The internal combustion engine is at its essence a large, complex air pump. Air is sucked in through the intake, mixed with fuel, burnt and then exhausted. So, by design, the more air you can feed an engine, the more powerful it will be. And, since cold air is much more dense than hot air, shoveling great gulps of cool air makes maximum power. Enter the cold air intake.
The Benefits of a Cold Air Intake Kit
Originally designed by K&N many years ago, the CAI replaces the factory air box and air filter with a free-flowing air intake tube and performance filter. This lets much more air get to the engine, resulting in added performance. Now, since we’ve established that the engine is an air pump, it seems logical that you can only give it so much air before you encounter diminishing returns. A great example is a diesel Dodge Ram cold air intake versus a gasoline Toyota Tacoma cold air intake. A diesel engine is a massive air pump, and an intake kit will result in 40 or more horsepower. On the other hand, the gas engine is much smaller and you can expect about 10 – 15 extra ponies.
Choosing the Right Air Intake System
There is no doubt among enthusiasts as to the effectiveness of the CAI. But once you start shopping around, you’re faced with a new dilemma—which brand to go with. With so many brands, including the aforementioned K&N, it can be hard to choose. But some brands specialize in different designs. A Volant cold air intake is geared toward trucks (think Nissan Titan cold air intake), a Spectre cold air intake is popular for compact tuners, an Airaid cold air kit is great for diesels, and AEM CAI is perfect for exotics like a Ferrari or BMW cold air intake. But, if the thousands of K&N cold air intake reviews out there mean anything, it seems that K&N is still king of CAI.
Add Horsepower with an Air Intake System
So, no matter which brand you go with, the answer to the “what do cold air intakes do” question is simple: they deliver more air for massive boosts in horsepower, torque and free-breathing driving excitement!