One of the main components of a car engine is the air intake system. Your car’s engine works by mixing fuel with oxygen from the environment, and combusting that mixture. In turn, the explosions created by the mixture move the camshafts and pistons that spin the crankshaft and the wheels. The amount of oxygen mixed with fuel has a direct effect on your horsepower and torque. The stronger the explosions, of course, the faster your car can get. With this basic formula in mind, many devices have been created to aid or even amplify the amount of oxygen coming into your car.
Most automobiles come with regular air filters that function the same as those for air conditioners. While engines must take in as much combustible oxygen as they can, the air must first be filtered of dust and debris from the environment. This dust and debris can damage your engine. Stock air filter systems have been engineered not just for efficient filtering, but also for silence. However, some motorists desire more.
One of the most popular intake-related modifications is a cold air intake (CAI), also known as a cone filter or simply a cold intake. A cold air intake is a type of air filter that, as its name suggests, sucks in cold air. High school physics tells us that colder air is denser, with more oxygen molecules closer together. This simply means that there will be more oxygen to combust. To achieve this, a CAI is designed to have no plastic housing, as is the case with most air filters. A CAI is usually plugged straight to the mass air flow sensor, with another tube stuck to the front grill of the hood funneling cold air from the outside and onto the cone filter.
A cold intake is preferred also by those who desire the look and sound of it. Its open design and cone shape allows a unique hollow roar to audibly resound even with the hood down. And hey, it looks pretty cool!
Cold intakes are relatively inexpensive engine mods, but motorists must be aware that there can be some drawbacks to installing one in their engines. First, cold intakes have a higher chance of taking in dirt, debris, and water given its open design. Motorists must be careful not to place the air funneling tube too low as this could suck in flood water and feed it to the cold intake. Second, cold intakes will work oppositely if it is exposed to too much warm air from the engine bay. In this case, a heat shield can be used to keep heat from the filter. Third, tests have shown that engines with cold intakes perform less in low rev situations. This means that when in you’re in a speed that’s too low for the gear you’re in, your car will struggle to accelerate. Your car will need to rely more on fuel in this case. That said, cold intakes work best in the mid to high rev ranges. Fourth, mass air flow sensors will have trouble computing the best air-fuel mix for your car since the stock filter has been changed to filter with different properties. This means that your air flow sensor will have to be reprogrammed for the change, and this may charge you extra. Finally, be sure to get an air filter from a reputable brand. There are many cheap filters that can go for even under a thousand pesos, but these filters may end up disappointing you or even end up damaging your car.
Cold air intakes are a great way to start modifying your engine. They can aid your engine performance and fuel efficiency, as well as give your car an edge aesthetically. They are as easy to change as they are inexpensive. If you end up not liking your cold air intake, it’s simple to just reattach the old filter box.
We at Acom Trading invite you to take adventures with your car, even if it’s in little tweaks in your engine. You’ll never know where this takes you.
Josh Jimenez is a Broadcast Communication student and lover of sweet, simple things. He is a European automobil enthusiast whose dream car is a BMW M3. Josh also loves to play the guitar and is a follower of Anthony Bourdain’s macro-level perspective on food. Ad majorem Dei gloriam!