Every car performance fanatic or enthusiast wants to scrape on every bit of horsepower and torque they can get out of their engines. A cold air intake system is one of the few options that are easy to install and quite friendly to your wallet. There are plenty of cold air intakes on the market; therefore, we have compiled our best picks to help you narrow down to the right system for your vehicle:

1. Spectre Performance 9900

Spectre Performance Air Intake Kit: High Performance, Desgined to Increase Horsepower: Fits 1999-2007 CHEVROLET/GMC/CADILLAC (Silverado, Avalanche, Suburban, Tahoe, Sierra, Yukon, Escalade) SPE-9900
  • DESIGNED TO INCREASE HORSEPOWER AND TORQUE: Dyno-tested with up to 50% more airflow than restrictive factory box air filter and intake tube
  • BETTER TOWING: Improves acceleration and uphill performance when towing by improving throttle response.
  • IMPROVED ENGINE SOUND: Hear the power under the hood.
  • WORLD CLASS PROTECTION: Pushing the limits of engine protection by protecting your engine from harmful contaminants and debris
  • EASY MAINTENANCE: No filter cleaning required for up to 100,000 miles

GM Trucks 99-07

If you own a GM truck from 1999 to 2007, the Spectre Performance 9900 is precisely what you need to make it roar even louder. But this high-quality cold air intake system is not just limited to GM trucks as it can be easily modified to fit other cars, like Cadillacs and Chevrolets, to boost their performance and torque. First, it's priced relatively lower than other cold air intakes in the market, yet it offers the same performance as premium options.

It comes with a top-quality air filter that ensures neither dirt nor particles get to your engine. The Spectre 9900 cold air intake also features a black powder-covered heat shield to ensure the engine's heat does not damage the filter while in use. The kit is fairly easy to install and generally takes about 30 minutes to be fitted in, ready for testing. On top of it all, it available in several color options, so you'll definitely find something that matches your desired look.

  •   Pros
  • Reasonably priced.
  • Comes in several colors.
  • Can be modified for other cars easily
  • High-quality porous air filter.
  • Pre-oiled filter is washable and reusable.
  • Black-powder-covered heat shield.
  • Quick installation
  •   Cons
  • The aluminum pipe can raise intake temperature slightly.
  • The aluminum can get quite hot. Handle with caution.

2. S&B Filters 75-5068

K&N Cold Air Intake Kit: High Performance, Increase Horsepower: Compatible with 2009-2019 Dodge/RAM (1500, 2500, 3500, 1500 Classic) 5.7L V8, 71-1561
  • ULTIMATE LONGEVITY: 10-Year/Million Mile Limited Warranty protects for the life of your vehicle
  • GUARANTEED INCREASE IN HORSEPOWER: Dyno-tested with up to 50% more airflow than restrictive factory box air filter and intake tube
  • BETTER TOWING: Improves acceleration and uphill performance when towing by improving throttle response
  • IMPROVED ENGINE SOUND: Hear the power under the hood
  • WORLD CLASS PROTECTION: Pushing the limits of engine protection by protecting your engine from harmful contaminants

Dodge RAM 2500 & 3500 6.7L

The S7B 75-506B is an exceptional cold air intake built for Dodge cars made in 2013-2018. The first thing that'll probably catch your eye is the system's aesthetics, and we can assure you this kit looks pretty stunning in the engine bay. Arguably the best part about this cold air intake is that it improves airflow and intake by roughly 55%, translating to a boost in the engine's overall performance and throttle response. Plus, it also delivers a louder roar to your engine.

The high-flow air filter is made of top-quality material, doing a spectacular job of catching even the finest particles that can clog up the kit or your engine. Replacing your old intake system with the S&B 75-506B takes just about an hour to install, and the process itself is pretty straightforward. However, this cold air intake system is quite hard to modify for other vehicles, meaning it's somewhat restricted in use. It's also slightly more expensive than most other options on this guide, but you can be confident that the kit will significantly back up your Dodge's performance.

  •   Pros
  • Easy installation.
  • Powerful, high-quality air filter.
  • Great fit for compatible engine bays.
  • High-quality silicone parts.
  • Engineered to avoid Check Engine lights.
  • Improves engine performance substantially.
  •   Cons
  • Limited in use.
  • The kit is hard to modify for other models.
  • Quite expensive.

