Cold Air Induction – Worth It?

installedCF_CAICold Air Induction kits—the ever popular, relatively low cost performance adders that always seem to be first on the list of mods for performance enthusiasts.  We even carry many of them here at FRANJO SPEED.  Lots of folks swear by them, others question their usefulness.  Yes, they look cooler than factory intakes; yes, most offer less restrictive air flow; yes, they offer an “edgier” sound and improved throttle response; yes they CAN provide a colder, more dense charge of air; and yes, they CAN offer slightly more power and fuel economy.  As with any mod, though, results depend on application, product design, implementation and intended driving style (hence uses of “CAN” in previous sentence).

Here’s our point of view on how to get good results with your Cold Air Induction kit:

  • Inlet tube:  Should be as straight as possible, with smooth bends when necessary. Also, polished or painted metal tubes look nice, but metal gets heat soaked (so much for “cold” air).  Plastic/rubber tubes don’t get as hot and are less expensive.  If you really want an impressive look–and don’t mind paying a premium–consider real carbon fiber (CF) tubes.  Like plastic/rubber kits, CF tubes will be cooler than metal and CF has the added benefit of weight savings.
  • Filter:  Most kits come with an upgraded, reusable cotton filter.  Check to make sure CFM rating is sufficient for your setup.  Also, buy a spare filter.  That way, you can install the spare so you don’t have to wait for the one you’ve just cleaned to dry before you can drive.  Filter should be located as far from engine as reasonably possible, although we’re not fond of kits that place filter down low in engine bay as they can pick up water in rain/snow.
  • Heat shield:  If the CAI filter is completely exposed in your engine bay, it could actually be bringing in hotter air than the stock intake.  Good kits will come with a heat shield that isolates filter.
  • Connections:  Where inlet tube transitions to throttle body, filter or rubber/silicone couplings, internal connections should be flush.  Stepped edges interrupt smooth air flow.  Kit should also accommodate any factory sensors or hoses that were part of stock setup.
  • Engine tune:  Depending on the make/model of your car, and whether the Cold Air Induction kit you’ve purchased truly flows more air, it is a good idea to apply a modified tune to the car’s Engine Control Module (ECM) to get the most out of your cold air kit.  Some cars may even require a modified tune for them to run properly.  Check the Cold Air Induction kit’s manufacturer’s recommendations for your particular application, or call us here at FRANJO SPEED for help.  And remember, as with all mods, a tune specific to your setup can take greater advantage of your upgrades.
  • Now that you’ve increased your intake airflow, how about exhaust?  Shouldn’t exhaling be as free-flowing as your inhaling?  And so it begins…


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