Disclaimer - This review is subjective in nature and includes the opinions of the author. All results may vary considerably by application. This product was acquired at retail value and this is not a paid endorsement of the product(s) featured herein; no compensation was received for the publishing of this article.
S&B Air Intake Review
S&B's intake kit for the 5.4L and 4.6L F-150 came well packaged with a clearly defined bill of materials and full color, step-by-step instructions. Installation was a breeze, with the following exceptions:
The mass airflow sensor did not mate flush to the heat shield, where a gasket is supposed to seal the MAF sensor to the shield housing. Thus, it was necessary to increase the size of the 4 holes through the heat shield body to 3/8", allowing the MAF sensor bushings to seat and the MAF to rest flush against the heat shield. To S&B's defense, this is a problem that we've faced with several manufacturers - we've deduced that there are multiple MAF sensor styles used on the 1997 to 2003 (and possibly newer) F-150 powered by either the 4.6L or 5.4L V-8. While the modification was simple, we assume it voids our warranty.
The heat shield did not mount to the fender per S&B's mounting holes. New mounting holes were drilled so that the heat shield could be placed further towards the passenger side of the vehicle. When installed in the position intended by S&B, the intake tube was short by several inches.
Once these fitment issues were addressed, we were off and running in under 20 minutes. The filter performed as you'd expect, providing what we can only describe as the same or similar performance characteristics and fuel economy improvements as systems from other manufacturers. However, if there was one noticeable improvement, we'd suggest that the S&B kit provides relatively broad performance enhancements with regard to where in the powerband improvements are distinguishable.
• Thick, solid boots connecting MAF, throttle body to intake tubing
• Intake air temperature sensor fits snug in the intake tube (loose fitment has been a reoccurring problem with competing manufacturers)
• Efficient transition between air filter mouth and intake tube
• Air filter heat shield
• Unique air filter draws air from circumference and front of filter
• Snug fit, solid mounting technique, minimal intake movement
• Poor installation fitment, modifications required (see above comments)
• Chrome air filter accents feel out of place considering "plainness" of the rest of the system
• Crankcase ventilation and intake air control inlet placement on intake tube - factory engine cover no longer fits
• Moderate underhood "whistling" noise, which is inherent to 4.6L engines but not present in some competing systems
Despite a few shortcomings, we're overall pleased with the intake system from S&B. The system is sturdy with minimal up-and-down movement, the IAT sensor fits snugly into the intake tube (a problem we've experienced with several competing systems), and the provided intake boots are manufactured from thick rubber. The assembly loses points for poor application fitment, but installed nicely with slight modifications.