November 2

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Best Cold Air Intakes

By Liam

November 2, 2021


Have you ever wondered how some models of cars offer outstanding performance while yours can't? You can indeed introduce a lot of changes and try different things. But, there is this one thing which has no competition yet. Changing your car's air intake has lots of benefits, including a boost in horsepower and torque.

So, if you are finding the best cold air intake, you are doing the right thing! But, how does it work? And what are the other cold air intake benefits? Should you even buy it? There are a lot of questions rumbling through your brain.

Remember, the goal of cold air intake is to provide your car's engine with cooler air. So, calm down, and let's read ahead to find more about Cold air intake. And, yes! Don't worry. We have also made a selected list of the best cold air intake you can buy and never complain about! So, if you are ready, round up the key, and let's drive! 


Best Cold Air Intakes

AEM Induction Systems is one of the most famous California-based companies. It started its journey back in 1987 and has been in the market for more than 30 years. So, the best overall pick for the best cold air intakes is, after all, AEM 21-478WR cold air intake. 

It comes with a hot red color and a specially designed filter for maximum cold airflow. The filter also keeps collecting micro and macro dust particles, keeping the engine safe. 

The Dryflow synthetic air filter is reusable as well. You can wash it with clean water. Thus, you can maintain smooth airflow and ensure better protection. 

The intake tube is made of aluminum. So, apart from being durable and rust-resistant, it efficiently collects colder air from outside as well. It also packs masterly designed hardware with a power-coated hear shield. As a result, this cold air intake can boost your engine performance up to 36 horsepower.

Pros:

  • Powder-coated heat shield
  • Washable and reusable Dryflow synthetic air filter
  • Looks amazing
  • Aluminum intake tube

Cons:

  • Pre-drilled mounting holes are not accurate

2. Best Classy Cold Air Intake: Airaid MXP Series

Airaid is another famous manufacturer of cold air intakes. The MXP series of this brand is one of its high-performance and premium line of products. Airdaid MXP cold air intake has been designed for diesel and gasoline vehicles. So, if you're looking for one such thing, you might find it useful. Most importantly, this line of col air intake is legal in all 50 States.

First of all, cold air intake is a high-end product. Hence, the performance out of this is incomparable. 

It can suck in an ample amount of cold air and provide additional airflow to the engine throttle. Thus, it ensures that your engine generates the highest horsepower. 

The air intake in this line comes with a premium quality air filter and polyethylene packed in one airbox. It has built-in velocity stacks, which ensure better airflow to the chamber. 

However, you can still get MXP air intakes with intake pipes made of carbon fiber. The carbon fiber air intakes are great as they decrease the overall weight while enhancing the overall look. And the best thing is that you can always upgrade your MXP intake system by separately buying a carbon fiber intake pipe.

Pros:

  • Legal in all 50 states
  • Premium quality product
  • In-built velocity stacks
  • Upgradable to carbon fiber tube

Cons:

  • A little bit expensive
  • Not suitable for patrol cars 

3. Most Affordable Cold Air Intake: BLACKHORSE-RACING 4" Cold Air Intake System Kit

If you want to dive into the budget options, Blackhorse Racing 4" Cold Air Intake might be the option for you. First of all, Blackhorse is a reputed brand in the country, with its products being sold in high esteem. 

Next, this cold air intake comes with a heat shield filter. Thus, it ensures smooth and cold airflow into the throttle without any restrictions so far. 

The filtration system used in the intake is a state-of-the-art system. It features innumerable microscopic cotton fibers. 

These cotton fibers are excellent to protect your engine from catastrophic damages caused by various contaminants in the air. 

The filter can suck more cold air into the system and provide a better airflow throughout. Thus, it improves the throttle response, which further ensures more horsepower. While tested in real life, the cold air intake kit is found to increase your horsepower by 8 to 10 percent. 

Now, this intake kit is not compatible with the modern vehicles out there. It is designed to fit some Chevrolet and GMC vehicles, manufactured between 1999 and 2006. Also, these vehicles must have V8 engines to be compatible. 

However, in short, the Blackhorse Racing Cold Air Intake system is the cheapest cold air intake out there. It is a great option for those willing to upgrade to the cold air intake for the first time. 

