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Summary
  • A cold air intake can improve your ride’s performance by 5 to 20 hp.
  • A cold air intake boosts your ride’s performance by improving the rate at which cool air is pulled into the engine and the combustion chamber to create a more efficient combustion reaction.
  • Other cold air intake benefits include improved acceleration and better fuel economy.

Cold air intakes are popular among car enthusiasts wanting to boost their ride’s performance. And let’s be honest, those colorful conical filters stand out once you pop up the hood.

But do they really make a difference if you don’t modify anything else in your vehicle? Do they increase your engine’s output are they just for show?

Let’s find out.

What’s the Typical HP Increase from Installing a Cold Air Intake?

A cold air intake can typically improve your ride’s performance by 5 to 20 horsepower (hp).

Remember that this is only an estimate. How much installing a cold air intake will affect your engine’s output will vary from model to model.

In some vehicles, the benefits of replacing the stock air intake are negligible. However, installing one alongside other modifications could boost your vehicle’s power output.

See also  What Does a Cold Air Intake Do?

What Does a Cold Air Intake Do?

car cold air intake adding hp
A cold air intake boosts your ride’s performance by increasing the rate at which oxygen is delivered to the engine and its combustion chamber.

Your engine needs three things for combustion to take place: air, fuel, and a spark. Each vehicle engine has an intake air system that’s tasked to send air into the engine through the intake manifold.

A cold air intake boosts your ride’s performance by increasing the rate at which oxygen is delivered to the engine and its combustion chamber.

So what difference does cool air make? Cool air has more oxygen density compared to hot air.

A more efficient combustion reaction happens when there is cool and oxygen-rich air in the combustion chamber. As a result, your engine can produce a higher power output, leading to a noticeable improvement in performance.

Other Cold Air Intake Benefits

Here are other known benefits of installing an aftermarket cold air intake:

Improved Acceleration

Along with increased horsepower, you should also notice improved acceleration. That’s because your ride should become more responsive when cold air is pulled into the combustion chamber. Expect that you’ll be able to reach your desired speed faster.

Better Fuel Economy

Your engine will tend to burn more fuel for combustion if there’s no adequate supply of oxygen-enriched air. Because a cold air intake helps you achieve the right air-to-fuel ratio, expect your gas mileage to improve.

Sturdier Filter

Most cold air intake kits include a performance filter that’s more sturdy compared to your ride’s original filter. Many of these performance filters can be cleaned, so you won’t have to replace them now and then.

Can A Cold Air Intake Damage My Engine?

In some cases, it’s possible. If the cold air intake isn’t installed properly, it can damage your engine instead of boosting its performance.

See also  Best Cold Air Intakes

Low-quality cold air intake kits can also cause engine performance issues. Make sure to source your cold air intake kit from legitimate sources.

Can an Aftermarket Cold Air Intake Change How My Engine Sounds?

Yes. A cold air intake can alter how your engine sounds. Once you install a cold air intake, you may notice that your engine sounds fuller. The more cold air is pulled into your engine, the louder the sound may get.

If you’re not a fan of this throaty sound, there are cold air intake kits that muffle noise. You might want to check those out instead.

How Much Does a Cold Air Intake Kit Cost?

Installing a cold air intake can cost you anywhere between $100 and $500. The price can vary depending on the brand you choose and the make and model of your vehicle.

A cold air intake kit usually includes a performance filter and tubings that can be used to relocate the filter. It typically also includes a cold air box that’s used to isolate the air supply from heated engine components.

Installing a Cold Air Intake

Installing an aftermarket cold air intake can be complicated—especially if you’re not a seasoned DIYer. It will involve disconnecting your mass airflow (MAF) sensor, installing the new air intake pipe on the engine bay, and reconnecting the MAF sensor again. You’ll also have to install a new air filter.

If you don’t have advanced technical knowledge, it’s best to take your vehicle to an auto repair shop and ask a mechanic to do it for you.

Can Installing A Cold Air Intake Void My Car’s Warranty?

Installing a cold air intake will not automatically void your vehicle’s manufacturer warranty. Your warranty will only be declared void if the modifications you added caused a malfunction or damage.

See also  Best Cold Air Intakes

To be safe, you can verify this with your auto manufacturer or at the dealership where you bought your car. 

Other Modifications That Can Boost Your Ride’s Performance

Cold air intake can work alongside other aftermarket modifications to make your ride’s performance better. Here are other popular performance modifications:

Performance Exhaust System

Aside from adding a cold air intake, you can also upgrade your ride’s exhaust system.

A performance exhaust system is specially engineered to enhance exhaust flow, resulting in decreased exhaust back pressure. If you’re thinking about increasing your ride’s hp and torque, you might want to consider getting a performance exhaust.

Forced Induction

Forced induction refers to the process of adding a turbocharger or supercharger to compress the air flowing into the engine. This can also increase your ride’s torque and hp. However, this modification can be complicated, so it’s best to consult a trusted professional. You also have to consider if this modification can void your warranty.

Suspension Upgrades

If you’re aiming for improved handling and stability, try to upgrade your suspension system. You can upgrade your shocks, struts, and springs to improve your ride quality and performance.

While a lot of vehicles can be fitted with aftermarket modifications, not all vehicles can easily adapt to them. It’s better to consult a mechanic before trying any aftermarket modifications.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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