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Description: I figured I’d do a product review for the K&N complete cold air intake for the 2003 I4 Accords for anyone interested in getting one. Before I get into detail about some of the stuff, I need to go over the basics first. I got the chrome intake back in August from www.performancecenter.com for $221 shipped (free shipping at the time). The intake came late of course, but nothing major. I also ordered the DC Sports 4-2-1 ceramic headers and the AEM air bypass valve (to prevent hydrolock) around this time from others places so that all could be installed at once. The reason I chose the K&N over other major brands like AEM and Injen was because of many factors: it was a two-piece design, so the bypass valve could be installed without any modification; the complete cold air design allows you to use the intake as either short ram or cold air by removing the extension; dyno tests on all the major brands were favorable for the K&N; good price; K&N makes very good filters; K&N provides a very good product warranty; the filter comes with a dry charger mesh cover; and it looks good. So, you get the point. But remember, this intake will not fit models with the mass airflow sensor (MAF), which my ULEV Accord fortunately didn’t have. Now, since these are all the basics, let’s get into the specs using a 1-10 opinion scale. Please note, the following review is based on my opinion only from a beginner’s perspective, so don’t take any of this as straight fact.

Install
?/10

I cannot personally rate the easiness or difficulty of the install process because I didn’t do it. I technically could have done the intake myself, but as mentioned before, I also ordered the headers and bypass valve around the same time, so I had the install done professionally in one shot. This was done by RevMotorSports in RI for $360, so they get props for this.
Now, we all know that any cold air intake installs on 7th Gen Accords require the front bumper to be removed, and this was the case for the K&N as well. From what I was told (and charged extra for), the bumper did need to be removed, but the guy who installed it didn’t fully remove the bumper. Rather, he unlatched the bumper and pulled it slightly off to give just enough extra room to work with. The guy said that the overall install of the components was a b*tch, because of the fact that the K24A4 motors are setup backwards and the engine compartment is so cramped. Also, the stock filter and air box setup was composed of so much unnecessary crap that I swear the car must be 10-15 pounds lighter with all of the junk from the old filter removed. But all issues aside, the intake got put in nevertheless, along with the bypass valve and the headers, without any major issues. So, things went as planned, but all I can give is a big fat question mark here.

Looks
9/10

Well, I haven’t seen many intakes in person on other cars, but the looks of the K&N in the I4 engine bay are a thing of beauty. Since I went with the chrome intake, it shines and sticks out nicely under the hood, and as long as you keep it clean, it should stay like this for awhile. It curves nicely too, extending from the throttle body, around the battery, and into the interior of the front bumper on the driver’s side. The large, conical K&N filter thus sits pretty close to the ground, but is protected by the enclosure of the bumper and the dry charger mesh cover, so it’s all good. 9/10 here.

Sound
6/10

Well, again this area is hard for me to rate because I’m not a genius as to what a “perfect” intake is supposed to sound like, but I’ll tell it like it is. At start up, while the car is warming up, the sound of the intake is very airy and hollow, almost like air traveling through a large hollow pipe (DUH!). In the engine bay, you will also notice a slight buzzing noise, possibly from the bypass valve, but I’m not too sure. Anyway, the hollow, airy noise will continue either until the car idles, warms up, or gets put into drive, at which time the car gets ready to go. The hollow, airy noise then dissipates a bit and the intake becomes less noticeable.
Whether in park or in drive, tapping the pedal and letting go quickly causes the filter to make a “pop” and then a suction noise as air is forced into the filter and up the pipe, so this is kind of cool. It tends to intimidate people too, which is enjoyable. But moving on, what keeps me from giving the sound any higher than a six is the fact that sometimes the sound is aggressive, while other times it’s weak. It should be noted that you don’t even hear the intake at all until you either get over around 2,000rpm of if you accelerate moderately--quickly. So, if you’re worried about constantly hearing your intake, this won’t be a problem for the K&N.
But back to the point, the score is not higher because when just tapping the gas while in park or accelerating lightly-moderately in normal driving conditions, the sound given off by the intake is kind of… raspy I guess. I’ve had people who don’t know a damn thing about cars or intakes ask me if I have a problem with my engine based on the sound, which of course is never appreciated, especially when the car is simply sitting still in park. But also, the beef I have with the sound is that when pressing lightly on the gas or when driving “normally” and not punching the throttle, the sound is more of a buzz than anything else, kind of like there is a big bumble bee trapped under the hood, or somebody is ripping ass in my engine. Needless to say, there’s no intimidating growl here. Buzzing noises and farting sounds aren’t exactly what I was going for. BUT, the dilemma here is a little complex because I do have the AEM bypass valve installed, which has been known to decrease horsepower a bit and could very well be changing the sound of my intake and causing the airy and buzzing noises. I also have the headers installed but no performance exhaust to maximize the breathing of the car. So, my opinion is based on a modified intake I guess, and might not be the case for intakes without any bypass valve or other device installed in the middle of a two-piece design.
Nevertheless, what I do like about the sound is the same for what everyone says about intakes – when punching the gas on the highway, onramps, etc. and driving at WOT, the sound is sweet, like having a performance exhaust in your engine. At WOT, the sound is definitely aggressive, and the K&N gives off this constant aggressive sound throughout the gears, dies down slightly in the higher rpm ranges right before the car shifts to a higher gear, and then levels out as you are cruising on the highway until you punch the gas again. Now, since I have an automatic, and the 7th Gen Accord’s transmission shifts so seamlessly and smoothly, the “ppffff” noise commonly associated with intakes when the car shifts up is very quick at best. Don’t get me wrong, the suction noise sounds great when it happens, but on the Accords, you can’t enjoy it too much. Such is life on the automatic I guess. But in a nutshell, at WOT the K&N sounds great. It’s just that the non-WOT sound cancels out its enjoyability a bit, IMO, so only a 6 here.