Pros:

  • Extremely affordable
  • It comes with a heat shield filter
  • Increases horsepower by 8 to 10 percent
  • Easy to install

Cons:

  • Very noisy  

4. Easiest To Install: Spec-D Tuning AFC

Spec-D is a popular name when it comes to DIY modifications of vehicles. This cold air intake bears the same high-end quality and reputation as the brand. If you love DIY installation and want to modify your car for good, you will love this Spec-D cold air intake kit.

So, the main highlight of this cold air intake is its easy installation. You get the bolts and the kit. All you need to do is to put it together in place and paste it all. It should provide you with the horsepower of up to 15 to 20.

This specific model of the cold air intake has been designed for Honda Accord. However, you can still find products for other vehicles as well.

The manufacturing of the product is also very trustable. It meets all the OEM standards while using all certified ISO materials. In short, if you are looking for a DIY cold air intake, you will love this Spec-D Tuning AFC cold air intake.

Pros:

- Easy DIY installation

- Increases airflow up to 50%

- It meets OEM standards

- Available for a wide range of vehicles

Cons:

- No Heat protection shield around the filter

- does not feature a high-end hardware


5. Honorable Mention: K&N FIPK Air Intake

K&N has been on the top of the list of manufacturers even since it started its business back in 1969. This Riverside, California-based company produces CARB-exempt products, which are legal in all 50 states. 

The K&N 57 series FIPK is one of its best cold air intake lines. This line of intakes is suitable to provide your vehicle with more towing and climbing power. It efficiently boosts your engine performance, giving your more torque and throttle response. Hence, it can increase horsepower to up to 26. 

The Cold air intake system also includes a reusable and washable filter with the cotton gauze. So you can easily wash, and we use the filter for the rest of your vehicle's life. 

The intake tube used in the cat is made of Crosslink nylon. It helps in providing cooler and denser air to the engine. Furthermore, it is lighter and more efficient than a metal tube. 

The FIPK intake kit is also very easy to install. You get a detailed Installation instruction manual packed inside the box. It will help you install the intake kit within 90 minutes. However, you need to find the model suitable for your vehicle. You can check their range of available intake models for that. 

Pros:

  • Easy to install within 90 minutes
  • Reusable cotton gauze filter
  • Crosslink nylon intake tube is more efficient than metal tubes 
  • Provides horsepower boost of up to 26HP
  • Ten year/ million-mile warranty from the brand

Cons:

  • Nothing significant

What Does a Cold Air Intake Do?

So, what is a cold air intake? Cold air intake is a replacement for your car's factory intake. Both these air intake systems are meant to provide air to your engine to keep it well-functioned. But, at times, the job gets pretty rough with a factory intake system.

And how is that so? Factory intake systems provide warmer air than cold air intake systems. It heats the engine and lowers the overall performance.

On the contrary, cold air intakes are used to solve this exact problem. Cold air intake supplies your engine with cooler air than before, which increases the engine's efficiency. Of course, there is a science behind it, which we have discussed later ahead. But, for one thing, cold air intake is an aftermarket assembly, which you need to install separately after you purchase your car. Hence, you won't get a cold air intake kit preassembled with your vehicle.

Now, let's move ahead and learn how does a cold air intake work. 


How Do Cold Air Intakes Work?

The primary purpose of using cold air intake is to provide the internal combustion engine with cooler air. This after-purchase product is a crucial inclusion for many cars, depending on the engine type and performance. When you purchase your first car, it doesn't come with a cold air intake as its air intake system.

Instead, you get a factory air intake; having a box air filter makes the whole process a lot more inefficient. Now there are a lot of other reasons why cold air intake is better. But, for now, let's focus on how it works.

Once you know the purpose of using cold air intake, the dynamic scenario is almost clear. So, cold air intakes are used to replace the factory intake that has always been there with your car. When you install a cold air intake in your car, you move the air filter outside of the engine to suck cold air into the engine.

But why does your car need cool air?

Well, colder air is dense with Oxygen. As your air intake system breathes in denser air and supplies it to the engine for combustion, the engine gets more Oxygen, which helps burn the fuel. Thus, your car gets more power. Cold air intake also provides you with smoother and uninterrupted cool airflow. It lessens the amount of hot air in the compartment.

