What is a Cold Air Intake – A Complete Guidelines 2021

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This is a complete guideline on the definition of a cold air intake system.

From this guide, you will learn:

What is a cold air intake system? What does a cold air intake do? Difference between Cold Air Intake and Short-ram Air intake And a lot…

The best part is- we include a list of brands that manufacture high-performance cold air intake systems. Therefore, you can find the top 5 CAI systems from each of the brands with the price.

So, let’s get started right here.

What is a cold air intake?

A cold air intake system is such an aftermarket device that helps to draw cold air into your car’s combustion engine. If the engine is your vehicle’s heart, cold air intake will be the soul of your car engine.

Because of the CAI, your car can collect the cold air and take a deep breath to get the horsepower & torque for smooth riding. Besides, a cold air intake also contributes to increasing your vehicle throttle response, improves gas mileage, and makes a deep throaty sound.

What does a cold air intake do?

Cold Air Intake Systems help to improve the overall performance of your car. They are designed in a way so that the air filter will be outside of your vehicle’s engine compartment. As a result, the intake can draw cold air that carries dense oxygen and provide it to your car engine. It boosts the combustion process, and you get extra horsepower.

Therefore, the air filter and intake tube are less restrictive compared to that factory airbox. So, more cold airflow can travel through the filter & tube to your car engine. Indeed, your vehicle’s engine gets uninterrupted airflow, which boosts up horsepower & torque.

Now, you know everything about how a cold air intake works. But the question is- Will a CAI system really increase your car performance? Yes, it is. Though it is not guaranteed, the air intake system enhances horsepower and fuel efficiency. However, it depends on what aftermarket air intake system you pick and the style of your driving.

Difference Between Air Intake vs Cold Air Intake

You can find different types of air intake systems in the market. Short air intake, cold air intake, and ram air intake type are some examples of them. In this chapter, we will break down the differences between cold air intake and short-ram air intake.

Cold air intake systems are designed to deliver only the cold air into your car engine. Generally, you need to place the air intake system in the fender, or the wheel well to collect cold air.

On the other hand, short-ram air intake systems are manufactured for a replacement of your factory airbox. It features a simple design and comes with a low-restrictive intake pipe to provide a high volume of airflow to your car engine. You should place it in your car engine bay.

When it comes to easy installation, short-ram air intake is simple to install. Because of its simple design, you can install it with ease. In contrast, CAI systems come with more piping and comparatively complex design. So, it is a little bit challenging to install.

Now, let’s talk about the performance. Cold air intake systems surpass the short-ram one. You know that cold air carries dense oxygen, which boosts up the combustion process to produce extra power & torque.

To sum up, it will be better to go for cold air intake systems as it gives you the power for smooth riding.

How much horsepower does a cold air intake add?

Generally, a cold air intake system boosts up the horsepower to 10-15HP. But, it is not guaranteed whether you will gain or feel the extra horsepower or not. Also, how much horsepower you will get from a CAI system depends on the way you install it and your driving mode.

We suggest you check the product description to see the amount of horsepower a cold air intake provides.

What cold air intake gives the most horsepower?

It’s typical to recommend a cold air intake system that gives the most horsepower. However, CAI systems from the most sought-after brands like K&N, Ingen, aFe Power, and Volant provide the max power & torque. Here is a list of the best aftermarket cold air intake systems that offer the highest horsepower.

How much is a cold air intake?

It costs you around $150-$500 to upgrade your factory intake system to a cold air intake system. However, the price of an aftermarket CAI system depends on the brands and the quality of construction. Indeed, you will get what you pay.

What are the best cold air intake – Top Rated Brands You Should Consider

From this chapter, you can learn about the top air intake brands that offer premium quality CAI systems.

1. K&N

The story of K&N began in the early 1960s with a ground-breaking idea for an air filter. Ken Johnson and Norm McDonald (K&N), two passionate motorbike racers, came up with the idea of an air filter that could perform under hard driving conditions like dusty off-road environments.

After testing & researching numerous air filter media, they discovered oiled cotton media is the best. It doesn’t only catch & trap contaminants but also allows you to wash and reuse the filter. Thus, how the original and K&N high-flow air filter was born that you put into your car.

You May Check: K&N Cold Air Intake Reviews

Now, K&N is one of the best manufacturers of air filters, cold air intake systems, and other vehicle performance parts. This company now manufactures over 12000 parts for cars, motorcycles, trucks, and SUVs.

K&N introduced us to its first cold air intake system in 1992. After that, it produces thousands of CAI systems to improve the overall performance of your car.

Each K&N cold air intake system features a roto-molded HDPE tube, oversized High-flow air filter, and oiled-cotton media. Because of its low-restrictive design, it draws a large amount of cold air into your engine to boost up horsepower & torque.

Therefore, every air intake system from K&N is made with premium quality material to ensure longevity. Here is the list of the top 5 K&N cold air intake systems:

2. aFe Power

aFe stands for advanced Flow engineering. The brand name (aFe power) represents its name and intention as it manufactures vehicle performance upgrade systems & components.

Currently, aFe Power has over 2500 automotive parts in their product lines. All of them are designed, developed, and tested in Corona, California, USA. The wide range of products includes air filters, exhaust systems, and air intake systems for the latest model cars & trucks.

You can check: AFE Cold Air Intake Reviews

When talking about cold air intake systems from aFe, you can hardly find a brand that can beat them. Each of the aFe CAI systems comes with oversized dry-flow synthetic air filters and mandrel-bent intake tubes. All of these ensure optimal airflow to your car engine to gain max horsepower & torque.

