You’re in your room during summer and you’re A/C has totally failed to fulfill its function. You resort to going to the window and open it. Immediately, you feel an influx of cold breeze entering your room and cool the hot stuffy air. That’s when you’ll really understand how it feels when your car is filled with hot air going around the engine, it’s stuffy and it can’t function properly. This is where the Cold Air Intake or CAI comes into play.
What is a Cold Air Intake?
Your Cold Air Intakes acts like your engine’s air conditioning. It is the part of your vehicle that allows your engine to finally breathe and expel hot gasses circulating around it. It is an engine modification or mod that helps your engine breathe in cooler air.
How does the Cold Air Intake work?
Your Cold Air Intake helps pull cooler air into the engine to increase airflow and reduce the engine temperature by moving the air filter outside of the engine. The cooler air that is sucked into the engine is used for combustion and thus allows better combustion and definitely more power. There is stronger power brought in due to the cooler denser air that also takes oxygen with it that easily burns in the engine’s combustion chamber.
Originally, your engine comes with a box that surrounds the air filter, installing a Cold Air Intake removes this box and installs a large diameter intake tube instead. The intake tubes are smoother with lesser bends and wider causing an uninterrupted flow of air straight to your engine.
In other words, your Cold Air Intake is a modification that reduces temperature and improves engine air flow significantly.
What are the benefits of a Cold Air Intake?
Not a lot of people enjoy the true luxury of owning a performance vehicle, that’s because most people view vehicles as effective machines that bring them to where they want to be. But car enthusiasts view vehicles much differently than others. Vehicles are upgradable machines that can be fine-tuned to become excellent machines that provide function and better thrill, they become the ultimate performance vehicle.
Cold Air Intakes are practically one of the most basic car modifications because they are the easiest to do and one of the cheapest modifications that you can do to your car. There are plenty of benefits why you should opt to add the CAI as your engine mod.
- Lesser Trips to the Gas Station. Cold Air Intakes help suck in cooler air to your engine. This cooler air brings in Oxygen which is highly combustible. More combustible air means that you would be consuming lesser fuel to burn. This then helps your engine have better fuel economy.
- Awesome Horsepower and Speed. Engine mods always differ from vehicle to vehicle but new air intakes increase your vehicle’s performance with an average of about five to 20 horsepower to your vehicle’s average speed. It is also very effective in increasing your vehicles speed and its time to accelerate because there is more air available for your engine to burn.
- Stronger and Healthier Rev. You have to admit, it’s awesome to hear your engine revving like a muscle car. This is because of a higher volume of air the cruises through your air intake giving it that roar. But, there are other intakes out there that muffle the roar for those who enjoy the benefits of better engine performance with less noise.
- Better Filter Efficacy. Your vehicle comes with the typical stock air intake with an air filter that needs to be replaced every now and then. These filters screen the air the flows through and prevent debris and tiny particles that may eventually damage your vehicle but cold air intakes have a built-in filter that only needs to be cleaned every 25,000 to 50,000 miles. It’s more effective and definitely less expensive.
- Longer Engine Life Span. Your engine comes to life with better airflow and cooler temperature giving your engine a longer lifespan. It reduces your engine’s chances of overheating. It also helps other parts of your engine function better because of an improved air flow.
- Overall Better Engine Performance. With things mentioned above, you can’t say that you won’t have any improvements in your vehicle’s engine performance.
- Easy installation. You are sure that installing a cold air intake doesn’t need a car expert or a mechanic to do it. You can just do the modification yourself.
- Inexpensive modification. Cold air intake installations are relatively cheaper than any other engine modification in the market.
What are the different types of Air intakes? Which one is the best?
There are three different types of air intakes. They are designed differently but still have the same aim: bring cooler denser and oxygen-filled air into the internal combustion chamber of your engine.
- Stock Air Intake. This is the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) intake. This is what your vehicle comes with right after the car dealers. It comes with the paper filter and it is made with multiple bends to muffle the sound of the engine.
