Getting a cold air intake for your car? Maybe read this first!


Today we will be talking about cold air intakes and why you should not put a cold air intake on your car. The common misconception among youngsters is that a cold air intake will give you more power or more horsepower and get more acceleration.

Also Read: Here is all you need to know about turbochargers!

They get rid of the factory fitted airbox and filter, and replace them with cold air intake systems. Many of these cold air intake systems claim they increase horsepower from 5 to 15 bhp.

cold air intake

First thing, the primary reason that these air intake systems don’t increase your power is because your factory fitted airbox is designed by engineers who spend hours and hours to develop them to improve efficiency and provide maximum airflow. Many modern cars also come with a MAF (Mass Airflow Sensor) which has been calibrated with the ECU (Engine Control Unit) and tuned according to the factory fitted airbox. When you remove that, and slap on your own cold air intake it may start taking more or less air, depending on where it is placed, eventually confusing the ECU which may turn on your engine check light on. The other possibility is that when the air flow is changed after you bypass your factory air intake the engine starts behaving differently and, in many cases, less efficiently as the ECU cannot re-tune itself according to different airflow now as the ECU still thinks its getting that air flow from the factory air intake system.

cold air intake

Secondly, most people forget the basics of how a cold air intake works. As the name suggests, it requires cold air. If you happen to look at your factory fitted air box, you will see that with the help of plastic pipes, the air inlet is always placed near the bottom of the bumper away from the engine so that cold air coming from the outside is sucked into the air box. Most of the times you will see these cold air intakes placed right next to the engine where the air is the hottest which removes the purpose of cold air intake (cold air means better performance, compared to hot air).

cold air intake

cold air intake

Third mistake almost all of the people make is not getting your ECU re-tuned. Proper engine tuning with the help of a dynamometer (dyno) is not that common here in Pakistan because there are only a handful of places and not many mechanics skilled enough who can re-tune your ECU.

Now there are companies which make cold air intakes for cars, but do remember that their kits are different for each car and the kits have proper instructions on where to place the air intake system which will provide maximum cold air flow. These kits are properly designed after a lot of testing. One important thing to note is that to benefit from an aftermarket cold air intake you still need to re-tune your ECU otherwise your cold air intake will be of no use other than for appearance purposes and making some snarling sounds.

Our advice, if you don’t have the means to properly install a cold air intake system and re-tune your ECU, it would be better just to leave the factory system in place.


Saad Ikram

Petrol head by a young age. My passion and obsession with cars began with the release of the Fast and Furious franchise. I love reading and writing about anything related to cars. Currently doing bachelors in computer science from FAST.

Notable Replies

  1. For EFI car MAF is only to measure air mass going inside the engine . ECU contains driveability maps . These maps have parameters like air mass , throttle position , engine rpm to calculate fuel mass to be injected . So installing the round filter will increase air flow ( wider suction area ) and if its away from engine bay than cold air is more dense. So it depends on ecu if its tuned on fuel economy or max performance .
    I think this added info is useful for readers.

  2. aref says:

    :+1: :+1:

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