What Is Bad About Cold Air Intakes?

by Stephen Andrew Baldwin
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Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Nathan

Aftermarket intake kits are generally safe to use on your car or truck, but there are problems that can arise which can hurt the performance of your vehicle and even damage your engine in some cases.


Depending on the brand, the filter can be made of anything from cloth to foam to paper. Aftermarket intake manifolds are uncovered so the filter is the only thing between your engine and debris. The foam filters give a little extra horsepower but they're more susceptible to allowing dirt and debris into your engine.


The biggest concern to your vehicle is hydrolocking, which occurs when the engine takes in water instead of air. The water gets trapped in the cylinders of the engine. Since water doesn't compress, this can ruin your pistons and cause your connecting rods to bend.


It has been found that cold air intakes with a 90-degree bend can offset your car's idle, especially when combined with other aftermarket parts. This causes problems when air is being sucked into the engine, because it causes the air to roll.


This rolling effect can throw off the mass air meter, giving an inaccurate reading back to the engine, which throws off the proper air-to-fuel mixture. This can cause your engine to stall.


A good alternative is a short ram intake, which does not have a 90-degree bend, and causes little, if any, loss of horsepower.

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