Your Cart Is Empty

How to Shop for Cold Air Intakes

Cold Air Intakes vs. Short Ram Intakes

Cold Air Intake

  • This is a full-length intake that places the air filter near a cool source of air, like an inner fender well, or behind the front bumper
  • Cold air intakes draw in air that’s cooler and more dense, so your ride will make the most power with this type of system
  • Many cold air intakes are 50-state (CARB) emissions certified. This means they are legal for use in all 50 states. When shopping, look for a footnote that indicates whether or not the intake is legal in your state
  • Due to cold air intake's filter location, it can potentially pull in water. Consider a pre-filter or filter wrap to keep water out

    Shop for Cold Air Intakes

Short Ram Intake

  • Just like the name implies, these intakes use a shorter intake tube that draws air from the area around your engine
  • Sometimes, a cold air intake simply won’t fit in your engine compartment or can be too difficult to install. When this is the case, a short ram intake is your easiest way to improve air flow into your engine and build more power over using a factory intake
  • Due to where short ram intakes mount, installing & maintaining them is easier than cold air intakes

    Shop for Short Ram Intakes

Open Element vs. Enclosed Airbox Design

Open Element

  • When an air filter is clamped to the intake tube, but is not surrounded by an airbox, it’s known as an “open element"
  • Because an open element filter has more exposed surface area than enclosed airbox designs, open element filters can potentially out-flow them
  • When you want to see how dirty your open element filter is, simply pop the hood, take a look and you’re done

Enclosed Airbox Design

  • Many OEM and cold air intakes place their filters in an enclosed box. This forces the engine to draw air from a specific, and usually cooler, area
  • Enclosed airbox designs are typically a little quieter than an open element setups while going wide open throttle.
  • If you don’t want to see a filter full of bugs every time you lift the hood, or accidentally brush against a nasty air filter when you work on your car, choose an enclosed airbox design. This style is sure to keep your engine compartment cleaner when compared to running an open element filter

Filter Materials Used in Cold Air Intakes


  • This reusable filter style employs a cotton gauze media that’s sandwiched by a stainless steel mesh
  • Oiled filters tend to have fewer layers than other filter types and instead, rely on a light coating of oil to attract and trap dirt
  • Depending on how dusty the roads in your area are, some oiled filters can go as far as 50,000 miles in between cleanings. Be sure to use warm, soapy water when cleaning, air dry and apply a very light coating of oil to the filter before reinstalling


  • Dry filters use a cotton gauze or synthetic media in up to 7 progressively finer layers to trap dirt
  • These filters can perform just as well as oiled filters but need to be cleaned with soapy water and reinstalled every 30,000 miles

Donaldson PowerCore

  • This filter is unique to Volant intakes and uses a high-flow proprietary filter media that’s formed into a canister shape
  • Available airflow through these filters in on par with dry-style filters, but they can catch and trap far more dirt. As a matter of fact, a PowerCore filter that was used for over 140,000 miles was found to contain over 1 lb of dirt, and still provided better airflow than a factory paper air filter
  • PowerCore filters require no maintenance and are advertised to last up to 5 years 100,000 miles, depending on road conditions, before needing to be replaced. The previous example shows this is a conservative estimate

Choosing a Street Legal Cold Air Intake

Related Videos

Shop Popular Trucks

Top Makes

Top Models

Next Steps

Shop Popular Cold Air Intakes

Shop Top Cold Air Intake Brands

Shop All Cold Air Intakes

Questions & Comments