the air filter from engine heat. It mounts to the fender and the radiator support.

16. Next we installed the BBK intake elbow. This is the black powdercoated version, but BBK also offers it in chrome.

17. Next we slid the mass air sensor into the tube and bolted it into place.

18. Finally we attached the supplied high-flow air filter.

19. With the hard parts in place, all we need to do was load the supplied tune using the SCT X4 handheld tuner and get the GT back on the dyno.

20. SCT takes all the fear out of loading tunes in your EFI Mustang. After plugging the unit to the car, the screen lights up and guides you through the process.