3. HPS Cold Air Intake Kit 27-165WB

HPS 27-165WB Short Ram Air Intake Kit
  • Fits: 2003-2009 Mazda3 2.0L/2.3L Non Turbo
  • Replaces the stock restrictive air intake box, increases horsepower, overall air flow and improve throttle response
  • Mandrel-bent aluminum tube piping for optimal air flow
  • Includes K&N High-Flow Performance, Washable/Reusable Air Filter which is backed by Million Mile Limited Warranty
  • Dyno Proven Performance Gains with safe air fuel ratio

Mazda 2.0 & 2.3

This is yet another high-performance air intake specifically made for Mazda cars, the 2.0L and 2.3L engines made between 2003 to 2009. This system is built to improve power and torque right out of the box, something you'll experience immediately after installing the kit in your Mazda engine. Generally, this cold air intake boosts your Mazda's performance by 5 to 15 horsepower. Not to mention, it also gives your engine a notably louder roar.

It's a one-piece unit, meaning installation is pretty quick. Furthermore, it comes with clear installation instructions that can guide you. The HPS 27 165BL sports a remarkably high-quality and sturdy construction, so you don't have to worry about the kit's durability. It's also lightweight, although it features aluminum piping to deliver air to the engine seamlessly. More so, there's a special adapter that allows you to install a Mass Air Flow Sensor with comparative ease.

  •   Pros
  • High-quality construction.
  • Boosts horsepower and torque.
  • Boost engine sound.
  • Easy installation since it's a single component.
  • Clear installation instructions with visuals.
  • Extremely durable and solid quality.
  •   Cons
  • Aluminum absorbs heat, warming up the intake air.
  • Aluminum can get quite hot.

4. Volant 151536 PowerCore

Volant 151536 PowerCore Cool Air Intake
  • PowerCore cool air intake kit
  • For 2001-2006 Chevy/GM/Cadillac Truck, SUV
  • Maintenance free PowerCore filter.Tube Material: Polyethylene
  • Improved efficiency
  • Meets OEM filter standard

Chevrolet, GM & Cadillac 4.8/5.3/6.0 L

If you're looking for a sound upgrade, plus fresh and cool air for your GM, Chevy or Cadillac 2001-2006, the Volant cold air intake system might be the perfect choice for you. Plenty of car fanatics and enthusiasts are massive fans of the sound of this cold air intake sucking in the air -you could be one of them. This kit is more suited for SUVs and heavy vehicles, but it can also be modified for smaller cars.

The Volant 151536 stands out among other cold air intakes due to its superior quality and results. It's a high-performance air intake that boosts vehicle performance, throttle performance and fuel economy, by extension. The airbox is well-built to ensure that air does not leak at all. Furthermore, the high-grade steel clamps ensure that the box remains tightly closed.

The airbox on this air intake is also well insulated, ensuring that hot engine air doesn't get through and mess with the cooler airflow. You're unlikely to run into any installation issues as the process is fairly straightforward. The Volant 151536 might be pricier than other cold air intakes, but the quality delivered is certainly full value for your money. In any case, this performance cold air intake comes backed by a 1-year warranty, so you don't have to worry about spending a bit more.

  •   Pros
  • Well-insulated and protective airbox.
  • Boosts fuel economy and throttle response.
  • Custom design to fit different cars and models.
  • High-performance and high-quality silicon connectors.
  • High-grade steel clamps.
  • Easy to install.
  • 1-year warranty.
  •   Cons
  • Prohibited in California.
  • A bit expensive.

5. Airraid 451-328 MXP

Airaid Cold Air Intake System: Increased Horsepower, Superior Filtration: Compatible with 2015-2017 FORD (Mustang GT)AIR-451-328
  • Performance Intake System
  • Increased Horsepower/Torque and Fuel Efficiency
  • Easy to install with basic hand tools
  • No-Hassle Warranty
  • Fit type: Vehicle Specific

Ford Mustang GT 5.0 V8 2015-2017

The Airraid 451-328 is designed specifically for Ford GT vehicles. This high-performance air intake targets people who own a Ford Mustang GT 5.0 V8 from 2015 to 2017. The performance improvement is straight-up evident right after installation, with a clear boost in power, air intake and quality. The 451-328 features a streamlined airbox with funnels, allowing cold air to go through the intake tube and cool the warm air inside it too.