For ensuring durability, aFe air intake system uses aluminum as its construction material. Due to this built-in material, the CAI system lasts for a long time as it can resist corrosion.

Check the following list of best aFe air intake systems:

3. Spectre Performance

The journey of Spectre Performance began in 1983. Since then, this company is still thriving and manufactures performance parts to fuel your vehicles. This company produces high-quality air filters, cold air intake systems, intake components, and engine accessories for the latest model cars & trucks.

CAI systems from Spectre Performance are designed to provide extra horsepower and torque. Each of them uses premium quality polished aluminum as the built-in material.

You May Check: Spectre Cold Air Intake Reviews

On top of this, the air intake tube is coated with heat-shield powder to ensure longevity. Therefore, the high-flow air filters of the Spectre Performance ensure optimum airflow to enhance power and performance.

Spectre cold air intake systems are also stylish. Most CAI systems have blue, red, and black air filters. They look awesome under your car hood. Turns out, this air intake brand includes a clear instruction guide. Following the instructions, you can install the unit using commonly used tools.

Here take a look at the list of best Spectre cold air intake systems:

4. Injen

Ron Delgado, a young entrepreneur, is the founder of Injen. He founded Injen in 1988. Since then, this company has never stopped designing and manufacturing new vehicle performance products.

The product lineup of Injen includes air intakes, exhaust systems, intercoolers, throttle controllers, and air filters. Indeed, Injen becomes the household name to enthusiasts who look for dyno-tested solutions for their cars.

You May Check: Injen Cold Air Intake Reviews

The air intake systems from Injen are world-class. Each of the CAI systems features a smooth air intake pipe to let the air draw in freely. As a result, a large volume of airflow enters your car engine to gain the maximum horsepower & torque.

On top of this, the Injen air intake system comes with SuperNano-Web dry air filters. It prolongs your vehicle engine by capturing dirt and dust. Therefore, you can feel the increased throttle response and deep throaty sound by installing the CAI system from Injen.

Take a look at the top 5 Injen air intake systems you can consider:

5. Volant

Whether you like to drive on or off-road, Volant is there for you to provide the power & speed you need for smooth driving. And the cold air intake system is what meets your desire & driving requirements.

Volant introduced us to its high-performance CAI system in 1998. It is specially designed to boost up horsepower & torque.

You May Check: Volant Cold Air Intake Reviews

Volant offers a larger airbox compared to the factory airbox and comes with a larger opening. As a result, a sufficient amount of airflow can travel through the low-restrictive intake pipe to your car engine.

Therefore, each air intake from Volant comes with three filtration systems- PowerCore, Drytech Dry Filter, MaxFlow 5 Oiled Filter. Every one of them is reusable & washable. You don’t need to clean them until you drive your car up to 100k miles.

Take your eyes close to these top 5 Volant Cold Air Intake Systems that exceed your needs:

6. DC Sports

Darrell and Darrick Contreras are the founders of DC Sports. This company manufactures high-quality vehicle performance products. Air intake systems, exhaust systems, headers, and other automotive parts are there in the product lineup of DC Sports.

Cold Air Intake Systems from DC Sports are industry-standard. The smooth intake tube is made with an aluminum alloy construction. And it uses heat-resistant powder to coat the intake pipe. This means the intake system will last for a long time, shielding corrosion and high temperature.

DC Sports Air Intake technically relocates the air filter outside the engine compartment. In return, it can collect cold ambient air and provide it to your car engine for boosting up horsepower & torque.

Now, let’s look at the list of the top 5 DC Sports Cold Air Intake Systems.

7. Flowmaster

FlowMaster is another manufacturer of vehicle performance parts and components. It is designed and distributes exhaust systems, air intake systems, mufflers, and numerous exhaust accessories for late car and truck models.

CAI systems from FlowMaster provide the power and torque you need for smooth riding. It features polyethylene intake tubes with a high-flow air filter to let the air travel freely to your car engine

. In return, your car engine gets the air to take a deep breath and provide you the power you need for a long drive. Therefore, you can feel the increased throttle response and hear the rumbling sound by installing cold air intake systems from Flowmaster.

Here is the example list of the top 5 CAI systems from Flowmaster.

8. DNA Motoring

DNA Motoring makes a big name by providing high-quality air intake systems at affordable prices. You can’t find a single brand that designed and distributed the CAI system at this price point.

Though the price of the cold air intake system from DNA Motoring is low, it doesn’t sacrifice the quality. Each of the units uses T-6061 Aluminum as its construction material to ensure longevity.

Therefore, the smooth and low-restrictive air intake tube draws a high volume of airflow to the engine. As a result, you will get enough horsepower that increases the overall performance by boosting up throttle response.

Now, it’s time to check the list of CAI systems from DNA Motoring.

Final Verdict

So, what is a cold air intake system?

A CAI system is a vehicle performance component that draws cold air to your car engine to boost up horsepower & torque. Installing it under your car hood, you will get extra HP that maximizes throttle response. Therefore, you can hear a deep throaty sound by upgrading the factory airbox to the cold air intake system.

Throughout this guide, we discussed the top brands like K&N, Volant, aFe Power, and others that offer high-performance CAI systems. You can pick an air intake system from those brands to boost up your car performance.

Brian Hazel


Brian Hazel (Automotive Enthusiast)

I am a professional auto repair & automotive enthusiast currently living in USA. My interests range from all types of vehicle maintains & repairing.

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