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What Does a Cold Air Intake Do? 

What Does a Cold Air Intake Do 

If you’re wondering “what does a cold air intake do?” The cold air intakes are aftermarket components responsible for regulating the air's temperature before entering the combustion system. With these intakes, the combustion system works more efficiently and the vehicle achieves better fuel economy. 

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Air intakes are responsible for bringing the required amount of oxygen to the combustion system. Oxygen is a vital element in any combustion process after the fuel. 

Intake types changed over the years, and currently, vehicles do not come with the temperature regulator that is usually associated with the intakes. As a result, most combustion systems suffer from issues with unregulated air temperature entering the engine.

With the invention of cold air intakes, companies claim that vehicles achieve better efficiency and enhanced fuel economy. This article provides you with an overview of cold air intake and what it exactly does. The article also provided additional information to help you gain a better understanding of the cold air intake. 

What is the cold air intake?

Temperature is one of the very sensitive elements when it comes to any combustion system. Your engine is under extreme temperature all the time, and automakers usually try their best to regulate the engine temperature through many features.

Most older vehicles manufactured between the 1970s and 1990s control the temperature of the air entering the engine using the thermostatic air intake system. However, once modern vehicles introduced new fuel injection systems, the thermostatic air intake system no longer exists. Thus, all air entering the engine through the factory-installed intakes does not control the engine's air temperature.

 Many companies invented new aftermarket components for cold air intake. These companies claim that the cold air intakes allow for airflow at the right temperature, enhancing the vehicle's fuel economy, efficiency, and performance. 

The biggest advantage of using a cold air intake is that colder air usually has more oxygen per air volume due to the higher density. Thus, with the limited amount of air entering the engine, the engine should produce the required combustion with the minimum amount of air. 

What does the cold air intake do?

The primary job of the air intake is very simple, and as the name suggests, all the intake does is to bring air from outside to the inside of your combustion system.

While the intake job is not very complicated, your engine will not receive the required amount of air if the intake is not in good shape. As a result, there won't be any combustion, and your engine won't generate any energy to get the vehicle moving. 

The biggest difference between the cold air intake and regular intake is that it continuously maintains a lower air temperature. Thus, your engine won't need a huge amount of air to generate the required amount of energy.

The common cold air intakes usually have a metallic tube instead of the traditional air box. This tube relates to a certain filter that is protected using heat Shields. Since the air filter is exposed to extreme temperatures generated from the engine, there is a very high chance for this filter to get damaged in a short time. Thus, with the heat shields, the air filter should be protected and achieves the longest lifespan. 

According to automotive experts, colder air intakes usually enhance the vehicle's fuel economy and protect the environment. 

Can a cold air intake damage your engine?

While the cold air intake provides so many benefits to your vehicle, the intake must be installed properly to prevent causing engine damages. 

Installing a cold air intake is not a complicated job. It involves very simple steps. You should find a lot of available tutorials on the Internet and YouTube.

However, when you install an aftermarket component, your vehicle will treat it as a stranger, and some of the sensors might not work with it properly. For instance, the cold air intake well bypasses the airflow sensor, and immediately, your engine will throw a check engine light. 

Check engine lights can be linked to simple issues and might also be related to a very complicated problem. Therefore, even if you know that the check engine light is related to the new cold air intake, you should take the problem seriously and visit the nearest repair shop to get the vehicle inspected and repaired if necessary.

That's why we always recommend that even if you know how to install a new cold air intake, some preparations and other steps need to be done to make sure that your vehicle does not throw any error when installing the cold air intake. 

Therefore, even if it will cost you a little more on labor, you should better get the new cold air intake installed at an independent professional shop or a dealership. This way, you prevent any major damages to the surrounding components. 

Do cold air intakes increase horsepower?

Yes, installing a cold air intake makes a big difference in your vehicle's overall horsepower. According to experts, drawing a colder air-fuel combustion system allows your engine to produce power more efficiently, enhancing your engine's overall ability and horsepower.

In some situations, adding a cold air intake might increase your vehicle's horsepower by 5 to 20 ponies.

Thus, it is not just a simple difference when installing the cold air intake. You will see a significant enhancement to your vehicle’s horsepower and fuel economy. 

How much does it cost to install a cold air intake? 

Installing a cold air intake usually costs between $150 and $500, depending on your vehicle's type and the location where you get the job done. 

While the cost might be a little high in some vehicles, most automotive experts recommend that it's worth it because you will see a significant difference in the vehicle's fuel economy, which will cut your gas bills shortly. You also notice a big difference in the vehicle's overall power and performance. 

