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You don't need to remove them. If you want to, I'm sure it couldn't hurt, maybe a bit more air-flow to it. I have the Injen SR, and when I took the panel out in front of it, it didn't do squat...maybe hook it up to a dyno and find out for sure, but I think other than giving you a bit more of the "tuner" look, you don't gain much by taking those out.
There are a few threads out there talking about the same controversy. I would say keep it clean, leave em in...
It Doesn't Matter...As Long As It's Just Black and White.
I'm liking the ones proshopxB gave me for the looks and the sound. You can hear the air sucking in when you walk in front of the box now while it's running. Plus it makes the center grill look wider and the covers less like light hole plugs.
05' BCP xB W/ 48K miles
08' Absolute Red Yaris LB 5spd. W/ 42K miles