Looking into the best cold air intake systems and upgrading your vehicle can have several benefits.
This includes a boost in horsepower as well as torque and installing a new cold air intake system can increase the performance of your car, truck or SUV overall. You will find a large number of cold air intake systems out there so how do you choose the best one and also the right one for your vehicle?
We have all the information you need here from what an intake system actually does, signs that yours may be faulty, what to look for when buying one and we’ll also show you the best ones on the market too.
Best 5 Cold Air Intake Systems in 2021 – Overview
These are the best 5 cold air intake systems you can buy in 2021.
|K&N Cold Air Intake Kit||Check latest price|
|S&B Cold Air Intake System||Check latest price|
|AEM Cold Air Induction System||Check latest price|
|Airaid Cold Air Intake System||Check latest price|
|Volant PowerCore Cool Air Intake System||Check latest price|
Best Cold Air Intake Brands
Just before we get into the best cold air intake systems you can buy, let’s have a quick look at the top brands that make these parts.
K&N is an engineering company that specializes in cold air intake systems and other performance parts for a wide range of vehicles. They are based in California and have been around since the 1960s.
S&B is another well-known manufacturer of cold air intake systems and other modifications and vehicle parts. They have been around for a long time too – although not as long as K&N – and are the go-to company for many people who want to upgrade the stock components on their vehicles.
Founded in 1987 and based out of California, AEM specializes in air induction systems.
They also produce many performance parts for different vehicles such as intercoolers, exhaust systems, and strut bars.
Airaid began with air filters and have since expanded into produce a wide range of different performance parts for vehicles. They are a bit newer to the market as they started in the 1990s but have since grown into a reputable and popular manufacturer.
Volant Performance has been making air intake systems since 1988 and are primarily based in Ohio. They offer a range of different intake systems and vehicle performance enhancements for many models of car, SUV, and pickup trucks.
5 Best Cold Air Intake Systems – Detailed Reviews
So, now you have the information you need to only know what a cold air intake system does but also how to spot the signs that you may need to install one. You should also have a better idea of what to think about before purchasing one too.
So, what are the best cold air intake systems you can buy?
K&N Cold Air Intake Kit
The K&N Cold Air Intake Kit is available for a wide range of vehicles and will bring many benefits to your car, truck, or SUV.
It has a 10 year or million-mile limited warranty so you shouldn’t really need to replace this cold air intake system very often. By offering up to 50% more airflow into your engine compared to factory and stock intake systems, you’ll notice several performance boosts too including more power and torque.
You’ll even notice the difference with the sound of your engine and it helps to achieve a louder and more aggressive noise. The filter does a good job of keeping out debris and dust and shouldn’t need to be cleaned for up to 100,000 miles.
Overall a great cold air intake kit that isn’t going to break the bank but does offer fantastic performance.
- Provides performance boosts and has a good warranty
- Filter shouldn’t need to be cleaned for the first 100k miles
- Helps to improve the sound of your engine
- Installation instructions could be a bit clearer
S&B Cold Air Intake System
Second on our list is the S&B Cold Air Intake System which again is available for a wide range of vehicle models.
It is designed to produce additional airflow to your engine (around 37%) and the silicone construction will aid durability. Not to mention the design of this cold air intake system is really flashy as well. You might not be looking at the components of your vehicle too often but at least you will know that the aesthetics will be improved with this bit of kit.
This part is CARB exempt so you can use it in California too.
Like most cold air intake systems, you won’t need any specialized tools and this can generally be installed in under 90 minutes. With good construction, longevity not to mention a striking look, the S&B Cold Air Intake System will offer many benefits to your vehicle.
- Provides performance boosts with a durable design
- Looks really good and is CARB exempt
- Installation shouldn’t take longer than 90 minutes with standard tools
- Some reports of slightly reduced fuel mileage
AEM Cold Air Induction System
The AEM Cold Air Induction System aims to deliver a significant boost in horsepower alongside the other benefits you find with cold air intake systems such as better fuel efficiency and torque.
It has a Dryflow synthetic air filter which will help to keep out dust and debris so this can be an ideal cold air intake system if you drive off-road or on country terrain. It means that cleaning will be much easier too and also oil-free.
