Can A Cold Air Intake Damage Your Engine? | The Custom Truck (2022)

If you thought you were the only one that gets bothered when it gets hot, you’re wrong! Interestingly enough, your truck is also susceptible to overheating. Fortunately for humans, we have our own built in cooling system, also known as sweat. Automobiles, however, have more complex ways to battle heat.

Excess heat can kill the overall performance of your car. The last thing you want to experience is getting stranded by the side of the road with a smoking engine. You’re thinking about buying a cold air intake but are also wondering about its effects on the engine. Well yes, a cold air intake has the POTENTIAL to damage your engine.

How can a cold air intake damage my engine?

First, depending on the brand, the cold air intake filter can be made of materials that range from cloth to foam paper. The intake manifolds are uncovered such that the only thing between your engine and debris is the filter. While the foam filters provide extra horsepower, they are more susceptible to allowing debris and dirt into your engine.

Another potential threat that cold air intake poses on your engine is hydro locking. This occurs when the engine of your vehicle takes in water instead of cold air. This water is trapped inside the engine cylinders. Since water can hardly compress, the pistons and connecting rods become ruined eventually.

If the cold air intake has a 90-degree bend, it can potentially offset the idle of your car. Offsetting the car’s idle can bring about several issues. First, it brings about problems when air is being sucked into the engine. Secondly, it causes the air to roll. This rolling effect throws off the mass air meter – altering the engine readings. If that’s not enough, the rolling effect causes an improper air-to-fuel mixture. Consequently, your engine can potentially stall.

How can I install an aftermarket cold air intake safely?

When doing their research, most people think that installing an aftermarket cold air intake is easy. In truth, it really is. Simply put, just take out a part or two from your stock engine, put in the cold air intake and voilà! Intake installed!

I’m not a professional mechanic so I’ll try to explain proper cold air intake installation in words that even I can understand. Your truck was built and calibrated in a way for its computers to detect and ensure everything is working the way it’s supposed to. When something is wrong, the check engine light will tell you something is amiss.

(Video) Why Not to Buy a Cold Air Intake - Bad Car Mods

When it comes to air entering your engine, there’s a part called the mass airflow sensor. It makes sure that air is flowing through your engine the right way. Installing an aftermarket cold air intake usually bypasses the sensor, causing the check engine light to come on, and leads to a more air polluted engine. Over time, this can damage your engine permanently.

I love watching Scotty’s take on various vehicle accessories and upgrades. He makes so many good points, especially when it comes to cold air intakes…

Unless you truly know what you’re doing, I recommend you taking your truck to a professional mechanic to have the cold air intake installed. They use sophisticated tools like a dynamometer and a five gas analyzer in order to recalibrate your vehicle’s computers.

Keep in mind that this will be an expensive endeavor AND will possibly void your drivetrain warranty if your truck is fairly new.

How does a cold air intake work?

A cold air intake essentially replaces the stock air box in your truck. Both a cold air intake and an air box have the same general function and that is to suck up outside air into your engine.

To explain it simply, the oxygen in the air allows for the burning of fuel. The burning of the fuel leads to internal combustion, which initiates all the parts of your engine to start moving.

Unlike a stock air box that draws in hot air from inside your engine bay, a cold air intake, given that it is installed correctly, will draw in cooler air. The cold air intake will draw the cooler air from the lower part of your engine where the air is much cooler.

It is worth mentioning, however, that some vehicles have stock air boxes serve their purposes better than an aftermarket cold air intake. These stock air boxes suck in air from the bottom of engine, just like a cold air intake is supposed to do.

If you are unsure of the intricacies of your engine bay, be sure to ask a professional mechanic.

(Video) Are Aftermarket Intakes Even Worth It?

Listen to CallMeMatt’s take on his cold air intake. He shortly describes his experience with it as well as his opinion on whether or not you should get one…

Different cold air intakes in a nutshell

Cold air intake systems come in a variety of designs and materials. Intake tubing materials include plastic, rubber, and aluminum. The material of the tubing hardly matters as air will pass through it just the same matter what.

What will affect air travel is the shape of the tubing. Most vehicle engines are shaped differently so cold air intake tubings come in different shapes to accommodate the engines their were made for. The more bends a tubing has, the more resistance it encounters before reaching the rest of the engine. The resistance, however, is negligible.

