Top 8 Cold Air Intake Pros and Cons

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Almost every car owner or driver would openly welcome anything that promises to improve the performance of their car’s engine.

Cold air intakes have always been advertised as one of the aftermarket add-ons you can install in your car to achieve an increase in engine performance, efficiency, and horsepower.

Well, cold air intakes typically improve engine performance, but they don’t perform all those “magic” the manufacturers claim they do.

There are advantages and disadvantages of installing aftermarket products in your car. Hence, you should know these cold air intake pros and cons before proceeding to install it.

How Does Cold Air Intakes Work?

It works in a simple way – provides a channel for “Cold” air to get into the engine. Cold air has more oxygen, when it gets into the engine chambers, it aids combustion, and in turn, unlocks the engine for better performance.

Well, even without a cold air intake add-on, as long as your car engine doesn’t overheat, and you’re using the right oil, the engine should always run at its best. It is not advisable to use air intake in new cars, it may void the manufacturer’s warranty.

Cold Air Intake Pros and Cons

Before proceeding to install an aftermarket cold air intake, here is some critical information you need to know. More like a tradition, we’d start with the advantages, and then move to the disadvantages.

Pros of Cold Air Intake

1. Increases Air Inflow To The Engine

The major positive side of adding a cold air intake is that it provides a channel for more “cold” air to get into the engine. Well, there are pretty small openings where air can penetrate from, the engine bay; however, a cold air intake is specially designed for this purpose; hence, it works better.

With increased “Cold” air inflow into the engine, chances of experiencing overheating are very minimal. When an engine is always cool, it runs at its best – with higher efficiency, delivering more power and torque, and this stands in contrast to the performance of a heated – or overheating – engine.

2. Lets You Use Any Air Filter

Well, with a cold air intake installed in your car, you can then use any air filter (of any type, and from any brand).

The intake channel/valve is already doing about 50% of what a typical air filter is designed to do; hence, its presence gives you the freedom to use any air filter, including cheap options in the market.

3. Faster Response

One of the benefits of using cold air intakes is that they generally make the engine respond faster when you throttle/accelerate.

Well, not like car engines do not respond fast to throttling, but a hot engine typically responds slowly. So, by keeping the engine cooler, cold air intakes help to improve engines’ efficiency.

4. Longer Engine Life

An engine that overheats often would wear out faster – compared to an engine that operates in a “cooler” environment.

Not like a cold air intake would stop an engine from ever getting hot, but it helps to ensure that the temperature inside the engine doesn’t go above operational level. That way, the engine is sure to last longer.

5. May Improve Fuel Efficiency

This is not foolproof, or a standard, but adding a cold air intake to your vehicle may help to trigger a slight increase in fuel efficiency.

Yes, this happens because the intake introduces more air into the chamber, resulting in a richer air-fuel ratio (with more air being present and less fuel being mixed); that way, you may experience higher fuel economy.

Cons of Cold Air Intake

1. Void Warranty on New Cars

One of the prominent disadvantages of installing a cold air intake is that it could void the warranty on your new car – especially the manufacturer’s warranty.

If your car is still under the manufacturer’s warranty and you’d love to keep the warranty valid, then you shouldn’t install an aftermarket add-on (ex. Cold air intake).

Notwithstanding, adding an aftermarket accessory to your car doesn’t instantly void the warranty on your new car. However, if the car starts showing different issues that are traceable to the installed aftermarket product, then, the warranty is voided.

2. Hydro-Locking

Air has moisture – when air flows constantly into a particular (metallic) surface, over time, the surface would be extremely moist. That said, as too much air flows into the engine through the cold air intake, it gradually, makes the engine to be full of moisture.

Excessive moisture inside the engine can cause hydro-locking – the engine components could get clogged and stuck. When this happens, it is a big issue because it could completely wreck the engine – sending you to the market for a new engine set.

3. Inaccurate Meter Readings

In most cases, when you add a cold air intake, you need to subsequently change the meters in your car.

Otherwise, the stock meters would give inaccurate readings to the ECU, which would result in incoherent air-fuel mixtures, and also lead to incoherent syncing of certain components – altogether, this can contribute to “messy” engine performance or even breakdown of the engine.


These are the main cold air intake pros and cons you need to know. A lot of drivers still install this aftermarket component in their cars; if you still wish to follow suit, it’s cool. Cold air intakes do not increase engine horsepower as most “sources” may say.

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