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What Do Cold Air Intakes Do?
Cold air intakes, or any performance intake for that matter, are popular performance upgrades geared at the notion that more airflow = more power! Cold air intakes improve your vehicle’s performance in numerous ways, including increased throttle response, fuel efficiency, and dyno-proven horsepower/torque gains; they also often provide a sporty growl that emanates from under the hood when you step on the throttle! But how do they work?
Most vehicles sport restrictive intake systems from the factory, consisting of an inefficient paper filter and small-diameter baffled intake tubing. Cold air intakes address these shortcomings, employing high-flow conical air filters, smooth, large-diameter intake tubes, and air scoops that funnel cool exterior air into the engine bay. The more airflow, the more efficient combustion, which, in turn, boosts performance!
How to Choose an Aftermarket Air Intake System
So which air intake best suits your application? Your selection should factor in a few different variables, including:
While most intake systems come with a C.A.R.B. sticker, signaling the product’s compliance with the California Air Resources Board, others may not. Especially if you live in California, it’s essential to know your local rules and regulations, ensuring your vehicle remains smog legal.
Some intakes feature more efficient designs than others; for this reason, we always recommend choosing a product that’s undergone thorough R&D testing and demonstrates dyno-proven gains; what’s the point of an aftermarket intake if you don't gain any performance?
Performance air filters come in multiple media types, including dry-synthetic, oiled-synthetic, oiled-cotton, and disposable paper. Depending on your preference between disposal or cleaning and your climate, one filter may suit your needs better than the next. For example, dry filters are ideal for dusty climates, as oiled filters may attract dirt and dust. Oiled filers promote slightly better flow, making them favorable for high-performance applications.
Air Intake Components
Your air intake is a system that consists of several parts. When combined, these components efficiently channel air into your vehicle’s intake.
The air filter serves an essential purpose in the air intake system. While driving, dirt, debris, and contaminants constantly circulate the engine bay. If these contaminants find a way into your vehicle’s intake, they can cause irreparable damage to the engine’s internals. Air filters prevent contaminants from entering the intake tract, ensuring the engine inhales only clean, filtered air.
The air intake box houses the air filter, keeping engine bay contaminants from dirtying the filter media and insulating the filter against underhood heat. Some aftermarket intakes don’t feature fully-enclosed boxes, which is where products like aFe Cold Air Intake Covers come in handy!
The air intake scoop forms a direct pathway between your vehicle’s exterior and the airbox, allowing the engine to inhale cool, dense, fresh air. While factory intake scoops traditionally suffice for stock power levels, performance intake scoops, like the Banks Super-Scoop, offer increased airflow directly to the air filter!
Your vehicle’s intake tubing transfers clean air from the intake box to the throttle body/intake manifold. Whereas stock intake tubes are traditionally restrictive, aftermarket options, like the Banks Power Elbow, promote smooth airflow into your vehicle turbocharger or intake manifold.