You’ve likely heard how cold air intakes deliver a performance boost if you install them on your car. Yet, not everyone knows how much of a boost they’re supposed to give cars after installing them.
Cold air intakes typically add 5 – 20 horsepower (hp). However, the power increase will be dependent on how much airflow is improved over the vehicle’s stock configuration.
Installing a cold air intake to upgrade your car is an affordable way to add power to its engine.
Does a Cold Air Intake Increase HP?
The normal intake on your car doesn’t cool air before it enters the combustion chamber.
Cooled air condenses as it gets colder, concentrating oxygen. The more oxygen your intake delivers to the chamber, the more power your pistons can produce!
Combustion is a chemical process that uses precise ratios of each element involved. Most of the time, cars don’t deliver as much oxygen as possible.
All the fuel won’t burn unless there’s enough oxygen in the chamber when it combusts. Leaving fuel in the chamber means you’ve lost horsepower, and it turns into gunk.
That’s the basic dynamics behind this auto mod.
You’ll have to replace your car’s stock intake, opening it up in the process. Most stock intakes are a little restrictive.
They’ve designed cold air intakes to reduce heat absorption from the engine. It’s sitting inside of a heat shield, to prevent hot air from penetrating the filter.
Hot air forms a high-pressure zone that’s an easy target for a well-designed intake. They’ll suck cool air from that pressure zone and pump it into the engine.
That’s how they’re able to boost your engine’s horsepower. It’s a minor innovation on the stock design that makes a huge difference in the end.
How Much Horsepower Does a Cold Air Intake Add?
It’s hard to determine the exact boost you’ll see to your engine’s horsepower. There are a ton of parts that could limit what you’ll notice once it’s in action.
However, we can give you a general range that’s accurate enough to make decisions. Most cars get a 5 to 20 HP boost after they’ve installed cold air intakes.
If your engine design has limited airflow already, it’ll be larger!
Some cars have stock intakes with relatively high flow rates as soon as they’re off the line. You wouldn’t notice a huge boost if you’re driving one of them because of that.
Replacing a restrictive intake has a larger impact than one that’s relatively open. The size of the boost you’ll see depends on how much it improves the engine’s flow. As its flow increases, its power boosts more and more.
Do Cold Air Intakes Actually Increase Power?
Cold air intakes deliver a boost to your vehicle’s power by using sound science. Increasing the air quality that’s entering your engine makes it more powerful.
Most of the time, your car has a stock intake that’s in a high-pressure zone. Manufacturers design them to account for numerous variables. But they’re not always concerned with delivering as much power as possible!
That’s why you can improve your engine’s power by replacing its intake. By installing a cold air intake, you’ll improve the car’s airflow.
Plus, it’ll receive air that’s higher-quality at the same time!
Cold air has a higher concentration of oxygen whenever it’s in the combustion chamber. If you’re able to get more oxygen in there, your fuel fully combusts. That’s why it increases your engine’s horsepower.
You weren’t combusting all the fuel when it was lit by the pistons. So, there was some power that was lost during each rotation. Fully combusting the fuel can even prevent the buildup of gunk in the engine’s interior.
Alternative Mods to Increase Your Vehicles Horsepower
The best mods to increase horsepower depend on your budget. If you want the largest possible boost, you’ve got to look at forced induction systems.
Turbochargers and superchargers both work on the same principle. They force more air into the combustion chamber to make sure all the fuel combusts. They can boost your vehicle’s horsepower by as much as 25% if they’re well-made.
You’ll also spend way more to get one of them. A turbo could run over $5,000, depending on the car. Superchargers don’t come any cheaper than that, usually.
Another way you can boost your engine’s power is by installing new camshafts. They hold open the fuel valve’s to let gas enter the chamber. You can see a boost of up to 30 hp by installing them in your car.
You can get a set of camshafts for around $150 if you’d like to install them on your car. Make sure you’ve got enough time to install everything because it takes a while.
Upgrading the exhaust is another way you’re able to boost horsepower. To really notice a boost, you’ve got to install a full exhaust kit. You’ll start by replacing the engine’s headers, using something larger.
A new header can improve the engine’s flow, and it will deliver more oxygen to the combustion chamber. You can also use tubing that has a larger diameter to increase flow as well.
You can also replace the existing crossover with an X-pipe. We’d also recommend using a high-flow catalytic converter to minimize restriction.
If your car has a carburetor, then you can upgrade it to boost its power. Using a high-flow fuel pump should give the engine more fuel when it’s running. Pair them with high-flow injectors to get the largest boost possible.
One of the best ways to upgrade a car’s power is by tuning its ECU. The electronic control unit controls how much fuel goes into the combustion chamber. Most of the time, you’re able to reprogram them if you have an OBDII port scanner.
Just plug into your car’s port and look at its coding. You may have to download new tunes. Then, you can update your car’s codes if you hook up the scanner to its port. After a few minutes, it’ll finish updating everything.
Tuning the engine can provide a 5% boost to its horsepower if it’s natural. A forced induction system would make the boost even larger. You can see a %50 boost if your car has a turbo installed.