Here’s the theory behind this simple performance enhancement. Cold air is denser than hot air. Cold air has more oxygen atoms than hot air. The more oxygen atoms that are in the combustion chamber of your engine, the more efficiently fuel is burned. In other words, you get a bigger explosion and that bigger release of energy pushes the piston with greater force creating more horsepower and torque.
The air inside your engine bay is way hotter than the air outside your car. The air your engine is currently sucking in is not quite as hot as the ambient engine temperature, but at a minimum it’s “pre-heated.” The stock air intake in your ride was designed to fit snuggly against your engine block. That’s like snuggling up to a bonfire. If you had a way to get the colder air into the choke without “pre-heating” it, you would have a more efficient combustion and more power.
Enter the cold air intake kit.
Increased Power, Increased Torque, Better Fuel Economy
Cold air intakes essentially move the air intake away from the engine block and closer to the “cold” air entering the vehicle from the outside. All cold air intake kits consist of a tube and a performance filter that replaces the stock air filter. The tube is attached to the stock intake and angled away towards an air vent, wheel well or some other location where air enters the engine compartment from the outside.
At the end of the tube is an air filter. Unlike your stock filter which needs periodic replacement, the cold air filter can be removed, washed in soapy water and reinstalled. The kits are typically made of plastic to minimize vibration and noise, or a metal with a shiny finish like aluminum for drivers who “showcase” their engines.
These kits are a snap to install. No special tools or advanced skills are required. If it takes you longer than an hour, you probably shouldn’t be driving anyway.
So, here’s a quick rundown on what you can expect when you install a cold air intake kit:
- A more efficient burning of fuel that releases more energy. This translates into increased horsepower and torque.
- More efficient burning of fuel means more fuel efficiency. Expect to see your mpg to go up.
- No more changing air filters. Cool water and a splash of dish soap keeps your performance filter clean forever.
- A better breathing engine means less engine wear.
- OK, a cold air intake is a great idea. Who makes them?
Most Popular Cold Air Intake Brands
There are a ton of “air enhancement” products out there, but there are a few brands that sell the most cold air intake (CAI) kits. Some tend to carve out a certain niche or specialty, but most have a product for every vehicle.