Cold Air Intake Pros & Cons

Lately, there has been a lot of discussion about cold air intake systems. Some people claim that their engines performed far better after installing a cold air intake. Worryingly, an equal number of people seem to think it has no effect at all and can harm your car’s performance. Which group is speaking the truth?

There are both staggeringly positive and ultimately negative aspects of having a cold air intake. It is entirely up to you, the car owner, as to whether the pros outweigh the cons.

To have a more comprehensive understanding of what could make a cold air intake either a dream come true or an utter nightmare, you must understand a few essential facts about cold air intakes — understanding how a cold air intake functions are the first step.

What is a Cold Air Intake?

A cold air intake is an aftermarket system of products designed to introduce fresh air to the inside of your car’s engine. They vary in size, shape, design, and budget, but the function of a cold air intake remains the same.

If you were jogging on a warm day, a gentle cold gust of wind would feel refreshing. You’d likely take a deep breath and feel recharged enough to keep jogging. A cold air intake should cause your engine to react in much the same way, unleashing a little hidden horsepower and increasing fuel efficiency.

However, a cold air intake unit is only one of a multitude of components designed to improve automobile performance. Its effectiveness varies from car to car and owner to owner, with an enormous number of factors influencing this rate.

Consequently, installing a cold air intake alone may not be enough to achieve the power and efficiency for which you’re looking. These are only some of the first cold air intake pros and cons.

How Does a Cold Air Intake Work?

As we stated before, cold air intakes work by blasting cold air into the inside of your combustion engine. Cold or fresh air contains more oxygen than warm air, which typically includes a high percentage of moisture. Moisture from warm air can eventually contribute to mechanical failure in any part of an automobile.

But with cold air, and the subsequent burst of oxygen inside of your engine, you gain more efficient fuel consumption, and a higher thrust of power. Cold air intakes achieve this effect by removing the engine’s internal air filter and placing it on the outside of the engine via the cold air intake. Often, you’ll find that cold air intakes snake toward the front of the vehicle, where airflow is unimpeded.

This direct positioning can be a problem on wet or rainy days. Should water or moisture enter your cold air intake, your engine is sure to get wet. A wet engine doesn’t fire very well.

Ensuring that your cold air intake comes equipped with a bypass valve can help prevent a wet engine. Correct, smart placement of the air intake tubing can also significantly reduce the chances of water getting into your engine.

Can a Cold Air Intake Improve My Vehicle’s Performance?

Though this may seem like the beginning to our list of cold air intake pros and cons, it is not. Before we determine the pros and cons, we must first answer the question of validity. Can a cold air intake improve my car’s performance?

The answer to this question is both yes and no. This answer may seem a bit confusing, so please allow me to clarify.


When you combine a cold air intake with other engine modifications, you are more likely to see a noticeable effect.

Even on its own, it will increase your vehicle’s performance sparingly. Check with your local auto body shop before making a purchase and be sure that the cold air intake you choose is the right one for your car.

Even if you are accustomed to working on your vehicle from home, it is wise to have the assistance or guidance of a certified mechanic before attempting to install a cold air intake, as it involves the removal and modification of some of your vehicle’s most integral components.


Though cold air intakes aren’t nearly as expensive as some other forms of aftermarket modification systems, they do typically run at least a few hundred dollars, especially after time and labor are factored in.

For the budget and the amount of time required to get a cold air intake working correctly, you could have a complete and comprehensive tune-up and cleaning done by professionals.

Not only that but installing a cold air intake in a car that is still under a manufacturer’s warranty, immediately voids that warranty. You may be sacrificing excellent coverage for the sake of a slight increase in performance potential.

Cold Air Intake Pros and Cons

Though we’ve discussed how a cold air intake can and cannot approve a vehicle’s performance, we’ve yet to make an exact comparison of a cold air intakes pros and cons.

To better understand whether a cold air intake is an excellent choice for you or not, it’s best to examine the best and worst qualities associated with it.


  • Could potentially increase fuel efficiency and power, especially when combined with other upgrades.
  • Is more affordable than other aftermarket systems.


  • Requires advanced knowledge of automobile mechanics to install.
  • May not provide many benefits.

The Final Say on Cold Air Intakes

By exploring the cold air intake pros and cons, I have come to one conclusion:

Cold air intakes are not for everyone. For those with newer vehicles that already get excellent mileage, perhaps a different modification would provide more benefits. For those who live in the garage, waiting for the next opportunity to make their car more powerful, more beautiful, and more efficient, you probably already have some form of cold air intake installed.

The decision to install a cold air intake is entirely up to the car owner. There are a few great possibilities that could arise from installing one, but there are also possible damaging consequences as well.

Perhaps the most attractive quality of a cold air intake, besides its ability to increase engine performance, is its affordability, allowing far more car enthusiasts to experiment and find what works best for them.

Rick Man Joorian

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