Engines suck! Frankly that’s how engines work. The piston goes down and the air is sucked into the cylinder. But to make it really perform, cool fresh air drawn into the engine in massive amounts will make more power than an engine that is starved for oxygen. Enter the JLT Cold Air Intake (PN CAI-FMG-18 – not available in California) for late-model (2018 in our case) S550 Ford Mustangs.
Our subject vehicle was an undisturbed specimen retaining all of the factory accouterments and challenges. To be fair, the factory air intake would be considered amazing for cars from previous generations. But thanks to science and the folks at JLT, the ability to install a Cold Air Intake on our vehicle took no more than 30 minutes – tops.
Combined with other changes we have planned for the car, this step is not only important, it is critical to generating the peak power. For the 20+ additional horsepower (dependent on your state of tune) and improved mileage that comes from lower intake temps and less inlet restriction, this is the best bang for the buck we can think of for late-model Mustangs. Follow along as we swap out the factory intake for a JLT Cold Air kit. It will make your car suck more, and in this case, that’s a good thing.
After removing the shock tower brace and disconnecting the battery for safety, remove the mass air sensor by pulling a tab on the bottom and slipping the connector off and out of the way. Unsnap the plugs that hold the wiring harness in place.
Remove the engine cover by removing the caps that cover the hidden 10mm nuts within.
Next remove the nuts that hold the cover in place by releasing the snap clips that hold it down in the back. Pull up on the back of the cover to release the ball clip first and lift out evenly.
Next remove the stock PCV line by pulling back the grey tab that holds it in place. Remove it completely from the vehicle.
Squeeze the clamp that holds the sound tube to the nipple on the intake tube.
The sound tube can be removed permanently or it can be reinstalled by using parts supplied with the JLT setup. The hardest part here is the removal of the sound tube that mounts to the firewall. JLT suggests simply pulling on the tube, which will leave a small portion of the plastic bracket attached to the firewall and effectively do the same thing. The choice is yours.
JLT includes a firewall plug that fills the hole in the firewall.
Release the air intake from the throttle-body by removing the clamps that hold it in place.
Unsnap the top half of the air intake from the bottom. This makes removal of the factory intake much easier.
Unhook the vent tube by pressing in on the black tab on the clip and sliding it off.
Lift off the top of the intake and set it aside. You will not be reinstalling any of these pieces.
The base of the intake box is held in place with two 10mm bolts. Keep them for installation of the JLT intake.
Lift out the factory intake, making sure not to drop any parts into the throttle-body.
The JLT kit features a full air box that will replace the factory unit along with a high-flow intake tube and oil suspension air filter. All parts required for the install are included.
The only parts reused from the factory intake are the rubber locator mount and threaded grommet/insert that pops out of the factory unit and slips in to the new JLT unit.
This grommet fits in a pre-drilled hole in the case inserted from the bottom along with the metal insert.
Slip the connection tube into the JLT box. Some manipulation is required but the seal between the two must be tight to avoid air leaks and heating the intake air.
Slide in the JLT air box lining up the connection tube with the hole in the firewall. This maneuver takes some time to get fully lined up but once in place, it fits beautifully.
Using the original 10mm bolt, the new JLT box is tightened in place. The locating grommet that you transferred from the factory unit is also in position here although not visible in his photo.
JLT supplies a new gasket that surrounds the factory mass air sensor. Don’t forget to slip in place before installation.
The mass air sensor should be clean before you slide it in place. You should also avoid touching the surface (sides). The sensor is installed with the open port towards the filter end of the intake.
The JLT kit includes screws that hold it to the new intake. Make sure not to tighten the screws excessively; this electric driver was used simply to start the screws.
After slipping the clamp over the end of the filter, slip the filter in place and tighten the clamp.
Slip two more clamps around the rubber connection sleeve and tighten the clamp to the throttle-body opening. The connection sleeve should slip all the way on the neck of the throttle-body until it hits the shoulder of the inlet tube. Keep the clamps slightly loose to allow manipulation of the inlet tubing.
Slip the air intake tubing into the other end of the rubber connection sleeve and snug down the clamp to hold it in place.
Reconnect the mass air sensor plug, making sure not to over extend the wiring harness. We unhooked the wiring loom clip to give it the necessary length.
Connect the PCV tube to the nipple on the JLT Cold Air Tube.
Reconnect the vent line to the JLT Cold Air Intake tubing, snapping the connection clip in place
If you want to reconnect the factory sound tube, JLT includes this nipple and washer that can be installed in the intake tube. Drilling is required for this installation.
After making sure that the intake tube is low enough to avoid rubbing the hood (especially important with 2018-2019 Mustangs, which has extremely low hood clearance) install the foam piece to keep the filter from rubbing on the hood.
The final look of the installation is extremely clean and fits like the OE system with the exception of much higher flow due to the large tubing and low restriction air filter. We dyno tested our JLT system against out baseline figures and found the installation of this kit was good for 21 horsepower over stock. We did recalibrate the ECM on the Mustang to help take advantage of the new, higher airflow JLT Cold Air Intake.