What are the benefits of installing a cold air intake? 

As of now, you understand that cold air intake has many benefits; some of them have to do with the engine's power and fuel economy. Let's take a closer look at the summary of the general benefits your vehicle can get when installing a cold air intake:

  • Enhanced fuel economy

Since the combustion system requires a certain ratio of air and fuel, when installing a cold guarantee, your vehicle's overall fuel economy will be improved. This is because the cold air intake allows for more oxygen in less and volume of air. Thus, your engine doesn't need to burn more fuel than necessary because the required amount of oxygen is always available. As a result, you will see a big difference in the vehicle's overall fuel economy. 

  • Improved horsepower

As we indicated earlier, since the engine has the optimum level of oxygen needed for the combustion system, it will generate the required amount of power in the shortest time. That's why you'll see a significant improvement in the vehicle’s horsepower. 

  • Reusable filters

Older traditional air intakes used disposable filters, which adds to the maintenance bills for many drivers. With the addition of the cold air intakes, you deal with reusable filters, which means that you don't have to replace the filter every time you have an issue. According to experts, all you need to do to deal with the reusable filters is to clean them once every 25,000 miles, which is considered a decent distance for many drivers. 

  • Better engine sound

When you install a cold air intake, you won't have to worry about the roaring sounds coming from the engine. Most cold air intakes improve the vehicle's sounds and perform quietly. The cold air intakes also have benefits to the engine's exhaust system as well. 

  • Improved acceleration

Acceleration, horsepower, and fuel economy are interrelated components. When one of these components is improved, you'll see a big difference in the other components. That's why when installing a cold air intake, you'll notice better vehicle handling a much easier acceleration. 

  • Continuous airflow 

Finally, when installing a cold air intake, you don't have to worry about interrupting air flows to the engine. The airbox is no longer there, which means that your vehicle doesn't have to encompass its filter. Air flows smoothly through the designated tubes to the engine whenever needed. 

What are the current symptoms of a bad cold air intake? 

Since installing a cold air intake is considered an investment. However, it's not very expensive; drivers need to keep an eye for any signs indicating that the cold air intake is failing.

Here is a list of some of the common science you need to keep an eye for: 

  • Reduction in the vehicle's overall performance
  • Check engine light illuminating
  • Surging while idling

As you noticed, most of these symptoms can be related to multiple issues. As a result, we always recommend Beth whenever you notice any dimension symptoms. You take your vehicle to the nearest repair shop and have your mechanic perform a thorough inspection to ensure that the problem is coming from the cold air intake, not from somewhere else.

How often should you replace the cold air intake? 

Another important aspect about the cold air intakes is that they last longer than the factory standard guarantees. Usually, a cold air intake lasts between 30,000 miles to 40,000 miles. On the other hand, those regular factory air intakes last up to only 15,000 miles because they're made of paper filters that are susceptible to damage is faster than the sturdy cold air intakes.

What happens if you don't clean your cold air intake? 

Since the primary component of the air intake is a filter, it makes sense for these filters to get clogged over time of use. Like any other filter in your vehicle, the cold air intake filter needs to be replaced whenever it gets clogged.

Ignoring a clogged cold air intake filter affects your vehicle's overall performance, and you will see a significant reduction in the vehicle’s horsepower. Imagine if your engine is not receiving the required amount of air at the right time with the right frequency, the engine will not be able to create the explosion that generates the power. The engine might also run rich, which means that your engine consumes more fuel than air during the combustion process. 

In both cases, your engine will not perform as it should, and you'd better get the filter cleaned as soon as possible if you don't like to deal with a significant reduction in the vehicle's fuel economy. 


Cold air intakes are aftermarket editions that enhance the vehicle's horsepower, efficiency, and overall performance.

The primary job of the cold air intake is to draw colder air, which usually has more oxygen than cooler or hotter air. Thus, your engine will produce the necessary power with the minimum amount of air.

Before making a final decision of installing and no cold air intake, it is important for you as a driver to evaluate the overall situation and see if it's worth it or not. If your car has many other problems associated with major parts like the engine or transmission, it might be better for you to sell your car to Cash Cars Buyer and use the payment towards a better vehicle. 

Cash Cars Buyer is one of the top-rated car removal companies in the nation that guarantees to pay you the top dollars and will provide you with free towing despite your living location around the United States. 

The best thing about Cash Cars Buyer is that our process is very straightforward and doesn't take more than a couple of days to get your vehicle removed safely and for the most money. 

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