Improving your vehicle’s fuel economy is a top priority for most drivers. As gas prices go up, getting the most out of every dollar and every gallon is more important than ever before.
One option that many consider is an aftermarket cold air intake. The question is – do cold air intakes really increase MPG?
Cold air intakes can improve fuel efficiency by 3-5 MPG, but only to the extent that they deliver more cold air than the stock intake in your vehicle. This can improve MPG but varies based on the component and your vehicle.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at how cold air intake systems work and why they can improve your vehicle’s fuel economy.
What Determines Vehicle Fuel Efficiency?
Your engine relies on the proper mix of fuel and air for combustion inside the engine’s cylinders that cause your vehicle to move forward.
To be more precise, every engine achieves optimal efficiency when there is a mix of 14.7 parts air to one part fuel. This is known as the stoichiometric air/fuel ratio.
If the mixture varies (either way), more fuel is used, but you don’t get an increase in engine power output. This negatively impacts your mileage.
As this continues, you may notice you are filling up more and more often, which costs you more money!
However, adding more air and fuel together while maintaining the above ratio means more power is created rather than lost. A cold air intake system can help you get this improved ratio, therefore increasing overall fuel efficiency.
Do Cold Air Intakes Increase MPG?
A cold air intake can help increase MPG. However, these aftermarket systems offer several other benefits for your vehicle, too!
Along with improved gas mileage, a cold air intake will also increase your horsepower. If you pair the system with a new exhaust, it will improve efficiency even further.
The cold air intake effectively improves your vehicle’s MPG because it allows more airflow to reach your engine. Keep in mind, though, that the increase in MPG depends on your vehicle.
While this is true, on average, installing the cold air intake will increase overall fuel economy by three to five MPG, which can help your wallet in the long run.
Do Cold Air Intakes Decrease MPG?
Cold air intakes are designed to improve your engine’s performance and efficiency. While this is true, they aren’t perfect.
For example, sometimes, the system can allow water to get into the engine, which can cause serious problems, including reduced MPG. However, having the mod installed properly and maintaining it regularly can help prevent this issue.
While reducing your vehicle’s MPG is possible, this is rare and usually only occurs if another problem is present.
Will a High Flow Air Filter Increase Gas Mileage?
You may wonder if installing a high-flow air filter will help to improve your vehicle’s gas mileage. This is a good question!
Unlike regular filters, a high-flow air filter does not have to be changed each year. It can also help improve your vehicle’s horsepower and torque, resulting in increased fuel efficiency.
Finding the Right Cold Air Intake System Is Necessary
If your goal is to improve fuel efficiency with your cold air intake system, finding a quality component from a reputable manufacturer is important.
With a quality system, more cool air is drawn into the engine. This helps ensure the fuel is burned more efficiently and evenly.
In fact, engineers have estimated that your power efficiency will increase by one percent for every 10 degrees cooler the air going into your engine.
If you want to invest in an aftermarket cold air intake system to improve gas mileage, be sure to determine if the stock air intake tubes have been placed behind a bumper opening or the grille. If so, you may see some gains in fuel economy, but they won’t be as significant.
While this is true, if the OEM air intake system draws in hot air from the vehicle’s engine bay, you should replace it with the cold air intake. This is going to draw in cooler air from outside the vehicle and away from the engine.
Does a Cold Air Intake Provide Benefits Besides Improved Fuel Economy?
The short answer to this question is – yes. It provides you with an efficient and reusable filter, which will keep debris, dust, dirt, and other particles away from your engine.
Unlike factory-installed filters that must be replaced continually, you can simply clean this filter and put it back in place.
The system will also offer more power to your vehicle. The cold air helps to introduce more oxygen to your engine during combustion.
This may increase total power by 20% or more. Over time, this results in a more efficient and stable engine while increasing your vehicle’s acceleration power.
Should You Invest in a Cold Air Intake System for Improved Fuel Economy?
Quality cold air intakes from reputable manufacturers can help increase airflow and MPG. Because of this, it is considered a smart and worthwhile aftermarket upgrade.
However, this component does more than just (potentially) increase your MPG. It can also improve horsepower and acceleration.
Keep in mind that the results you see may be different than what other vehicle owners experience. That’s because these aftermarket upgrades vary in quality and performance. To see the best results, be sure to purchase a quality product with proven results.
Being informed and knowing what the cold air intake system is capable of is the best way to figure out if this is an aftermarket investment you want to make.