What Does a Cold Air Intake Do? (Explained)

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You’ve probably heard lots of talks about cold air intakes – how they can help to increase horsepower, improve engine efficiency, and also help to checkmate overheating. All these talks are, to some extent, true about cold air intakes. But exactly what does a cold air intake do in a car?

From the name, you can guess its function, a cold air intake works to bring in additional “cooler” air into the combustion chamber to keep the engine cool. When the engine is cool, it’d deliver more efficiency and power than it would do if it were overheating.

Well, a lot of drivers do not believe that cold intakes really do make any difference. This article clearly analyzes how cold intakes work, so you can decide whether you need one for your car, or not.

What Does a Cold Air Intake Do?

The whole ideology of cold air intakes started when drivers and car owners lookout for ways to improve the power and efficiency of the engine in their vehicles. Most people drive in for “Tune-Ups,” hoping that their car engine would perform much better after the service.

Now, talking of cold intakes, the concept is simple – to create a means for “Cold” air to penetrate a “hot” performing engine, providing the engine with more oxygen while also cooling it down to avoid overheating. According to research and science, cold air has more oxygen than hot/heated air.

When you start a car and drive, give it a few minutes and the engine would start heating up. Although there are factory built-in provisions and systems (such as the coolant system) to keep the engine cool, some drivers believe that factory provisions aren’t satisfying enough, hence the need for an add-on.

Cold air intakes can be factory-built into a car or attached as an add-on on cars that do not have it Built-in. The main – and practically the only – purpose a cold air intake serves is to suck cold air into an engine, and by doing that, the engine’s performance and efficiency can be improved.

By bringing in more cold air, the engine gets more oxygen inside the chambers, which improves the richness of the air-fuel ratio, and the result is improved engine performance. However, most aftermarket cold intake manufacturers claim that their products can boost engine horsepower – that’s not true.

Is Cold Air Take Worth It?

If your car’s engine often overheats, a cold intake can help fix the problem and keep your car’s engine cool at all times. This would certainly lead to improved engine performance, but not necessarily an increase in horsepower.

Every car engine has a rated horsepower, there’s no way an engine’s horsepower can be increased – not even by adding a cold air intake. More so, installing a cold air intake – OEM or aftermarket option – may void the warranty on new cars.

The plain truth is this; by adding a cold air intake, along with other engine modifications, you’d have a “much more” efficient engine. This also means you’d be getting the most out of your engine.

If you notice an increase in horsepower after installing a cold air intake, it simply means your engine needed more air to unlock more horsepower. The cold intake didn’t add more horsepower to the engine, it helped to improve the engine’s efficiency by bringing in “colder” air.


So, what does a cold air intake do? It simply sucks cold air into the engine chambers, to supply the engine with more oxygen, which can lead to a significant increase in the engine’s performance and fuel efficiency.

A cold air intake does not increase an engine’s horsepower – don’t fall for those marketing fallacies. Finally, installing a cold air intake actually has its advantages and disadvantages.

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