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Why should I install a Cold Air Intake?

Every engine requires a stream of fresh, filtered air to run. The air is used to mix with fuel to combust. Without air, a combustion engine simply won’t work. Because no combustion.

The most effective way to have more power is to improve the engine’s airflow. This is why we have such mods as turbochargers which force feed air into the combustion chamber. It is why headers and cat-back exhausts exist to get rid of the combusted air faster and to reduce back-pressure. Thus, more airflow. But all this starts with a tube like structure called an intake.

But with factory intakes, it draws more hot air than an engine wants to produce more power. Hotter air produces less power because it is less dense. Which is why we will talk extensively about cold air intakes.

What is a cold air intake?

Cold air intakes are a fairly inexpensive modification and easier to install than most other engine modifications. No, they won't add quite as much power as other engine mods, but they will help your engine in some other ways.

Think of a factory air intake system as like having a cold that clogs up your head and restricts your breathing. Now run like the wind! Out of breath? Essentially, a cold air intake is like an amazing drug that allows your engine to finally breath freer.

Cold air intakes move the air filter outside of the engine compartment so that cooler air can be sucked into the engine for combustion. Cooler air brings more oxygen because, as we have established, it is denser. Now, into the combustion chamber the cool air goes and that means more power. The filters are usually moved to the upper wheel well area or near a fender where there is more access to free flowing, cooler air and less hot air from the engine. Also, this is where air boxes will work great, shielding the filter from the hot air in the engine compartment.

Not only does a cold air intake reduce the air temperature, but it also increases airflow. Aftermarket intakes remove the need for a box surrounding the air filter and instead use large diameter intake tubes that are smoother, have less bends and are often wider than the original factory ones. Removing the air box and using smoother tubes gives the engine uninterrupted airflow.

What benefits will I gain with a cold air intake?

By itself, you'll probably notice an increase in power when the throttle is fully open. Some manufacturers claim as much as a 3 to 24 horsepower increase for their system. But if you team up the cold air intake with other engine modifications, like a new exhaust, you will create a much more effective flowing system. So think of it as just one part of many to increase your engine's ability to breath and exhale, to increase its performance.

There are a few drawbacks to consider when installing a cold air intake though. If the air filter is too exposed and sucks up water, it'll go straight into your engine which can cause hydro lock. Adding a bypass valve will keep the engine safe from this event.

For overall performance, cold air intakes are the best option when the engine is revved to higher rpm. Induction noise is increased. A downside is that the location of the filter could potentially hydro lock the engine by pulling in water, as it is often located close to the ground. Yet this can be avoided by adding a bypass valve. This is recommended for track or drag vehicles which keep the engine revs at higher rpm.

Ready for cool air entering your engine?

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