You’ll also find mandrel-bent aluminum intake tubes, as well as powder-coated heat shields on this cold air. intake system from AEM. There are a few installation niggles such as the screw holes being slightly out of line but these can be overcome fairly easily.
- Offers boost in horsepower for your vehicle
- Dryflow Synthetic air filter is great for increased performance
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Some installation problems but nothing too serious
Airaid Cold Air Intake System
Slightly more expensive than the other intake systems we have listed so far, the Airaid Cold Air Intake System is nevertheless still a very good product at a reasonable price.
Offer the usual improvements in horsepower, torque, and fuel efficiency, it also comes easy to install so you shouldn’t have any issues. You get a lifetime guarantee warranty with this product too.
The filter that is used on this system is also washable and reusable as well which is a bonus for longevity. A few issues to bring up. One is that it can produce a kind of slight rattling sound in your engine while it isn’t as widely available for different vehicles as some other air intake systems.
- Improves various aspects of your vehicle’s performance
- Filter is washable and reusable
- Comes with a lifetime guarantee
- Can produce a rattling sound in your engine
- Not available for many vehicles
Volant PowerCore Cool Air Intake System
The final part on our list is the Volant PowerCore Cool Air Intake System.
Offering a very good air filter as well as several performance enhancements, it is also compatible with many vehicles too. Installation with this vehicle should be fairly straightforward as well and will generally take less than an hour.
You get a lifetime warranty with this cold air intake system and the silicone construction ensures durability. It does produce a bit of extra noise which is something to be wary of with this product.
- Offers several enhancements to your vehicle’s performance
- Good model compatibility
- Lifetime warranty is provided
- Silicone construction promotes durability
- Can be a bit noisy when in use
What is a cold air intake system?
Installing a cold air intake system of your vehicle is one of the more inexpensive modifications you can make but it can provide a big impact on performance.
A cold air intake system helps to feed cold air into the engine of your vehicle. This cooler air is brought into the engine to help with combustion and this can result in more power and performance. Essentially it helps to cool down the engine with free-flowing air so that it doesn’t overheat and can stay at a consistent temperature for longer.
With the addition of cold airflow and a more regulated temperature you will notice a performance boost in terms of horsepower and torque and in other areas too. These kits also mean that you remove the box that surrounds the air filter in your vehicle and with the larger and straighter tubes so you can get more air into your vehicle’s engine.
Types of intake systems
While we are going to look specifically at the best cold air intake system, this isn’t the only type of intake system you can buy. There are several out there that we should make you aware of.
Short ram air intake
This type of air intake system is manufactured so that the entire intake system that has been factory-installed in your vehicle is replaced.
The big difference between a short ram air intake system as a cold air intake system is that the tubes on the short ram intake kit are shorter. This makes it ideal for use in smaller spaces and if the air filter is located closer to the engine.
You won’t get air that is as low a temperature as you get with a cold air intake system but it can be a better choice for vehicles where you don’t have a whole lot of space for upgrades.
Ram air intake
A ram air intake is quite similar to a cold air intake system in that it will flow cool air into your engine.
The difference is that the air filter is located at the back of the system next to the engine and the tubes are longer too. You will also find a pre-filter in many of these systems which is found at the front of the tubes. The reason for this is that it can help provide an additional layer of protection against debris, dust, and water.
Signs your air intake system is faulty
Even if you aren’t a mechanic or experienced with vehicle maintenance, there are some tell-tale and common signs that your air intake system is faulty and needs to be replaced. This can be a good indication that it is time to invest in a cold air intake system for added performance and reliability.
Engine is overheating
This is one of the most obvious signs that the factory-installed air intake system isn’t working properly. If your engine is overheating then it usually means that not enough air is getting into it so that it cools down properly.
You will probably see a warning light on your dashboard that indicates that your engine is getting too hot.
Strange engine noises
Another common sign that an air intake system is failing is that you will hear unfamiliar noises coming from the engine.
Strange noises could happen due to a number of reasons such as needing to have the radiator replaced however a fault in the air intake system can be the root cause too. Installing a cold air intake system can help remedy this problem and also ensure that the engine temperature is kept consistent.
Decrease in performance
If you are finding that your vehicle isn’t providing the same level of performance as before in terms of speed, horsepower, and torque, you may need to upgrade the intake system.
