Cold Air Intake For Increased HP: How Much Does It Add?

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For those looking to make modifications to their vehicle and increase the performance, a cold air intake can be a great choice. It filters cold air into the engine, boosting the horsepower and improving the engine’s performance. However, it’s important to consider whether the cost is worth it and the potential problems you may encounter.

A cold air intake can add 5-20 horsepower, but this depends on the make, model, and condition of your vehicle. It will also increase the sound of your vehicle. Clean the filter regularly to prevent any issues with the cold air intake.

Let’s take a closer look at adding a cold air intake to your vehicle, including how much horsepower you can expect and the best cold air intake options. We’ll also go over the signs that something is wrong with your cold air intake, so that you can keep an eye out.

How Much HP Does a Cold Air Intake Add?

Car Open Air Intake Filter with DIY Heat Shield

Cold air intake can, on average, increase your vehicle’s horsepower by 5-20. There isn’t a fixed number, as there are many variables that may put your increase at the lower or higher end of the scale. Things that can affect the number include the make and model of the car, the age of the car, and the engine.

That’s not enough to give your car a whole new lease of life, so if you’re expecting a dramatic change, adding a cold air intake may be disappointing.

However, if you’re just making modifications to your vehicle and looking to improve the performance, adding a cold air intake could do wonders for you.

Does Cold Air Intake Increase Sound?

The simple answer is yes, adding a cold air intake will increase the sound of your car and make your engine louder.

Again, this won’t be an extreme difference — which, in this case, is likely a good thing — but you’ll definitely notice that your engine runs a little louder than you’re used to.

Which Intake Gives the Most Horsepower?

If your goal from adding a cold air intake is to get the most horsepower added to your vehicle, then the best choice is K&N 57 Series FIPK Air Intake (on Amazon).

Although this manufacturer makes a number of cold air intakes, this one is legal in every state and has a washable air filter so that you can easily keep it in the best condition. 

There are other good choices, however, with K&N offering other models and S&B also offering some kits that can add a significant amount of horsepower.

Can a Cold Air Intake Cause Problems?

Car Engine Bay with Open Air Intake & DIY Heat Shield

If your cold air intake is functioning well, then it shouldn’t cause any problems with the vehicle. However, if it begins to fail or even just encounters minor problems, it can lead to larger issues down the road.

Engine Performance Problems

If you fail to clean the cold air intake and it becomes clogged, you may notice some issues with the engine. This can include failing to start, losing fuel efficiency, and numerous other problems.

If you encounter an issue with your engine and can’t understand the cause, look to your cold air intake first — especially if you’ve failed to keep up with the maintenance.

Fortunately, this should be an easy fix if it’s your cold air intake causing the problem.

Check Engine Light

The check engine light covers all manner of issues, but if it comes on and you can’t locate the cause, the problem may involve your cold air intake.

Because its responsible for giving the engine air, a problem or fault in the air intake can cause your vehicle to detect that something is wrong, and its highly advisable you check it immediately in this case.

High Idle

If you have a surging idle, then it may reflect a problem with a vacuum leak on the cold air intake. Air may be leaking away from the engine. 

Overall, however, cold air intakes shouldn’t cause any issues as long as they’re installed properly and are well-maintained. However, if you don’t clean out the filter or if your cold air intake is particularly old, it may break down over time. Keep an eye on your intake to make sure all is in order.