Offroad-Review August 2012
Stinger System For 2012 JK’s
The new 3.6 liter Pentastar motor is putting smiles on JK owners everywhere. Its extra power and better fuel economy are among the highlights. However, many of the usual suspects for engine modifications are quiet as of yet to release hop-ups for the new power plant. Gale Banks Engineering has broken the silence with the release of both a cold air intake and exhaust system. Combined, Banks sells the two components as their Stinger System, yet there’s nothing painful about the install or performance.
Ram-Air Cold Air Intake System
Install: I began by installing the Banks Ram-Air system first. This was as easy as it gets, being installed in about 30 minutes. I spent more time getting the parts out of the box than I did under the hood. All that was needed was a 10mm socket wrench, a small Allen wrench, and a flat head screwdriver. Now, I’ve owned several TJs in the past, and a 2010 JK. I never did much to my 2010 JK other than putting a Banks exhaust on it. The TJs received Banks exhausts and some other brand’s air intakes. If you’re experiences are like mine in that respect, you’ll be surprised to find that the JK models all have large resonance chambers on their air intake tubes, even from the factory. These are done for several reasons, but mostly to eliminate the “droning” sound emanating from the throttle body. I was unaware of this on the outset and when I pulled the Banks Ram-Air System out, I was a little surprised to find the air tube had a decent sized chamber (known as a Helmholtz Resonator) attached to it. I was equally shocked to find the factory JK tube had a small one on it as well. TJ tubes were always just a tube, but you could always hear a notable “drone” sound on the TJs after a cold air intake was added. Those days are gone thankfully.
With the removal of the factory air tube and filter box, the new Banks system was ready to install. The only two even remotely tricky areas of the install were ensuring the filter was lined up with the tube properly and getting the airflow sensor into the new Banks’ tube right without losing the rubber grommet. Like I said, the whole install took maybe 30 minutes, so neither of those details were particularly difficult to overcome.
Impressions: So, as it turns out, that resonance chamber being just a little larger completely removes the “drone” sound normally found on aftermarket air intakes and provides a tone that is reminiscent of a V8 motor with a stock exhaust. I proceeded to drive the JK around with just the Air Ram kit on for about 100 miles or so to see how it helped the gas mileage. I was impressed to note about a 2 MPG improvement in that regard. For a JK with the factory 4.10 gears and 37″ tires, any additional miles per gallon are welcomed with open arms. I can’t really judge the extra power increase as well as a dyno could, but Banks claims most will see an extra 8 HP boost and 11 lb-ft of torque, and I’d say that is a fair assessment. The Jeep feels more responsive to throttle input as well.
Monster Exhaust System
Install: The next day, I drove the Jeep to the DIY shop on base to install the exhaust. In previous Jeeps, I’d have taken this to a shop to get installed, but the Banks kit looked simple enough from the instructions, so I figured I’d give it a whirl. Again, the list of tools required was pretty short. You’ll need a reciprocating saw (or alternative), a 14mm and 15mm socket, and a pry bar of some kind. A small rubber mallet will assist too. The hardest part was making the initial cut, 5″ behind the factory resonator (not the same chamber from earlier in the intake install), but I’ll chalk a lot of that up to a dull cutting blade. The rest of the install is wrenching. I was at a shop with an impact driver so this was super fast, but even with a hand socket set wouldn’t have taken long. I spent two hours installing this kit at the shop, and about 30 minutes of that was chatting there and setting up while the exhaust cooled from the drive over. The fit of the bends in the tubes followed factory lines perfectly and may even provide an inch or so better clearance over the rear axle tube area if you line it up right. I ensured I tightened all the clamps down in such a way that they didn’t hang down to get caught on rocks.
Impressions: This was actually my first time doing exhaust work myself, and it was super easy with the clamps. I might take it to get welded in place at a later point in time, but for now, I’m confident the clamps will hold just fine. The fit and finish of the kit was excellent. If you follow the instructions, you can’t go wrong. As for the sound, it’s a quiet tone at idle, and throaty as the Jeep revs up. This is a hallmark of all the Banks systems I’ve owned in the past and it’s why I continue to turn to them every time. Some mufflers are just loud at idle and rattle as you rev up. The Banks kits always sound tuned and never rattle. With the dramatically smaller muffler, you’ll see improved rear ground clearance as well (by almost two inches), rock crawlers everywhere will love that.
Again, I don’t have access to a dyno, but Banks does and they feel you’ll see an airflow boost of a shocking 140% exiting the system from the new exhaust alone. Before I installed either of the Banks products, I was seeing 15 MPG from my Jeep on daily driving to and from work. I now consistently see 17 MPG around town. Again, for stock gear and 37″ tires, I think that is great. Before the lift and tires, the JK saw 19 MPG around town.
Even a full year later, the new 3.6L motor doesn’t yet have as many manufacturers making products for it as I’d expect. Banks took their time to develop thought out products and test them, you can tell by the fit and finish. However, Banks was surely one of the initial companies to make an exhaust system for it, and they’re also one of the first to make a cold air intake for it as well. Their quality is top-notch, yet the price is about mid-pack compared to what is out there right now. Frankly, I’d have expected, based upon the quality of parts used, that the Banks kits would be more expensive than they actually are. You figure, these are stainless steel exhaust kits, with a polished muffler and tip. You’re also getting a vehicle-specific air tube (not a one size fits all approach) and high-end rechargeable air filter with the intake kit. These are usually the selling points for charging top dollar, but you’ll find the Banks parts are reasonably priced. The Banks Stinger package helps the new power plant breath better by opening up the two most restrictive sites. You will see improved power, mileage, clearance and tone. The installation of both products is extremely straight forward and fit perfectly. Project Rock Recon welcomed the Banks additions and I continue to be a fan of their products as well.
Video of the Banks Conversion to Project Rock Recon.
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