How Does a Cold Air Intake System Improve Engine Performance

January 27, 2012

A cold air intake system is one way to increase engine performance.  An engine operates by taking in air (oxygen), mixing it with fuel and burning the resulting mixture to produce power. Why is this important? If you increase the amount of air flowing into an engine, you can increase the power output by adding additional fuel. Adding fuel is easy, but increasing airflow into an engine is more difficult. This is where a cold air intake system comes into play.

A cold air intake system increases airflow by dropping the air coming into an engine to a lower temperature. Why is this important? As air gets colder, it gets denser. This means you get more oxygen within a smaller volume. More oxygen means more power. Increasing oxygen levels by this method can be found mostly in the racing industry. Many racers will dump ice on their intake manifolds and intercoolers to get a temporary increase in horsepower.  Another aspect of a cold air intake system is reduced air flow resistance. All of the pipes in this system have been polished and tuned to reduce air flow resistance. This reduces unwanted turbulence within the pipes which would otherwise reduce airflow into the engine.

There are many ways to increase airflow into an engine. Turbochargers, superchargers, and cold air intakes all qualify in this category.  Cold air intakes are the cheapest and easiest of the three to install. Cold air intakes also do not cause a major increase in fuel consumption. It is a cheap alternative when you don't have the time or money to invest in the engine modifications needed for the other systems.

Related Questions and Answers

Is It Safe to Increase Any Car's Airflow With a Cold Air Intake?

During production your car was designed with sufficient car airflow mechanisms. There are, however, those who will want to enhance the performance of their vehicles by installing a cold air intake which is meant to lower the temperatures in the engine as well as increase the amount of cool air available for combustion in the engine. Though the increased air flow and reduced temperatures are a plus, cold air intake openings can be a source of trouble, especially in case of flooding, as water can get to the engine through them. There is also a good chance that after installing a cold air intake you will lose the warranty on your engine, as most manufacturers do not accept liability on modified engines.

What is the Increase in Fuel Consumption When Using A Cold Air Intake

Ideally, cold air intakes should reduce and not increase fuel consumption, as they introduce a higher amount of oxygen into the engine, thus aiding in more efficient burning of fuel. However, it will usually turn out to be the opposite because installing one will normally change your driving habits. A cold air intake will cause your car to roar and this new sound causes most people to push the gas to the floor as they enjoy listening to the powerful sound from their vehicles. Flooring your gas pedal means you will be consuming more fuel. So to keep your fuel consumption down, you should work at resisting the temptation to push your gas pedal to the floor.

Where can I Buy a Cold Air Intake System?

There are a number of good places to buy cold air intake system installation kits. It is a good idea to purchase and install a cold air intake system kit. This simple addition to your vehicle's engine means increased horsepower and better fuel economy. Its mode of operation is simple. Cold air is denser and contains a higher degree of oxygen in it, thereby allowing the air to hold more fuel. Most local automotive parts stores carry them, as well as many online stores. Some online stores are Auto Parts Warehouse, AutoAnything, and banks.

Will a Cold Air Engine Intake System Increase MPG?

Adding a cold air intake system to your stock engine intake system can increase fuel efficiency, and increase the vehicle's miles per gallon (MPG). A cold air intake system incorporates a larger diameter intake opening, thereby allowing an un-restricted path for intake air. Moreover, because the incoming air is cold, the air's density is increased, and it contains a larger amount of oxygen. This means more complete fuel burning, and increased horsepower from the same amount of fuel. The engine will also exhibit an increased throttle response because the engine does not have to work as hard to intake air/fuel.

What are the Price Ranges for High Performance Air Intake Systems?

High performance air intakes vary in price, depend on the make and model of vehicle, and the type of kit desired. Typical kit costs for passenger vehicles range from $129.00 to $319.00. Cost of this type of air intake system can run as high as $445.00 for kits designed specifically for the Dodge Challenger. One should perform some research before buying. Even though high performance air intake kits can yield better engine performance and increased gas mileage, these attributes must be weighed against the cost of the kit and installation.

Where can I Buy Cheap Discounted Cold Air Intake Parts?

Some of the best places to buy cold air intake parts are through an online store. They will typically have a larger variety of kits and accessories, and because of intense competition, will generally have better prices. Indeed, Simple Autosports claims, "Find Your Part and click 'Make an Offer' on that page to Get Our Best Price." Some other online stores that offer discounts for cold air intake systems are Discount Air Intake, joker's racing, and Cold Air Intake Direct. Remember, by doing a bit of research first, and identifying what type of system you need, finding the kit at the best price will be easier.

What are the Most Popular Engine Performance Modifications that People Do?

Some of the more popular engine performance modifications are adding a cold air intake system, adding turbo chargers or super chargers, and adding a high performance fuel delivery system. Of course, there are those that completely modify the engine, adding high performance parts, Though, this is an expensive route to go in order to gain engine performance. The aforementioned modifications are relatively inexpensive and can be installed by the do-it-yourselfer. However, if you need to decide on a modification, the cold air intake system is the least expensive and easiest to install.