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Does a Cold Air Intake Make Your Car Louder?

Does a Cold Air Intake Make Your Car Louder?

If you’re interested in increasing your car’s performance by adding a cold air intake, you may also find yourself wondering if adding one will also make it louder.

Changing the intake on your car can make it louder when you’re driving it. Most cars have stock intakes that limit the amount of noise they’re able to produce. Adding a cold air intake will make it sound louder and more aggressive.

That’s because a new intake can have a wider diameter, letting sound propagate easily. Using a wide intake means the sound has more room to travel through it. So, more of it makes it out of the intake.

Everyone’s car has its own sound. Your stock intake has limited what you’ve been able to hear while you’re driving. They usually have a lot of material covering them to prevent them from making noise.

Do Cold Air Intakes Make Your Car Louder?

Your car makes a lot of noise when it’s on, even if you can’t hear them. Most of it comes from the mechanical components inside of the engine. Using a cold air intake can make them sound louder since they open up the engine.

Adding a cold air intake lets you hear how your engine sounds a lot better. There won’t be as much blocking the sound that’s coming from it when you turn on your car.

Typically, they’ll also make the engine sound deeper, too. A lot of drivers describe them as aggressive.

So, if you enjoy aggressive-sounding cars, try installing a cold air intake. It might help you make your car sound how you’d like.

closeup of car exhaust

Why Do Cold Air Intakes Change Sound?

What is it about a cold air intake that causes it to change how your car sounds? Sound is a wave that’s able to propagate through the air. We’re able to change how something sounds by upgrading its intake.

A new intake can be shorter than the old one. Shortening the intake on your car means sound doesn’t have to travel as far. So, there’s less dampening before it’s able to make it out of the engine.

Also, cold air intakes don’t have as much shielding. Most stock intakes have housing units that minimize noise. So, they prevent you from hearing your engine’s natural sound production.

There are a ton of cold air intakes that use wide tubing. Using a wider diameter tube for the car’s intake allows it to emit more noise. Plus, large-diameter tubing sounds deeper. So, it can make your car sound like it’s an octave lower than usual.

The wider your intake tubes are, the deeper your engine will sound. The shorter they are, the louder it will be. Look for an intake that has the shortest and widest tubing possible. That’s how you’ll make your car sound the best.

Does a Cold Air Intake Make Your Turbo Louder?

Installing a turbo on your car can change how it sounds when you’re taking it for a drive. It’s only going to make a difference once you’re up to speed, though.

Forced induction systems don’t work until you’ve built up enough pressure to spin them. After they’re spinning, a turbo sounds similar to a jet engine. Adding a cold air intake can make it easier to hear them when they’re making noise.

However, the best way to hear a turbo is by driving really fast! High-speed driving is going to make their blades spin a lot faster, so they’ll make more noise.

You can also get a larger turbo if you’d like to hear them more. If you get one that’s more powerful, it’ll make more sound when it’s on.

Does a Cold Air Intake Change the Sound of Your Exhaust?

A cold air intake doesn’t do anything to your car’s exhaust system. So, it shouldn’t make much of a difference to how they sound, either. However, you may notice a slight increase in your exhaust’s sound production.

That’s because a cold air intake can increase how much air is flowing through the engine. Air enters the engine where you’ve installed the intake. From there, it flows through and goes into the pistons. It mixes with fuel to help make sure it ignites in the combustion chamber.

Air leaves the engine after it’s ejected from the combustion chamber. It travels from there and leaves out of the exhaust. If you’re able to increase the amount of air entering the engine, you’ll increase how much is leaving as well.

So, you may notice a slight increase in how loud your exhaust is. There are much more effective ways to increase its loudness, though. Simply upgrading your car’s exhaust pipes would make a much larger difference, usually.

What Cold Air Intake Is the Loudest?

Each car will have its own intake selection. Most of them will make your car louder once you’ve replaced its stock unit. However, some of them may have a larger effect than others.

You can find the one that’s the best for your car by looking at a few factors. How large is the tubing on the new intake? Compare its diameter to the one on your car already.

The more you’re able to expand its diameter, the deeper your car is going to sound. Try finding an intake that’s at least 20% larger than the stock intake on your car. That’s enough of a difference to noticeably deepen the tone of your car’s intake.

Measure the length of your car’s stock intake whenever you’d like to replace it, too. Use that to compare with the length of cold air intakes while you’re shopping. The shorter you’re able to make the intake, the louder the car will be.

Shortening your car’s intake by 15% should be enough to hear a difference. You can make it even louder by finding one that’s shorter than that, though.

Other Ways to Make Your Car Louder

Most noise exits your car from one of two places. Some of it leaves the intake, which we’ve discussed. The other place sound exits your engine is its exhaust. You can actually make your car louder by changing its exhaust.

Upgrading your car’s exhaust might make more of a difference than messing with its intake, too.

One of the simplest ways to make your car louder is by removing its muffler. Most of the time, taking it off is a relatively easy process. You’ll notice a massive difference after you’ve taken it off the car, too.

A muffler’s main job is making your car less noisy. So, taking it off has a way of making it way louder. You’ll want to check your local laws before doing this mod, though. Not everywhere lets you drive a car without putting a muffler on it.

You can technically straight pipe a car to make it noisier. However, you’re only going to be able to do this if you’ve got a racecar. It’s not legal to drive a car on the road without a catalytic converter.

Adding a resonator to your car’s exhaust is legal, though. You can put one of them on the end of its existing exhaust pipe to make it louder. They’ll create a chamber where sound vibrates before exiting, making them louder.

If you’ve got a little more time on your hands, drilling holes into the exhaust also works.

Drilling Holes Into the Exhaust

Putting a few holes into your car’s exhaust pipe will make it sound louder. That’s because the holes let sound escape from it before they’re dampened by the car’s muffler.

Just take a 3/8 inch drill bit and use it to put a few of them in the exhaust pipe. Make sure you’re placing them after the catalytic converter, though. Drilling them before that isn’t legal.

You also have to make sure you’re not placing them near the O2 sensor. That’s usually somewhere after the catalytic converter, too. Take a look at your car’s manual to see if it’s got a diagram where you can find its location.

Only drill a couple of holes in the car’s exhaust pipe, or you might damage it. We’d recommend drilling fewer than 6 of them. That’s enough to make your car sound way louder without damaging its exhaust system.

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Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!