- Short Ram Intake. The main function of this intake is that it sucks more warm air than cold air intake. It functions more as an intake that reduces the circulating warm air around the engine since it has a shorter tube and has more access to warm air.
- Cold Air Intake. This is the air intake with a longer tube with lesser bends. It functions more as an intake that brings in cooler air into the engine. It has better access to cooler air thus pulling oxygen-filled air into the engine. This is better in fuel economy and improves temperature conditions suitable for the engine to work with.
What should we look for in choosing a Best Cold Air Intake?
Although cold air intakes are readily available in the market, you have to consider many things before buying one. Here are some head’s up in choosing the right cold air intake for your vehicle:
Your Car Model
Depending on your car model, cold air intakes may either be compatible with your engine or not. Some car models restrict the installation for cold air intakes because it would only allow short ram intakes or the standard air intake. This is because manufacturers see that cold air intakes might limit your engine’s performance instead of improving it.
Your vehicle model would also dictate which cold air intake you should buy because of the build of your engine under the hood. You might end up buying a cold air intake that won’t fit in the available spaces in your car.
There are also car brands that sell their own cold air intakes that are effectively compatible with your vehicle. You have to put this as your first priority or criteria in choosing the right cold air filter.
After market Car Parts Brand
It’s not easy choosing the right cold air intake in the market because there are a lot. You have to choose the best and most appropriate brand for your car. You may even opt to choose only from widely known brands. Some care manufacturers would even recommend brands that suit your engine well.
Plastic or Metal?
Although it doesn’t affect the performance of your vehicle, you have the choice of buying a specialized plastic tube (or composite intake tube) or a metal (aluminum) intake tube. Take note: aluminum tubes tend to run slightly hotter than plastic ones but not significantly. They still function just as well as the other.
Roaring Rev or Muffled Start?
Most car enthusiasts love the louder roaring engine start. But as a car owner, preferences differ, if you prefer a quieter engine start, you may opt for a cold air intake with a muffler that reduces the sound but not reduce the performance a cold air intake can introduce to your vehicle. If a roaring flashy start is what you want then go ahead and buy a smooth long tube cold air intake without a sound reducer.
Style or Substance?
Go chrome or just go simple? Since cold air intakes are extended outwards—usually around the fender wells—you can opt for a flashy air intake like chrome or painted pipework. However, it is considerably more expensive than the standard air intake. From a range of $180-$200 but for flashier cold air intake takes an average of $400.
In this case, design is not about considering the engine’s fashion sense but rather maximizing the capability of a cold air intakes ability to improve your engine’s performance. Look for a pipework design with a wider surface area; it brings in cooler air in larger amounts. Choose a filter with deeper pleats as well because this allows a much finer filtered air entering your engine. These two key factors, you are sure to get the most of your engine modification.
If you are living in a damp/ humid area or a flood prone area, then you should probably buy a filter with a water bypass. Without it, your cold air intake will experience a hydro-lock, which means it won’t function when it’s wet. You may also opt for a hydro shield for your CAI.
Some CAI—often short ram intakes—have a heat shield. If you spot an intake with a heat shield then go for it. It blocks some for that heat that comes from your engine. It doesn’t often affect your CAI’s function but it’s still safe to have.
CAIs function doesn’t change from brand to brand or even design. You should consider your budget most when you want to modify your engine. Flashy pipe works are more expensive but aftermarket car parts brands can also play a huge role in your impending expense.
Although CAIs are easy to install, you may end up finding yourself with a few things to assemble before actually buying an air intake. If you are a first-timer, then go for the assembled air intake. Also, choose the right air intake that fits your engine’s lay-out, you might end up with a CAI that won’t fit in your fender wells if you aren’t careful.
Modifying your engine can give you and your engine the best of its abilities, you just have to be meticulous and choose the right mod for your engine. Knowing your car and your engine better will give you the benefit of maximizing your engine’s full performance. Plus, you get to enjoy your vehicle even more if your do choose to modify your vehicle.
Cold air intakes are better options for your vehicle with more pros than cons. And as a first-timer, you may need to be more informed about installing one in your car before actually doing it.