How Does a Cold Air Intake Work

Cold air intakes are aftermarket vehicle parts, configured for drawing low-temperature air in order to enhance the engine performance. This article includes information about its working.
The performance of an engine depends on various factors, one of which is the combustion of fuel. As we all know, oxygen (air) is a basic necessity for burning fuel. In simpler terms, a mixture of air and gasoline is important for igniting the engine and determining its performance. A cold air intake is designed for drawing low-temperature air from outside, into a vehicle's internal combustion engine, in order to enhance the engine efficacy.


As compared to the regular preheated air intake inside the engine, low-temperature air has a higher density (for a specific volume) which is charged with more power. When the dense cold air enters into the engine, it is mixed with the fuel. The compressed air and fuel mixture expands more after being heated, resulting in greater combustion and eventually, higher horsepower. Prior to the implementation of cold air intake systems, car racers used containers for adding dry ice, which were placed adjacent to the carburetor for a greater engine mileage.

The system allows more air to enter the engine. Consequently, the oxygen received for fuel combustion is enhanced, thus resulting in better engine performance. Overall, a cold air intake works by increasing the rate of airflow in the internal combustion engine of the vehicle. As air is drawn faster, the heat absorption is less. One of its drawbacks is the increase in chances of hydrolock, in which moisture or water is introduced inside the engine, when a vehicle passes a flooded road.

For preventing the risk of hydrolock, you can install effective filter systems in the car. Otherwise, the tube should be installed at a higher position above the bumper, to prevent entry of water from the road. Another device for harvesting outside air is the short ram intake. The main difference between the two is that, the latter derives air from the engine bay. The effectiveness of short ram intake for elevating engine efficacy is controversial.

In comparison to other performance enhancing equipment, a cold air intake is less expensive and easy to install. These aftermarket car parts are available in various materials, sizes and colors. Do not opt for metal parts; you can select a device which is made of either plastic or rubber. As metal is a good conductor of heat, it absorbs heat from the surroundings, which in turn makes the air thinner before entering the internal combustion engine. An alternative for using metal made system is to wrap asbestos around it.

You can purchase a system that matches your car and meets your requirements. Nevertheless, a superior quality cold air intake system is always preferred in order to reduce engine noise and enhance the appearance of the car engine bay. Always check for the brand, performance, and warranty, while shopping for such a system. In day-to-day usage, it is used to signify any system that enhances the oxygen flow inside the engine.