In the ongoing quest to make our vehicles more powerful and fun to drive, we've come up with some great aftermarket systems. Of course there are lots of changes you can make to the engine, like adding a new exhaust system, supercharger or turbocharger but seriously, that stuff costs tons of money and you'll probably spend more than a weekend installing those parts.
And then there are cold air intakes.
Cold air intakes are an inexpensive modification (typically a few hundred dollars) and easier to install than most other engine modifications. No, they won't add quite as much power as those other engine mods, but they will help your engine in some other ways.
Think of a factory air intake system as if you had a cold and your head is clogged and your breathing restricted. Now go running. You're not going to breathe very well, are you? A cold air intake is like the amazing medicine that allows your engine to finally "breathe."
How? Cold air intakes move the air filter outside of the engine compartment so that cooler air can be sucked into the engine for combustion. A cold air intake is installed outside the engine compartment, away from the heat created by the engine itself. That way, it can bring in cooler air from outside and direct it into the engine. Cooler air is denser, so it brings more oxygen into the combustion chamber, and that 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 hot air from the engine. Since hot air from the engine will rise, the lower placement also captures the coolest, densest air possible.
Not only does a cold air intake reduce the air temperature, but it also increases airflow. Aftermarket intakes remove the need for a box surrounding the air filter and instead use large-diameter intake tubes that are smoother, have fewer bends and are often wider than the original factory intake. Removing the air box and using smoother tubes gives the engine uninterrupted airflow.
Sounds pretty good right? But does it actually work?