Cold air intake systems come in three different types: long ram air intakes, air ram kits, and short ram kits. All these systems aim at creating more horsepower and enhancing your car’s efficiency.

What are the advantages of a cold air intake System?

Enhanced Power

Interestingly, the cold, dense air allowed by the cold air intake acts more like food for your engine. This means that the lower the temperature of the air driven into your engine, the more efficient your engine will run. This results in more horsepower and torque.

Better Fuel Economy

As I have mentioned earlier, the system works on ensuring that your engine operates at optimum power and prowess. In the process, your engine will eat up less gas. Also, cold air intakes ensure that your engine does not work hard, delivering an overall better fuel economy.

Elegant Look and Sound

When you install the air intake system, you’ll be surprised at the plenty of positive remarks you’ll get concerning the colorful intake system. While these systems come in a variety of colors and designs, each of these systems will give your engine bay a luxurious touch. The look on your friends’ faces when they see your truck will be priceless.

Reduced Air Pollution in Your Car

Of course, your health is a top priority when it comes to what’s best for your truck. Besides the fact that the system supercharges your vehicle’s performance, cold air intake systems reduce the number of inner cabin pollutants. The system naturally pumps more oxygen into the car. More oxygen in your cabin means healthier, breathable air with less exhaust fumes, dust, and smog.

Can A Cold Air Intake Damage Your Engine? | The Custom Truck (1)
(Video) Why Cold Air Intakes DON'T or DO Work on Your Car - Motive Tech

An Inexpensive Upgrade

In your shopping journey, you will find that installing a cold air intake system in your truck is among one of least expensive vehicle upgrades. With a few hundred dollars, you are sure to get a system that will prevent you from spending more money than necessary on gas in the long run.

Shopping for a cold air intake system?

All engines require airflow to complete fuel combustion. Perhaps you’re planning to purchase a cold air intake system to enhance the performance of your vehicle – that’s alright!

When you invest in an air intake system, your truck and SUV will get improved airflow. This results in improved efficiency and enhanced horsepower output. Also, the kits come in a wide variety of colors and designs. Imagine popping the hood and your engine produces a husky voice – it’s mind-blowing!

It’s worth noting that not all performance intakes are cold air intakes. Also, not all cold air intakes are the best. Therefore, you might want to take adequate time to select the best system for your car.

You can opt to browse through the internet, go through the classified ads, along with the newspapers to pinpoint the best cold air intake systems available. Precise engineering will maximize the potential of your engine.

Do cold air intakes increase gas mileage?

I know I may have answered this question many times over but yes, cold air intakes will improve your gas mileage. The power of an engine is directly proportional to the amount of cold air drawn into a cylinder and retained during ignition.

Performance air intakes increase engine power by increasing the airflow capacity. While there are potential risks of installing a cold air intake, this is nothing compared to the benefits that come with it.

Conclusion

Cold air intakes are a great and affordable modification that you can add to your truck. They allow for denser air to enter your combustion chamber, allowing for more power and a less chance for overheating.

They also increase your gas mileage and they don’t look too bad either. There are a variety of different cold air intakes to choose from but be sure to get one that specifically fits your engine.

(Video) Cold Air Intakes Mythbusted [Turbo]

It is worth pointing out again that you have to make sure your cold air intake is installed properly. The installation may not be as simple as you would believe. Improper installation may lead to a faulty mass airflow sensor or your check engine light to come on. Contact a mechanic for a second opinion.

Cold air intakes can potentially damage your engine if small pieces of the filter tear off and enter the engine or if they are improperly installed. Install them right and conduct regular maintenance to ensure that you have a beneficial system that will last you a long time.

If you’re thinking of different ways to accessorize your truck or make it more functional, consider checking out my recommended accessories page. I spent a good amount of time picking out mods that can be useful for most pickup trucks.

FAQs

Can a cold air intake mess up your engine? ›

Reduction in engine performance

One of the most common symptoms associated with a bad or failing cold air intake is a reduction in engine performance. The cold air intake also uses an engine air filter, which when clogged or dirty can cause a reduction in power, acceleration, and fuel efficiency.

Are cold air intakes good for trucks? ›

More oxygen means more power from your engine, so improved airflow is an excellent way to increase the performance of your vehicle. This is where a cold air intake system is extremely effective; improved airflow. This inexpensive mod can be exceptionally useful if paired with other vehicle enhancements.

