What Does Cold Air Intake Do? Beginner's Useful Guide
It's a prevalent practice among automobile enthusiasts, nowadays, not to just settle or not to get stuck with the given system. To them, it's very much like a never-ending mission intended to boost their vehicle with more and more power as well as more and more performance. This has led to the emergence of some brilliant aftermarket upgrades such as adding one or multiple kits that flow cooler, denser air into the car engine, and so on. And, the cold air intake is a marvelous addition to these upgrades or “mods” whichever you have heard of or not. May be you are asking yourself what does a cold air intake do and why should you install it? In that case, I’ll tell you to read this article thoroughly.
The chances are that you may not have heard about cold air intakes as they are not that "famous" as the other vehicle components such as the car engine, for example, and again, your car already has a stock intake, to begin with. So, a few questions may hover around you mind such as –
What is a cold air intake?
What does cool air intake do?
Do cold air intakes really work?
How much horsepower does a cold air intake add?
Do cold air intakes make a difference?
Let’s jump straight to the answers.
What is a cold air intake?
To make this adequately clear, think of the vehicle exhausts. All of us pretty much acquainted with the car exhausts, right? They exhaust the hot air out of your car engine, sometimes, in a very unpleasant black-smoky way, just kidding. Well, the cold air intake filter is like the opposite of car exhaust. It's merely a device with a duct or tube that sucks in cooler air from outside into the car engine compartment. These come in various sizes and shapes with different specifications added to them. And, their prices vary accordingly.
What does a Cold Air Intake do?
You may just have driven for half a mile. Still, meanwhile, a couple of hundreds of combustions have continually taken place into your engine compartment and, as a result, have produced an engine heat hot enough to do some regular toasting on it, which we do not suggest. Now imagine that after driving for a couple of miles.
And this is where the best cold air intakes come to the rescue. Now the query arises, asking what it actually does to your vehicle.
- Drawing in cold air from the outer atmosphere into the engine compartment
Cold air intakes have a tube attached to the filter that draws in colder and denser air from the outside into the engine compartment.
- Keeping harmful contaminants away from the engine compartment
Cold air intakes contain an air-filter that simultaneously restricts the harmful pollutants from entering into the engine compartment.
- Moving the air filter outside the engine compartment
Installing a cold air intake shifts the air filter, which was previously near the hot car-engine to a more chilled outer environment so that it no more gets affected by the engine heat resulting in cooler air intake into the engine compartment.
- Increment of combustions
As it continually feeds the engine with denser air, the engine compartment allows more oxygen to enter resulting in a surge in combustion rate.
- Increment of horsepower
An increased rate of combustion means increment in horsepower out. Cold air intake increases the engine horsepower by up to 15 units by raising the rate of combustion.
- Preventing carbon particles being stored in the engine
As it ensures adequate oxygen density, occurrences of incomplete combustions decrease, preventing carbon particles being stored into the engine.
- Increment of torque
Cold air intake surges up to 50% more airflow into the engine, providing the engine to produce better combustions resulting in more torque in the process.
- Increment of gas mileage
Cold air intake helps to ensure an increased rate of complete combustions and a decreased rate of power-loss. This helps your vehicle to achieve a significantly increased gas mileage of up to 5 mpg.
- Enhancement of throttle response
A cooler engine reacts faster than an overheated engine as it’s able to process its intake charge adequately. Cold air intakes ensure that feeding in colder air resulting in an improved and faster throttle response than the usual.
- Enhances engine efficiency
Cold air intake reduces engine-performance loss by providing denser intake charge as well as increasing horsepower and torque of the engine. This significantly improves the overall efficiency of your vehicle.
How much horsepower does a cold air intake add?
The cold air intakes are quite inexpensive, and again, there is a long debate among the motor-heads whether or not replacing stock intakes with aftermarket air intakes can boost vehicle performance, especially the horsepower.
To end this debate, manufactures have claimed and showed a significant increase of 5-15 horsepower in the engine output. The fact result is that cold air intakes paired with other vehicle-enhancement kits can boost your vehicle’s horsepower even further and even add years to the lifetime of your vehicle. That means more horsepower sustaining over decades.
To understand how a cold air intake works, first, you have to get the basic idea of how you drive your car. Not to be afraid as you don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand how things work, and again, we will only cut the surface as little as we require.
So, what do you do with your car? Simply explaining, you feed it with fuel, start the engine and regularly drive (in your way) until it gets hungry again, right? But what actually happens in the belly of the beast is what we have to know. Your engine or any vehicle engine that consumes fuel produces power by combustions. That's why they are the combustion engines in the first place. Now, if you don't understand what combustions are, then it'll be easy to acknowledge them as tiny explosions, at least, for now.
Wait! I have an exploding engine? Well, the answer is yes, and no simultaneously. Combustions are contained and controlled, but either way, they produce potent impacts which are then turned into mechanical power measured in "horsepower," which, by terms of a good number of operations, is then transferred to the wheels and allows you to drive. So, more combustion mean more horsepower, but no combustion can take place without an adequate oxygen density. So, Cold air intakes improve the rate of combustion by feeding your engine compartment with cooler and denser air that provides more oxygen resulting in more horsepower as well as engine efficiency.
Why is excessive engine heat bad for my vehicle?
A critical question. So that you know, combustions don't just happen on their own. For each combustion to take place, a specific volume of oxygen need to consume. But when the engine gets so hot, it also heats the air inside, causing it to get light and less-dense, prompting a low density of oxygen.
Combustion that occurs in the absence of the minimum density of oxygen is the incomplete combustion, which is like an engine-butcher or a car-parasite that continuously sucks out the life of your vehicle.
Firstly, incomplete combustions produce carbon particles which are stored into the engine compartments resulting in a significant decrease in engine performance, drop-in horsepower as well as a reduced engine lifetime.
Secondly, excessive heat produced in the engine is never something you should expect. A good deal of your car-parts near the engine are metal or plastics. Metals can get deformed as they expand due to increased temperature, and plastics melts in a much lesser temperature. Hence, think of this in this way, extra heat equals extra damage done to your car parts.
Okay, but do I need a cold air intake?
Whether or not you need a cold air intake is entirely up to your choice. But you can consider the three scenarios mentioned below -
1. Do you want more horsepower and longer, more efficient engine life?
2. Do you want to upgrade to the best you can get?
3. Do you find your vehicle delivering a decreased horsepower with the stock intakes?
If any of the answers is yes, then you can consider upgrading to a proper cold air intake. Otherwise, you can just work with your stock intake with a limited performance output. It's completely up to you.
But didn’t you say that my car has a stock air intake?
Of course, but you see, there's a catch. The stock air intakes kind of limit your car performance as they are simply just not capable of ensuring the highest cooling with the most top performance. These stock intakes will just do the work moderately, yes, but that's kind of like having your nose blocked by a bad flue. Yes, you can still breathe with your mouth, but that's certainly not just the best way.
Satisfaction always lies in contentment, but ambition does not. The hunger to have better leads humans to thrilling quests, and this is indifferent to the motor heads. Each they, people are coming with excellent ways to bring out the best of their vehicle. If you're one of them, cold air intake can be your car's faithful companion for decades.