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What Does a Cold Air Intake Do? Your Complete Guide

Published Wed March 29, 2017


Are you looking to soup up your car, make it more powerful, or simply help it run more efficiently? There are plenty of aftermarket products you can buy that will help you make the desired modifications to your vehicle. One that is particularly worth knowing about is the cold air intake.

The cold air intake is somewhat unique among aftermarket products. Compared to most, it is both fairly inexpensive and also fairly easy to install. But is it worth the time and the money? We’ll explain what it does and how might it impact the operation of your vehicle.


How Cold Air Intakes Work


Your car already has a factory-installed air intake system, but sometimes it can get clogged. Think of this like a common cold, which clogs your sinuses and makes it difficult for you to breath. Of course, if you tried to run 5K in this state, it probably wouldn’t work very well. Along the same lines, trying to run your car while the air intake system is clogged can lead to problems and decreased functionality.

Cold air intakes address this problem. Think of it like the world’s most amazing cold medicine. It breaks down those clogs and allows your car to “breath” normally again and run as intended.


What a Cold Air Intake Does


When you install a cold air intake, you move the air filter outside of the engine compartment so that cool air can be sucked into the engine for combustion. This cool air is denser with oxygen, which means there is more fuel for combustion and more power for your vehicle. Your cold air intake also makes for freer airflow and less hot air building up in the engine compartment.

There are other benefits, too. An aftermarket cold air intake removes the need for a box to encompass the air filter, replacing it with smoother intake tubes. This allows the engine to have an uninterrupted air flow.

But will a cold air intake really enhance the performance of your vehicle? The short answer is yes, although the way in which your engine performance improves may vary. Improved horsepower and fuel efficiency are both possible, though not guaranteed; it just depends on your vehicle, the aftermarket product and the way that you drive. However, an aftermarket cold air intake can’t help but improve airflow and general vehicle performance.


Making a Decision About Cold Air Intakes


It is important to note that cold air intakes are strictly aftermarket products. For assistance installing or maintaining an aftermarket product of any kind, you’ll likely need to go to an auto shop like your local Meineke Car Care Center. A trusted technician can help you make the decision of whether or not to invest in a cold air intake.