Okay. So if we keep it short and simple, the work process of cold air intake is as such:

So, when you install a cold air intake in your car, you put the air filter outside of the compartment. Now, the filter sucks air and passes it through the tubes directly into the engine. It is pretty much how the cold air intake works. In simpler words, the cold air intake does not have a box to encompass air filters in it. Instead, it has smoother intake tubes. It provides you with an uninterrupted more airflow to the engine, giving your car enough power to run on the road. 


How is Cold Air Intake System Different from Stock Air Intake Systems 

The aftermarket cold air intake you purchase from the market is way different from the standard air intake systems you get in your car. And now that you know how cold air intakes work, it would be easy for you to understand the differences.

Cold air intake differs from your vehicle's factory intake in two major ways. These are:

The Air Intake Material

The build quality or material used in cold air intakes and stock or OEM air intake systems are different. In most OEM or stock intake systems, the air intake is hard plastic with a sheet for better longevity and durability. But it creates another problem.

These materials used in stock intake systems are head conductive. Hence, they absorb heat quickly, increasing the temperature of the air passing through it into the throttle and combustion chambers. Therefore, you don't get the maximum performance out of your vehicle.

But, on the contrary, cold air intake systems are made of polymers or aluminum. Hence, they are not heat-sensitive. So, when installed in your vehicle, it provides the engine with more cold air. The use of materials like aluminum and polymers in a cold air intake system is very scientific and helps to improve the function of your vehicle's air intake system. 

Air Filter Location

The air filter locations of both cold air intake and stock air intake systems are widely different. Stock or factory air intake system is mostly placed near the engine compartment of your car.

More than that, it is typically housed on the cylinder intake manifold, which emits a lot of heat. When air flows through the intake pipe, it tends to get warmer. Hence, factory air intake provides your engine combustion with warm air, decreasing the engine efficiency.

On the contrary, a cold air intake filter is placed at the front of your car. So, the air filter media gets more airflow. Also, since it is housed nowhere near the engine itself, cold air intake removes heat from the air and allows cooler airflow into your vehicle's throttle body.

So, these were two of the most prominent differences between a cold air intake kit and a stock air intake system. Now, let's move ahead and know the key benefits of installing cold air intake systems in your vehicle. 


Cold Air Intake Benefits

Cold air intakes are aftermarket car appliances that you can buy from anywhere. But, there is a huge argument over whether you should use it or not. And the argument is quite expected as well since it is directly related to the overall performance of your vehicle. But, the question remains for those who are willing to use performance air intake systems, why?

So, here we have mentioned some of the major benefits of using cold air intake systems in your vehicle. These benefits vastly range from providing your car's engine with more Oxygen to improving throttle response and overall vehicle performance.

Provides Your Engine with More Oxygen

As said earlier, cooler air is dense with Oxygen. To understand this, we need to go slightly deeper into the chemistry back at school. Do you remember the chapter where we were taught how Oxygen helps the whole burning process?

Oxygen works as fuel for the fire to burn. Hence, the more Oxygen your engine gets, the better fuel it will burn. Similarly, it happens vice versa.

In a factory air intake, the air filter is inside the engine compartment, very much near to the engine itself. Also, the intake tube is adjacent to the cylinder intake manifold itself. Hence, the air passing through the stock air intake system tends to get warmer.

But, with a cold air intake system, the air filter is moved to the front of the car- very much far from the engine. Thus, it sucks cooler air into the engine for combustion and improves throttle response. This is how the engine gets more Oxygen through the best cold air intake. 

Saving on Fuel Usage

Cold air intake saves a lot on your fuel usage. And, again, chemistry is at the field here. By now, you know how cold air intake provides your car's engine with more Oxygen. Thus, with more Oxygen, your vehicle can burn fuel efficiently. It improves fuel efficiency. Let's see how it works.

If you focus on how a factory airbox and air intake fits your car, you will notice that the air passing through it is hot. Hot air has less Oxygen, which hampers the burning process. So, the power required to burn fuel is not being provided efficiently. Thus, your car ends up burning more fuel to generate more power.

