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Benefits of Cold Air Intake Systems | MAPerformance

Dan Carey  October 01 2019

Cold Air Intake: Letting Your Engine Breathe

Chances are that your car has an internal combustion engine. This type of engine creates small explosions to move pistons, creating energy that ultimately turns the wheels. Oxygen is an absolutely essential part of this process. So, your engine needs an air intake that will let it breathe in oxygen. Most cars use a hot air intake, especially in their stock configurations. One of the best ways to modify an engine to make more power is to switch to a cold air intake. This alternative style of intake delivers more oxygen to the engine, allowing it to be more powerful.

What Is a Cold Air Intake?

A normal air intake system pulls in air from around the engine. The intake's primary job is to filter the air that is coming into the engine. A major drawback of this setup is that the air is coming from the hot engine bay. Consequently, the air is less dense, especially after extended driving. In turn, this means less oxygen and less power. The key differentiator for a cold system is that the air intake is moved away from the engine. Many also use a box around the air filter that helps shield it from heat and directs the airflow so that it is coming from outside of the vehicle. Cooler air is denser air.

What Are the Benefits of a CAI System?

As mentioned, more oxygen means more power from your engine. A CAI system helps achieve this by bringing in cold air that is denser and more rich with oxygen.

  • Denser air is drawn into the engine, resulting in more power.
  • High-flow aftermarket systems let more air into the engine.
  • There is less performance drop off due to excess engine heat.
  • It is a relatively inexpensive performance modification.
  • It is an accessible upgrade, even for beginners.

The last of these benefits may be some of the most notable for many enthusiasts. Unlike forced induction systems and engine component upgrades, air intake systems are fairly inexpensive and can be done by almost anyone with a little patience and the right supplies. Even beginner modders can make more power with a CAI.

How Can I Set Up a CAI?

Setting up a custom air intake is a relatively easy upgrade. Before beginning the installation, make sure to set up your work area with plenty of light and your tools and parts close at hand. Working on vehicles is something anyone can learn but it can be frustrating with a poorly-planned workspace.

  • Disconnect the negative battery terminal before starting.
  • Loosen the clamp that holds the factory air intake tube in place. Then carefully slip it off of the throttle body.
  • Before fully removing the air intake, disconnect the mass airflow sensor from inside the factory air tube.
  • Once removed, place the MAF sensor somewhere safe for later.
  • Undo the bolts holding the factory air box in place.
  • Lift out the air tube and airbox and set them aside.
  • Attach the air filter to the end of the aftermarket air tube and clamp it in place.
  • Slide the intake tube through the new airbox so that the filter and a short section of the tube are in the box.
  • Place the new aftermarket air tube over the throttle body.
  • Connect the MAF sensor to the new intake tube.
  • Bolt the box and air tube clamp in place.
  • Reconnect the battery and start the car to make sure air is flowing properly.

Expect this to take about an hour for beginners, provided that you have everything organized and at hand before starting. Don't forget to disconnect and reconnect the battery. This is more than just being safe, it is an essential step for your computer to work with the new air intake.

What Are the Best Air Intakes?

When you start shopping for a new air intake, you may be overwhelmed at first by the options. Installing a custom air intake can be simple, but only if you get the right parts for your vehicle and performance goals. K&N air intake systems are among the best and most respected in the industry. They are cold systems that can significantly improve airflow. Many K&N filters are also washable and reusable, making them very practical. Alternatively, consider an AEM CAI. These are also top-quality systems. You can be confident that your AEM intake will help you get the performance boost you are looking for.

Learn More

Don't wait to get started working on your vehicle. A CAI system could help your engine breathe better than ever. Better yet, working on your own vehicle is one of the most rewarding aspects of ownership. Check out the air intake products available at MA Performance. We will help you find the right parts for your vehicle and needs. Contact us to get help from one of our expert team members.

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