What are the cons of a cold air intake? ›

The cold air intake does typically get denser air than the stock intake. However, since it is longer and more requires more complex routing, it is often more expensive. This increased complexity also leads to a more difficult and time-consuming installation.

Does installing a cold air intake void warranty? ›

Answer provided by. While a cold air intake won't technically void your Ram warranty, it could cause some issues if you go to get your vehicle fixed in the future. In the United States, manufacturers aren't allowed to refuse warranty service due to an aftermarket part.

What happens if engine gets too much air? ›

To sum up, if the engine gets too much air, the lean air-fuel mixture will result in engine overheating. So, it is always better that the engine receives both the air and the fuel in the right proportion.

Can I drive in the rain with a cold air intake? ›

Driving with a cold-air intake in the rain will not cause your engine to hydrolock. Driving with a coil-air intake without splash shields and fender lines will cause you problems. If you aren't able to avoid driving through water deeper than 6-8 inches deep, a cold-air probably isn't for you.

Does cold air intake make truck louder? ›

Cold air intakes make your car louder but not from the exhaust. Instead, the increased sound will come from the intake under the hood, often in the form of a sucking sound. A cold air intake is an aftermarket assembly designed to increase the amount of free oxygen within your engine's combustion chamber.

Is a aftermarket cold air intake worth it? ›

Cold air intake is definitely worth it when it comes to sound improvement – especially because it's much cheaper than other mods like exhausts. The cold air intake will give your car a much improved sound – specifically the sound of air gushing into your engine as you accelerate.

Is a cold air intake better than stock? ›

The primary purpose of a cold air intake is to deliver a colder air charge to the engine than a factory intake system does. Colder air is denser in oxygen and, as such, literally equals higher power output, lower fuel consumption, and a healthier engine.

How much HP do you gain with a cold air intake? ›

Cold Air Intakes are said to improve your vehicle's performance by 5-20 horsepower. This number will vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle. While this isn't enough power to put you back in your seat, it will give your car or truck a little pep in its step.

Are cold air intakes a waste of money? ›

WHY Cold air Intakes are a waste of money! | N/A Don'ts - YouTube

How long does cold air intake last? ›

Factory air intake systems are usually furnished with paper air filters that require replacement every 15,000 miles. Aftermarket cold air intakes, however, come with air filters that just have to be cleaned every 30,000 to 40,000 miles.

Will a cold air intake throw codes? ›

Registered. Adding a cold air intake - ANY cold air intake - should not throw codes or cause a lean condition. Lean conditions/codes happen when unmetered air "leaks" into the system after the Mass Air Flow sensor - and before the T/B.

Will a K&N cold air intake void my factory warranty? ›

No. In the United States, in order for the manufacturer of a warranted product to void or deny warranty coverage of a repair due to the use of an aftermarket part, the manufacturer must provide proof that the aftermarket part is the cause of the necessary repair.

Can K&N filter damage engine? ›

We researched these filters and their impact on vehicles so you'll know for sure whether they live up to the hype or are a detriment to your vehicle. If you properly use a K&N air filter, it will not damage your engine. However, those who accidentally overoil this filter may have some damage done to the intake.

Is it better to run lean or rich? ›

Q: Is it better to run the too lean or rich engines? An engine running slightly rich will give more power, but running lean will cause catastrophic engine damage. Running too rich can also cause severe damage to your engine.

Why is my truck running rich? ›

Running rich only occurs if there is an issue with your engine's combustion process. The cause of this is your engine receiving too much fuel. Conversely, “running lean” refers to your car receiving too much air and not enough fuel.

What happens if cold air intake gets wet? ›

A wet air filter will decrease your car's performance. If your filter stays wet it can cause the engine to choke or otherwise run rich. Over time this can cause water to make its way into your engine where it can mix with oil and cause a big mess.

Can you drive with no intake? ›

While you shouldn't continuously drive without an air filter, a short trip is okay. That said, most advise against driving a vehicle without an air filter. The filter is responsible for filtering the air you breathe and the air your engine uses.

What happens if water gets in your air intake? ›

Water does not compress like air which is what causes the sudden stop. This sudden stoppage can irreversibly damage internal components (bend rods, shatters pistons) and turn your car's motor into little more than a glorified paperweight. And it can happen in a flash.

