One of the many ways to improve engine performance in our cars is by installing aftermarket components. Among them is the cold air intake, an additional item added together with a plethora of other upgrades that create more power and provide better fuel performance.
Cold Air Intake: What Is It?
A Cold air intake is an inexpensive component in a full range of aftermarket upgrades. The general cost of cold intakes is within a few hundred dollars. Cold Air Intakes provide many features to the engine’s performance and increase the power slightly compared to the other components such as turbochargers.
Cold air intakes hit the engine with cool air constantly, providing them with a clear airflow much like a clear sinus instead of a clogged one. The process by which a cold air intake works is by restructuring the air intake process, moving the air filter from inside the engine compartment to an exterior location that sucks up cold air located as close to the wheel well or fender areas as possible. Then flows this cold through the filter into the engine.
This process uses specific mechanical, structural designs to increase the airflow and reduce the incoming air temperature, thereby supporting two functions; increased airflow with cooler air. The designs used integrate large diameter intake tubes with the filter built inside, removing them from a box, and providing an optimally designed air induction system that provides a constant airflow.
With all this science and engineering behind a simple object, the question remains, how good are cool air intakes, and are they worth the cost?
To answer this, let’s look at the pros and cons of cool air intake systems.
The Pros and Cons of Cold Air Intakes
Pros of Cold Air Intakes
- Longer Engine Life
Engine life is increased when cooler air is provided and other engine components such as the radiator and oil cooling components
- Faster Throttle Response
A cold air-cooled engine responds faster when the colder air provides a much quicker response that surpasses a stock intake system.
- Horsepower Improvement
Cold air intake increases the fuel-burning process and provides an additional 5 to 20 horsepower to your engine, a lot of HP for most engines. When considering competition performance, every HP is critical for success.
- Increased Mileage
The air to fuel ratio is also adjusted with a cold air intake unit, and in most cases, this produces an improved air to fuel ratio that leads to economic fuel combustion.
- Filter Saving
Cold air filters are easier to remove and wash and will last in some instances up to 100,000 miles with frequent cleaning. Cold air intake filters are not paper, and as such, they also provide better filtration and improved life.
Cons of Cold Air Intakes
- Filter Types
There are many options to choose from for different models. However, the variety of materials is greater, and you can select any type of filter that suits your performance requirements.
Hydro-locking is when moisture from the air invades your engine and causes a mechanical failure that can lead to engine loss in the form of bent connecting rods when pistons are stuck.
Due to the shape and mechanical aspects of the cold air intake, where a 90-degree toll sucks in the air all the time, your idle could become compromised by the constant injection of cold air.
- Reading Accuracy
According to mechanicfaq.com article, when you add a cold air unit, you have to upgrade your meter. Otherwise, the new intake will provide inaccurate readings leading to miscalculated air to fuel ratios. In other words, you need to tune your engine with the new unit.
For many, this is a pro, but for some, it’s a con. A cold air intake unit will increase your engine’s sound, so if you are into stealth, this will impact that factor. Cold air intake systems change the engine’s sound, and with an aftermarket exhaust system, these two components combined will completely change your car’s sound.
Cold air works, it does provide improved performance and power. However, as with any upgrade, you will need to re-tune your engine to account for the new performance product. The bottom line is that cold air intake is a great way to increase efficiency and enjoy a slightly improved ride even when not adding other upgrades to accompany.
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