It can also be notified if you go off-road and have trouble getting out of and moving around on surfaces that your vehicle would otherwise have no issues with. This could include sand, dirt roads, and other rough terrains.
You’re using more fuel
If your air intake system is failing, your vehicle will try to take in more air and use more fuel as a result.
A sign that your air intake system needs to be replaced and upgraded is if you are using more fuel than you usually would but you aren’t going any further. Poor fuel efficiency and miles per gallon can be a result of a number of problems but the intake system trying to compensate for not taking in enough air is one of them.
What to look for when buying a cold air intake system
We’re going to have a look at the best cold air intake system you can buy to upgrade the factory components in your car. There are some things you should consider and look out for before you dive in and make a purchase.
- Does it fit your vehicle? – This is really the most important thing you need to consider. Cold air intake systems are usually made for specific models so the one you are looking at might not necessarily fit your vehicle. If you try to fit a cold air intake system on a vehicle that it isn’t compatible with you can end up doing much more damage.
- Emissions – Depending on where you live, you may need to consider if the cold air intake system has any impact on the emissions your vehicle generates. Some places – such as California – have strict rules on modifications that impact vehicle emissions so make sure you check this out for where you live. Failing to do so can result in a fine.
- Longevity – Compared to some other vehicle modifications, a cold air intake system is fairly easy to install. It might not be as simple as spark plugs for example but it is easier than other parts however you don’t want to have to replace it frequently. This is why you should consider the longevity of the system in terms of how long you would expect to get good performance from it before it needs to be replaced.
- Filtering dust and debris – Cold air intake systems come with a filter to help prevent dirt, dust and debris from infiltrating the system. If you regularly drive off-road and in less than ideal conditions you may want to consider a system that has a more advanced filter.
Frequently Asked Questions about Cold Air Intake Systems
A cold air intake system helps to feed cold air into your engine. This means that it keeps a consistent temperature and will impact on its performance too. Installing a cold air intake system can boost horsepower, torque, and fuel efficiency.
Not usually. While different parts from different manufacturers will have different prices, it is usually one of the cheaper modifications you can make to your vehicle. Compared to some other upgrades installing a cold air intake system shouldn’t cost too much.
Yes. The part will come with installation instructions that should be straightforward and easy to follow. It helps if you do have some prior experience of mechanics or installing new parts on your car. That being said, even if you have limited experience you should be able to install a cold air intake system with standard tools. If you are in any doubt consult a mechanic who can help.
There are a few tell-tale signs that the air intake in your car isn’t working properly and it may be time to invest in an upgraded cold air intake system. Some of the common signs include your engine overheating, a noticeable reduction in performance, less fuel efficiency as well as strange noises coming from your engine.
These signs don’t necessarily mean that you need a cold air intake system but they are often associated with not enough air getting into the engine.
Like most car parts and components you need to buy the right cold air intake system for your vehicle. If you try to fit a cold air intake system that hasn’t been designed for your car, SUV or truck you risk damaging your vehicle and the engine.
Not necessarily. Some states – such as California – have strict laws on adding parts to vehicles that may impact on its emission levels. The product should say if it is not able to be used in certain states.
Conclusion – what is the best cold air intake system?
There are a couple of reasons why you may want to upgrade the factory components of your air intake system on your vehicle.
It could be the case that your current air intake system is failing and your vehicle isn’t performing as it should. It might also be that you simply want a boost in performance such as increased horsepower, torque, and fuel efficiency.
Installing a cold air intake system has many benefits but which is the best one to buy and fit into your vehicle?
We’re going to recommend the K&N Cold Air Intake Kit which is available for a wide range of models so you should be able to find out to fit your vehicle. There isn’t real;y anything wrong with this cold air intake kit. The only drawback we can find is that the installation instructions could be a bit clearer but you can find information online to help you. You can also install this with standard tools.
What the K&N Cold Air Intake Kit does is provide 50% more airflow into your engine compared to factory and stock intake systems. This will help greatly with overall performance. You also get a 10-year limited warranty with this part and it shouldn’t need to be cleaned for the first 100,000 miles. The filter also does a very odd job at keeping dirt, dust, and debris out.
Overall this is a very good cold air intake system. It does what it says it will do for your vehicle, isn’t hard to install, and is available for a very reasonable price too.