This cold air intake comes with a top-quality and sturdy filter that does an exceptional job of filtering dirt and debris, meaning your vehicle gets fresh and clean air that doesn't choke the filter. It also features double piping that looks pretty neat under the hood. On top of the boosts in performance, you can also expect the kit to increase your Ford's throttle response, translating to overall better car performance.

  •   Pros
  • High-quality product.
  • Made in the USA.
  • Easy installation.
  • Significant power boost, with improved acceleration and throttle response.
  • The air filter can be rewashed & re-oiled.
  •   Cons
  • Is prohibited in California due to certain rules and regulations

Factors to Consider in the Best Cold Air Intake System

1. Type of Vehicle

Taking full advantage of a cold air intake solely depends on your specific conditions and requirements. Say, if you got a system built for SUVs for your truck, you'd end up causing problems to your engine because trucks have different thermal characteristics to SUVs. Therefore, the best cold air intake depends on the type of vehicle; get one that's compatible with your machine.

2. Engine Specification

Different engines have different requirements and different mountings. You don't expect a sedan's cold air intake to fit and function right into a monster truck. In the same case with the type of vehicle, you must ensure that you choose a cold air intake compatible with your vehicle's engine specifications.

3. Oil vs. Dry Filter

Before choosing the type of air filter to opt for, you should check if your vehicle has a mass airflow (MAF) sensor. It's normally located between the engine and the filter, although some vehicles come with a MAP sensor.

Oiled filters offer better filtration and are also easier to clean and reuse severally for a long time. However, they tend to leak into MAF sensors and even damage them sometimes. Therefore, if your vehicle has a MAF sensor, you might be better off with a dry filter.

4. Aluminium vs.Plastic Pipes

Choosing between these two largely depends on you who ask. Aluminum pipes are more affordable, but they can get quite hot and inconvenient if you have to do anything under the hood. Plastic pipes might be more expensive, but they certainly deliver better aesthetics in the engine bay, especially if you're going for an OEM look.

5. Filter Replacement

It's also important to consider how frequently you'll have to replace the kit's filter. Most top cold air intakes come with washable filters that never have to be replaced. However, some do have filters that have to be changed within a given mileage. If you opt for such a cold air intake, first ensure that the filters can be bought separately before buying the system. In fact, if your filter has to be replaced every now and then, you be might be worth buying several of them at a go for your kit.

6. Included Parts

You must also ensure that the cold air intake kit you choose comes with all the necessary components. These include the filter, silicone hoses, pipes and other basic parts depending on the specific model. However, it's worth noting that some cold air intakes don't come with a filter, and it has to be bought separately.

7. Price

Just as important, you'll also have to look at how much it'll cost you to buy the desired cold air intake kit. You can definitely find cheaper models, but these can be hard to fit or the filter might not be as effective. This can lead to dirt flowing into the vehicle's engine, damaging it in the process and setting you back in high repair costs. That said, you also don't need to dig too deep into your pocket to get the right cold air intake system for your vehicle. In this guide, we've featured the top, reasonably-priced cold air intakes that give you the best value for money.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Cold Air Intakes

1. What is the difference between OEM products and aftermarket?

OEM refers to Original Equipment Manufacturer, and it entails your vehicle's manufacturer and any subsidiary companies they work with or use. On the other hand, aftermarket products are manufactured by third-party providers, built to be more universally applicable hence more affordable.

2. What are the drawbacks to aftermarket cold air intake systems?

Occasionally, some manufacturers use air filter media that's not sufficiently dense to collect micro-level particles attempting to enter the engine. If they do get to your engine, these particles can lead to costly damages later on. Furthermore, mounting hardware, piping and general design are all elements that must be examined carefully when you're buying an aftermarket automotive product. The same applies to aftermarket cold air intakes.

3. Do cold air intakes lead problems with the air/fuel ratio?

It depends. For instance, if the intake pipe is either too wide or narrow, or the air flow isn't smooth, then such defects can disrupt the air/fuel ratio, resulting in engine problems down the road. Unfortunately, the extra power and torque provided by the cold air intake can easily mask such problems.

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