On the contrary, the best cold air intake systems allow more air flow through the intake tube. And, since the fresh air is already cold, there is enough oxygen to burn fuel efficiently. So, the power generated through the burn is enough to provide your vehicle with energy. It lowers fuel consumption since enough power is being generated already. In short, with the increased combustibility, the engine needs less fuel to disburse to get the same power as a factory filter.

Provides Your Car with More Power

Power is all we need, and so does your car. Cold air intake provides your vehicle with more power. These things are all related.

We have already talked about how Oxygen-dense colder air helps your car burn more fuel. So, in short, it increases combustion. This increased combustion of your vehicle increases the horsepower and torque.

And what does that mean? Well, with increased horsepower and torque, your car will have better horsepower gain, throttle response. Thus, it will have more speed and can tow more weight easily.

Thus, a cold air intake kit dramatically reduces intake restriction, which improves the overall performance of your vehicle and provides your car with enough horsepower and torque to woo you. 

Reusable Air Filters

The stock air filtration that comes with almost every vehicle has a disposable air filter. This air filter aims to collect dust, dirt, and other harmful particles that might hamper the engine performance (or damage it over time).

So, once these disposable air filters reach their capacity, you need to replace them with a new one.

When you get the best cold air intake kits, you will notice them having reusable filters. Reusable air filters are more efficient than disposable ones.

The biggest benefit of having a reusable air filter is that you can remove it at any time and clean it whenever necessary. Thus, it saves you a lot of money and also is entirely environmentally friendly. 

Affordable

Now, the next major benefit of cold air intake is its price. Although an aftermarket product, the best cold air intake kits are available at a very reasonable price range. More than that, there are a lot of options available in the market for cold air intake systems as well. Hence, you will always find something under your budget preference.

These were some of the major benefits of having the best cold air intake kit for your vehicle. However, one might face problems while finding the best air intake system. Finding the best cold air intake system is a job better said than done. There are a lot of important factors one should consider before making a purchase. So, let's move ahead and see the major considerations one should keep in mind while buying a cold air intake kit. 


Things to Consider before Buying a Cold Air Intake

Many cold air intakes come with a lot of different features. Also, the one that you should buy can be different from the one of your friend's. There are a lot of considerations one should follow while purchasing the powerful cold air intakes for their car.

Here we have mentioned some of the major things to consider before you buy a cold air intake kit. However, as you read ahead, you will also find some of the best picks done by us. But, for now, let's see the main things to consider before you buy a cold air intake system. 

Build Material of the Cold Air Intake

We have already mentioned before that the primary purpose of a cold air intake system is to provide your car engine with colder air. And material, for that matter, plays an important role in it. Now, if you ask how, it is quite simple.

The air sucked by the air filter passes through a tube into the throttle. Now, there are two things at work here. First is the air filter's position, which is already at the front of the car engine box. And second is the build material.

The main difference between a factory intake system and a cold air intake system is their build material. Most factory air intake system is built of hard plastic with sheet material to ensure durability. But, in a cold air intake system, you would find polymers or aluminum.

These materials are not heat-sensitive at all. So, when the air passes through the new cold air intake, it gets more air with an uninterrupted flow. And since the air intake system is not built of some heat-sensitive material, the air will stay cool and dense with Oxygen.

Therefore, always check the material before buying the best cold air intake system for your vehicle. 

Design of the Air Intake System

The second most important thing about a cold air intake system is its design. Most cold air intakes are designed to fit specific types of engines and vehicles. The manufacturers of these cold air intake kits take a lot of things into consideration while designing one. Hence, there is no such "universal" product as far as everything is concerned. While buying an air intake, you need to check the design of it carefully.

While checking the design of the best cold air intake system, the first thing to do is to check whether it fits in your engine or not. Different systems have different designs according to the type of vehicle and its models. So, it is necessary that you find the type fit for your vehicle.

If you are buying it online, you will find the details regarding it in the product description section. However, in case of manual installation at some local garage, ask the mechanic to find the one suitable and recommended for your car. Once you get the design right, the next thing to do is to check the type of cold air intake kit. 

