Does a Cold Air Intake Actually Work?

Some drivers are in an argument with someone regarding whether the cold air intake improves car performance or not.  If you are thinking about installing cold air intake and you wonder, do cold air intakes work? We offer you a clear answer to that question. 

do cold air intakes work
A cold air intake is believed that it is a valuable addition to your vehicle that can make a significant difference in driving performance. Source: Engineering Explained / Youtube

As an owner of a car, you may consider installing a cold air intake. A cold air intake is believed that it is a valuable addition to your vehicle that can make a significant difference in driving performance. Since every car owner wants to upgrade the car’s power and general performance, it comes to changing the new part of the car such as exhaust systems, bolt-on accessories. But the downside of it is the high cost you have to pay for it. A cold air intake is a fairly economical modification and easier to install than most other engine modifications. So do cold air intakes work or not? Let’s find out the truth about cold air intakes here!

What Is Cold Air Intake?

First of all, let’s talk about the definition and function of cold air intake.

Cold Air Intake (CAI) is usually an aftermarket assembly of parts used to bring relatively cool air into a car’s internal-combustion engine. The CAI will not add a lot of power to your engine like other engine modifications but it helps your engine in some ways.

do cold air intakes really work
Cold Air Intake (CAI) is usually an aftermarket assembly of parts used to bring relatively cool air into a car’s internal-combustion engine. Source: Amazon

An interesting example to help you understand better the function of cold air intake is cold. Think about when you have a cold that clogs up your head and restricts your breathing. Then go running, you will feel better right? So cold air intake is like a medicine for your engine, letting your engine finally breath.

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 into the combustion chamber, which 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 heated air from the engine.


How Does Cold Air Intake Work?

Before going to know “do cold air intakes really work”, it’s necessary to know how do cold air intakes work. Actually, the way it works is similar to the human lungs. 

At first, air passes through a much larger performance air filter. The filter uses a depth loading design to remove more dirt from air, then keep it trapped inside a matrix of sticky cotton fibers. The matrix of sticky cotton fibers allows a high volume of air to always be able to pass through. After that the air is cleaned, it flows into a wider intake tube. The tube typically has completely smooth interior surfaces and less restrictive curves. By that, a cold air intake system can always feed the engine a high volume of turbulence-free air.

The air filter is situated so that it can collect the coldest air. It often requires a special heat shield to prevent warm engine bay air from entering the system. But a front mounted ram air intake will relocate the air filter to a high-pressure zone outside of the engine compartment so it can collect the coldest air as possible and the high air pressure forces more air into the system as the speed increases. By improving the airflow dynamics, a front-mounted cold air intake system is able to deliver more horsepower. 

Check out the video to know how cold air intake work!

So Do Cold Air Intake Really Work?

As you already know how do cold air intake work, the answer is clear that YES, a cold air intake really works. 

In order to make power, the cylinders have to inhale air to create the explosion that produces wheel-turning horsepower and torque. Since cold air contains more oxygen molecules than warm air, injecting a higher volume of oxygen-rich air into the cylinders allows the engine to burn fuel more completely during the combustion cycle. This “combustion efficiency” results in an increase in horsepower and torque, using roughly the same amount of fuel.

the truth about cold air intakes
So does the cold air intake really work. Source:

However, there are other opinions that your intake system can improve performance if and only if it can achieve two things:

number 1: Whether it can take cooler air relative to the temperature of the air that your current factory intake is taking to the engine because cooler air is denser and what that means is that oxygen molecules are closer together. So you can basically push in more air into the same space or the same size of the engine and when you can do that you can add in more fuel, make more power, and go faster. 

The number 2 condition is whether a cold air intake setup can be less restrictive than the factory intake.

In summary, there is no doubt that by installing the CAI, the engine is able to burn the fuel more completely and result in additional horsepower. You can check with some specialists in your trustful garage, they have a lot of knowledge about maintenance tips so they will give you more evidence for this statement.

The Benefit Of Cold Air Intake

It’s obviously your expected answer from us to the question “do cold air intakes work”. The reduced intake air temperature helps to maintain the use of a denser intake of air into the engine. Lowering the intake air temperature also eliminates the risk of pre-ignition fuel/air pre-ignition over time. This preserves the benefit of burning more fuel/air per engine cycle, increasing engine power. We are now introducing to you some benefits of this modification. 

We are now introducing to you some benefits of this modification. 

1. Better Mileage

Thanks to the cold air intake, the air fuel ratio is optimized. With the engine receiving a sufficient amount of oxygen, the vehicle is bound to provide better mileage. Otherwise, in the case of an insufficient amount of oxygen, the vehicle will burn more fuel to compensate for less oxygen. By increasing the density and volume of the intake air mixture, the combustion efficiency becomes more efficient than before. You can see that the cold air intake and mpg efficiency are connected. One of the other benefits of a cold air intake system is reduced gas costs it can give. You won’t notice a significant increase in fuel economy, sometimes, just only 2-3 mpg, but with today’s fuel prices, it’s better than nothing.

2. More Horsepower

The amount of air used during the combustion cycle is one of the factors that determine an engine’s output. Cold air allows us to burn fuel more efficiently than hot air. That’s why installing a cold air intake can help to increase horsepower. The horsepower boost you can expect when installing the intake ranges from 10 to 25 or even 30 hp in some cases.


3. Enhanced The Sound

The cold air intake helps to improve the engine performance. By that, it increases the amount of air sucked in by cold air intake and as the result, more intense air flow produces that throaty growl, desired by many vehicle owners. Please note that you only get better sound when pushing the car to its limit and a pleasant and quiet ride when driving in the morning.

4. Increased Acceleration

Once installed, you will feel the difference every time you press the gas pedal. The cold intake will increase the responsiveness of your car, as the vehicle can reach its intended speed faster when a larger volume of denser air is delivered to the engine. By installing a cold air intake, you can feel the acceleration better than before. So most people who enjoy speedy acceleration prefer to install CAI.


How Much Does A Cold Air Intake Cost?

Typically, cold air intake will cost you a few hundred dollars depending on the exact make and model of the vehicle. You will pay for a normal car intake anywhere from $30 to a few $100. And air filters for each vehicle can cost you a few dollars or more. 

Generally, replacing your car’s standard intake system with a cold air intake system will range from $150 to $500 depending on the system. A high-quality cold intake can cost you somewhere between $200 and $500. This amount can take a little consideration but the increase in horsepower to price ratio can prove the cold air intake a good solution for you. 

Sum Up

We believe that you had an answer to whether or not the cold air intake saves your fuel which in return saves your money. It is all about doing cold air intake work. It’s obviously a helpful answer for you and you can think about it when deciding to modify your car. With all the truth about cold air intake, we revealed in this article, hopefully, it will be helpful for you. Do not forget to follow our maintenance tips for better repairing your car.