Performance
8/10

This area may be very biased and swayed on my part, so bear with me. My car was not dyno’d before the installs, nor has it been dyno’d to this day, so actual horsepower increases are a mystery. Thus, all I can rely on is the ever-popular “butt dyno”. So, after resetting the ECU once the mods were in, I’ve been riding with the intake for about 2,000 miles now, and from what I can tell, the intake definitely gives the car more horsepower, torque, and overall “oomph” in every gear… for an I4 anyway. I cannot attest to other peoples’ suggestions that intakes made them lose some low-end power, but I can attest to the gains. There is more power overall, especially in the mid- to high-end. If I’m sitting at a light and then I punch the gas, there is more push under the hood, and when the gears change my stock tires do slip a bit, which never happened before I had the intake installed. So, I cannot give any fancy specs or charts, but there are improvements in the power band from what I can feel from accelerating, especially from stop-to-go and on the highway, ramps, etc.
I said this area would be swayed, however, because if you remember, I also installed the bypass valve and the performance headers at the same time. So, how the intake performs solo in our engines I will never know. The bypass valve obviously affects horsepower a bit, as the dry charger mesh cover on the filter may also limit power a bit, but the big factor here is that the DC Sports headers are also in, so measuring performance is hard. The guy who installed all the pieces said that he test-drove my car the with intake only and he acknowledged that there were power increases. After the car cooled and he took it out again with the headers in, he said that the car was breathing even better and the power increased even more. So, the intake obviously has an effect, but as a solo piece, I personally cannot say how responsible it is for the increases. Nevertheless, it’s doing its job, and with the headers (but no performance exhaust, yet) its breathing like it should.
As for gas mileage, I think any intake, which increases air flow, will eat up gas slightly quicker than a stock engine as more fuel is needed for the mix, so my mileage has gone down a bit. How much? Well, nothing drastic from what I can tell. I don’t really pay attention to my mpg to be honest with you since I don’t drive long distances very much and my driving style is pretty sporadic (city vs. highway), so I cannot list accurate numbers here. What I can guess is that I’ve lost maybe a mile or two per gallon, but don’t quote me on this! Remember, it is an I4 ulev model, so this affects the numbers here a bit. But, I’m pretty sure that the numbers have gone down. Maybe I’ll start paying closer attention in the future.
I guess I’ll stick this last topic under performance too. The intake does vibrate quite a bit, especially when laying your foot on the break slightly or turning the wheel all the way to the left or right (I have no idea why this is, however). So, this initially drove me nuts because despite the intake’s rubber vibra-mounts, if the car’s fan kicked in (which also shakes like hell on our 7th Gens) then the intake would shake even more. This is due to the fact that the engine compartment is so cramped, so the intake pipe sits right up against the metal interior of the wheel well. Thus, this would make a knocking noise, shake the steering wheel, and accentuate any rattles in the dash. Needless to say, I fixed this very quickly. I removed the front bumper, located where the intake was rubbing, and stuck two-sided 3M adhesive tape in between the pipe and the wall. I know, a bootleg fix, but it did the job. It dimmed the vibration considerably, so for a free mod, I was pleased. The only downside is that now that the winter is here, the cold weather is undoubtedly making the tape harder and the vibrations are coming back a little. So, we’ll see with this one. But basically, all noises and vibrations aside, a solid 8 here in the 4-banger.

Overall
8/10

Overall, a good investment, and a simple, practical, nice upgrade IMO. You just can’t go wrong with an intake. If I didn’t have to deal with the weak noise and the vibrations, the intake would easily get a 10 from me, but, as with all parts, nothing is perfect. But, I’m glad I got it, even gladder that I installed the AEM bypass valve, and the DC Sports headers for more breathing potential, and I’ll be even happier with my custom exhaust (future upgrade).
Well, I hope you enjoyed my K&N product overview. Please take this with a grain of salt, though. I am a beginner, I didn’t install the intake, each car is different, and each I/H/E setup will perform differently as well. But, K&N is worth it and I’m sticking to it. If anyone has any questions or comments, PM me at striktlyaccord, or IM me at StriktlyBzniz. Also, check out the ride at http://www.cardomain.com/ride/1409017. Thanks.

Keywords: intake K&N I4 2003 sedan CAI cold air performance typhoon

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