How do I stop my cold air intake from whistling? ›

Annoying whistle after installing cold air intake or filter on the Toyota ...

Does a cold air intake sound different? ›

Generally speaking, a cold air intake will cause your engine to sound more aggressive. This is because the air coming into the engine is cooler and therefore, denser. This colder air causes the engine to run a little bit hotter, and that translates to a more powerful sounding car.

How do I make my truck louder? ›

There are 2 primary ways to make your truck louder. One way is to upgrade your factory exhaust system to an aftermarket unit that allows more free flow of exhaust fumes. You can also make your truck louder by upgrading the air intake system to a larger, less restrictive performance intake unit.

Does cold air intake reduce mpg? ›

Cold air intake - Cold air intakes will improve fuel efficiency, only to the extent that they are actually delivering colder air versus your stock intake. Air cleaners and filters - Air cleaners and filters generally don't produce much in the way of fuel economy.

How much horsepower does a cold air intake add to a v8? ›

Installing a cold air intake on an 8-cylinder engine like the LS or Coyote, you can expect to gain a minimum of 15-20 horsepower. However, even the most efficient high-flow cold air intakes will max out at around a 50 horsepower improvement.

Does intake increase HP? ›

How Much HP Does a Cold Air Intake Add? When upgrading your air intake, truck owners can expect an increase of between 5 to 15 horsepower, though this number can be higher or lower depending on your make, model, engine size, and type of intake.

How do I protect my cold air intake from water? ›

How to Protect Your Engine from Hydrolocking - YouTube

How much horsepower does a high flow air filter add? ›

And if your engine is getting more air, then it can perform better. In fact, a high flow air filter can actually increase your horsepower by about 3 to 5 HP and increase your torque as well.

How much mpg does a cold air intake add? ›

How Much MPG Does A Cold Air Intake Add? Cold air intakes may increase fuel economy by 3-5 MPG, but only if they produce cooler air than your vehicle's original intake.

Does throttle body Add HP? ›

Throttle Kit

They are very easy to install and contain other parts to increase vehicle performance. This is an inexpensive way to increase power and torque. With a throttle body spacer, it is possible to increase the torque by 25 ft lbs and add up to 18 more horsepower.

Does a cold air intake increase speed? ›

Installing a cold air intake has its perks, of course: Aside from increased horsepower (anywhere from 5 to 20), your ride is likely to be audibly speedier, too. Since more air in the combustion chamber means you're using the fuel that's pumped through to its fullest potential, cold air intakes can increase efficiency.

How much should you spend on a cold air intake? ›

Basic cold air intakes can start as low as $30-$100. However, if you want to splurge and see a decent increase in your horsepower, expect to spend between $100-$300. Here are some of the benefits of an aftermarket cold air intake: More horsepower.

Do performance air filters really work? ›

Turns Out High-Performance Air Filters Actually Do Give You More Power. The numbers are small, and you probably won't feel the extra power. But they do work. If you've ever been to an auto parts store, you've probably seen air filter boxes that claim extra power and more torque over the factory filter.

Can you put any cold air intake on any car? ›

1. Vehicle-specific design. Most cold air intake manufacturers design them to fit specific engine and vehicle types, years, makes, and models. The first thing you need to do is verify that the product you're ordering and installing is recommended for your specific vehicle.

How often should I clean cold air intake? ›

A good rule of thumb is to clean your cold air intake filter every time that you need to have your oil changed. The process is simple and only takes a few minutes.

How often should you change your cold air intake? ›

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CHANGE MY CAR AIR FILTER? Under normal highway driving conditions, your car's air filter typically needs to be replaced every 12-15,000 miles, which is approximately once a year depending on driving habits and conditions.

What is a good air intake temperature? ›

At present, standard values for the intake air temperature are in the range 30-70°C, dependently on engine load, external air conditions and vehicle speed and the adoption of a dedicated cooling fluid operating at low temperatures (-10-0°C) is addressed as the most viable option to achieve an effective temperature ...

Will a cold air intake throw codes? ›

Registered. Adding a cold air intake - ANY cold air intake - should not throw codes or cause a lean condition. Lean conditions/codes happen when unmetered air "leaks" into the system after the Mass Air Flow sensor - and before the T/B.