Style of Cold Air Intake Kit

The next thing to consider is the cold air intake kit style that you would prefer to install. In general, there are two styles of cold air intake kit available in the market: short ram intake (SAI) and true cold air intake. Both these cold air intake kits are designed to increase the performance of your engine and enhance throttle response. However, the way they are set is quite different. Let's have a look into it. 

Short Ram Intake (SAI)

Both these styles look to increase the power of your engine. But, the short ram air intake system focuses more on reducing the restriction on air intake. And how does it do that?

In most vehicles, the intake air has to pass through a silencer box and resonator to limit the induction noise. Now, the problem with this restriction is that it can restrict the airflow as well.

The short ram intake does not have a filter box and resonator. Hence, when air passes through it, it has to travel a very short distance.

Thus, it improves the power of your car's engine. But since short air intake pulls air from the engine bay, the intake air will be slightly warmer than a true cold air intake. 

True Cold Air Intake

Now, the next style of cold air intake is the "true" cold air intake. One might ask, why "true"? If we look at the design of cold air intake, we will find that the air filter aims to be put as forward as possible to suck cold air directly from outside.

The "true," here emphasizes taking the air filter as forward as possible. Thus, it gives your car more extra cold airflow than the SAI, as mentioned earlier.

The air outside the engine bay is colder and denser with Oxygen. Oxygen helps to burn fuel much faster, thus providing your car with more power. Hence, the "true" cold air intake style lets your vehicle have higher Oxygen dense cold air. 

Intake Tube Material

The tube material plays a vital role in the overall function. In most cases, the intake tube is made of two types of materials- plastic and metal. Both of these materials have their own perks. However, you might prefer plastic over metal for several reasons. For one, plastic is not a conductor of heat. Hence, it keeps the inside air cold.

Apart from this, plastic tubes are also less restrictive. After all, you can easily mold them into a specific shape. It provides better airflow through the system. Thus, it can be used for more vehicles out there. On the contrary, metals tubes need to be welded to be bent to bring the shape. 

Intake Tube Flow

The main purpose of an intake system is to flow cold air into the engine throttle of your car. So, the faster it gets, the colder it remains. Thus, the shortest way for this transaction is through a straight line. So, what needs to be considered is the flow of the tubing.

A tubing with less bending will always be more efficient than the one being more. So, the hoses have to be straight so that air can flow more efficiently through them without much restriction. 

Installation

If you are not a mechanic yet want to install the intake system yourself, you might have difficulty doing it. Thus, before buying any cold air intake, you must consider the ease of use. For starters, go with the ones having factory holes in them. If it doesn't, you need to drill holes separately, which is a lot more work. 

Price

For one thing, you have to find the one cold air intake that is made for your car. So, the price might vary depending on many factors (intake tube material, for one). The horsepower that you will get depends a lot on the quality.

  • The basic range of cold air intakes starts from around $30 and to $100. These are pretty basic and can give your car a modest boost.
  • The mid-range of intake systems varies between $100 to $300. You can expect better build quality, dynamic designs that can provide as much boost as you would want at this price range.
  • The highest range, however, costs more than $300. These models are designed for high-end and expensive cars. And so, the construction is very solid. And, for one thing, with these versions, you can stay assured of the boosted horsepower gain. 

Water Protection

The last thing anyone would want is to your aftermarket cold air intake to suck water, for it may cause disastrous results. Water in your cold air intake system can also result in serious engine failures.

Hence, it should be one of your primary concerns to find a cold air intake with proper water shielding. It should also protect your engine during wet weather.

Cold Air Intake Brands

The brand reputation also plays a crucial role in the quality of your product. We would recommend going for a reputed brand instead of settling for the local products. Some of the most reputed cold air intake brands are: 

  • Airaid
  • K&N Engineering
  • AEM Induction System
  • Specter Performance
  • Volant Powercore

Such brands have been on the market with enormous reputations, customer service, and product quality. 

About the author

A car enthusiast who loves all cars and everything about them; I enjoy buying them, collecting them, working on them, modifying them and sharing them with friends. We love classics around here because of their handling, horsepower, speed, their smells, and their sounds. I get a feeling from driving one of my cars that can't be described to anyone who doesn't get it and I hope to share that with our club members and readers

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