Are Intercoolers Worth It For Your Truck Build?

June 23, 2022

Everything You Need To Know About Truck Intercoolers

There are few things in this world that sound as sweet as the sound of turbo whistle. Let's face it, it's just so damn good. Having a good day? Turbo whistle will make you smile. Having a bad day? Turbo whistle will still make you smile. Not sure what kind of day you're having? You guessed it - turbo whistle. And just like every good story, turbos have a partner in crime, just like Batman and Robin.

We're talking about intercoolers today - this aluminum radiator-looking thing helps keep your intake temperatures cool and ultimately brings you more horsepower. But how does an intercooler work? Which ones are good, and better yet, which ones are the best if you're chasing big numbers? Today, we'll be answering all those questions so you can see just which intercooler might be for you.

aFe Power blade runner intercooler

What Is An Intercooler And How Does It Work?

An intercooler, by all definitions, is a mechanical device used to cool the intake air in an engine with either a turbo or supercharger. That sounds fancy, but it just goes something like this: Turbos and superchargers work by compressing the air going into the engine. This compression packs more air into the cylinders - that's called boost, and it allows each cylinder to burn more fuel per stroke, ultimately making more power.

Now, when the turbo or supercharger compresses the air, that creates friction. Friction creates heat, and this heat causes the intake air to be less dense, limiting the amount of fuel that you can put into the cylinder, then limiting the power output overall.

This is where an intercooler comes in - before the air enters the engine, it goes through the intercooler and then external air comes through the cooling channels, which inevitably lowers the temperatures of that intake air, making it denser and giving you more power as a result.

More Performance FAQs: How Much Power Do Engine Tuners Add To Trucks?

Mishimoto air to water intercooler

Air To Air vs. Water To Water Intercoolers

When it comes to intercoolers, there are two main types - you have air to air, and air to water. The most common of the two is air-to-air intercoolers, which is what we'll be talking about the most today.

Air-to-air intercoolers use air that you're driving through to essentially cool your intake air - it works a lot like a radiator. These are different than air to water intercoolers, which use coolant systems to cool the air. This would be like an actual radiator, and because of the additional materials used, air-to-water intercoolers are usually more expensive, more complex, and not as common as their air-to-air counterparts.

It's important to note here that most but not all diesel trucks will come with an intercooler of some sort unless you have a Ford for some reason.

Read More: What Are The Best Types Of Brakes For Towing?

Banks Power truck engine intercooler

What Are The Best Truck Intercooler Brands?

So let's say you're looking to upgrade your intercooler. Which ones are worth talking about? The good news here is that we have quite a few intercooler brands in our store that you can take a look at, and we've highlighted three below.

Features of AFE Intercoolers

For starters, we're taking a look at AFE intercoolers, also known as blade runners. These intercoolers pack a punch when it comes to performance for your money - they're thicker, beefier, and larger than most competitors. These intercoolers have been proven to lower intake temps up to 200 degrees, which is a lot when you live in a place where the air hurts your face. The all-aluminum design and TIG weld on AFE intercoolers make these great products for the money.


Features of Mishimoto Intercoolers

If you're looking for something a bit nicer, Mishimoto might be the brand for you. These intercoolers are also TIG-welded, and they're available in all sorts of colors, including black. Overall, they're just solid quality products, and they're all stock-fit intercoolers, which means that they bolt right into the stock location. This means that you won't have to cut your radiator support to make them fit or fabricate some brackets to get them in there. Mishimoto has been in the industry for a long time, so you know that you'll have years of testing and product knowledge behind anything you buy.


Features of Banks Power Intercoolers

Of course, we couldn't talk about intercoolers without mentioning the one and only Banks Power. There are a lot of companies out there that talk the talk, but few that walk the walk as well as Banks Power does. Not only does Banks spend a ton of time on product engineering, but they also flow test each one of their products against top competitors, and they will not release a product unless it outperforms the competition - that's a fact.

What this means is that when you're buying Banks Power, you know you're getting the best of the best and it's going to perform. When it comes to intercoolers and boost gains, Banks has test data that says that their intercooler increased boost by 45% over stock, gave them 12% denser air than stock, and gave them a whopping 96% more efficient cooling flow than a stock intercooler. All that is cool, but the long and short of it is that a Banks intercooler will give you more proven, tested performance time and time again.


Shop Truck Intercoolers At Custom Offsets

With all that said, if you're in the market for a new intercooler, we've got plenty from Banks Power, Mishimoto, aFe Power, and plenty of other top brands. Check out our inventory today and let us know if we can lend a hand. Also, if you've ever swapped an intercooler in your truck, let us know how it went!

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