Do you need to tune your car after cold air intake? ›

But should you? For a quick answer – no, you don't need to tune your car after installing a cold air intake. Tuning your car is expensive and for doing it only to optimize a cold air intake is not worth the money. A cold air intake is a cheap and easy upgrade that does not require tuning.

Is a cold air intake worth it? ›

Cold air intake is definitely worth it when it comes to sound improvement – especially because it's much cheaper than other mods like exhausts. The cold air intake will give your car a much improved sound – specifically the sound of air gushing into your engine as you accelerate.

How much horsepower would a cold air intake add? ›

Cold Air Intakes are said to improve your vehicle's performance by 5-20 horsepower. This number will vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle. While this isn't enough power to put you back in your seat, it will give your car or truck a little pep in its step.

How often do you replace cold air intake filter? ›

This is generally every 12,000 to 15,000 miles, depending on your vehicle. If you have driven more than that since the last time you replaced the air filter, it's probably time to get it changed.

Can a K&N filter cause check engine light? ›

While uncommon, it is possible that a check engine light may come on after installing a K&N® air filter or performance intake system—but this does not necessarily mean that there is something wrong with your air filter or intake system.

What is Bank 1 too lean? ›

A P0171 code is set by your vehicle's powertrain control module (PCM) when it detects that the air-to-fuel ratio of your vehicle is too lean. This means that the PCM is relaying that the engine is receiving too much air into the combustion chamber and not enough fuel.

Does cold air intake increase exhaust sound? ›

Cold air intakes make your car louder but not from the exhaust. Instead, the increased sound will come from the intake under the hood, often in the form of a sucking sound. A cold air intake is an aftermarket assembly designed to increase the amount of free oxygen within your engine's combustion chamber.

Should I upgrade intake or exhaust first? ›

If you've got a tight budget and care more about providing cooler air to your engine so it can breathe easier, go with an aftermarket cold air intake first. If your budget is less restrictive and you're more concerned with gaining extra power, aggressive sound and killer looks, install an exhaust system first.

Will tune make exhaust louder? ›

As the exhaust breaks in, it does not get louder. As it carbons up, it will get quieter and less raspy. This is exactly what the AWE exhaust people said as well since they wanted to prepare buyers for the loud rasp that would wear in later.

How much horsepower does a cold air intake add to a v8? ›

Installing a cold air intake on an 8-cylinder engine like the LS or Coyote, you can expect to gain a minimum of 15-20 horsepower. However, even the most efficient high-flow cold air intakes will max out at around a 50 horsepower improvement.

What is the benefit of cold air intake? ›

Why? More power — maybe. Sometimes called cold-air induction, the theory behind a cold-air intake is sound: Cold air is denser than hot air, so cold air packs more oxygen into a given volume than does hot air. (Note that air only contains about 21% oxygen, with nearly all the rest being rather useless nitrogen.)

How much mpg does a cold air intake add? ›

How Much MPG Does A Cold Air Intake Add? Cold air intakes may increase fuel economy by 3-5 MPG, but only if they produce cooler air than your vehicle's original intake.

Does throttle body Add HP? ›

Throttle Kit

They are very easy to install and contain other parts to increase vehicle performance. This is an inexpensive way to increase power and torque. With a throttle body spacer, it is possible to increase the torque by 25 ft lbs and add up to 18 more horsepower.

What mods add the most horsepower? ›

10 Best Big Performance Mods
  • Forced Induction. There is no single modification that can radically increase your engine's power output and transform your ride like a turbocharger or supercharger. ...
  • Nitrous. ...
  • Camshafts. ...
  • Cold Air Intake. ...
  • Full Exhaust. ...
  • Race car brakes. ...
  • Road race suspension. ...
  • Increase Fuel.
21 Jan 2021

Videos

1. NEVER INSTALL A COLD AIR INTAKE IN YOUR TRUCK!
(Matty's Garage)
2. Cold Air Intake Problems
(The Dieseldog)
3. This is way you dont install cold air intake in low position
(Mechanic Do's and Don'ts and All That Good Stuff)
4. Doing This Will Make Your Engine Run Better
(Scotty Kilmer)
5. Is A Cold Air Intake Worth It? - 2019 Silverado
(Limited Slip Automotive)
6. Do Cold Air Intakes Really Increase Horsepower??
(BTG Performance)

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