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Do Intakes Actually Do Anything?

August 12, 2021

If you hear your buddy talking about installing a cold air intake into his build, do you know exactly what that is and why he’s doing it? If not, keep reading to find out what an intake system does and what the benefits are to installing an aftermarket cold air intake system. If you are familiar with this process, you might be questioning, “Do intakes actually do anything?” We’re going to unravel the truth behind how a cold air intake will affect your truck’s performance. 







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cold air intake


What is an Intake System?

Your vehicle’s intake system has three primary components: air filter, mass flow sensor, and throttle body. When working together, these components will bring outside air into your engine’s intake manifold which will mix with the fuel in your tank. From there, the air and fuel create internal combustion sent through the vehicle’s cylinder that translates into energy. This energy helps turn your vehicle’s vehicles with the help of the transmission system. 


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An intake system is very important to a vehicle, as it might not run without it. An intake system allows drivers to control speed due to regulating the internal combustion reactions within your vehicle. 




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The air filter within the system filter out dirt and particles from the air that’s being brought in so that it doesn’t clog the intake system. This helps prevent damage to your engine. Plus, you’ll experience better performance results by taking in the purest oxygen possible. 


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The mass flow sensor is then used to identify how much air is entering the engine system. This is necessary because the internal combustion reaction needs to me monitored and balanced so that the right amount of energy will be produced to fulfill driving needs at any given time. 


cold air intake


The throttle body controls the airflow through the mass flow sensor. When you accelerate, engine throttle plates open in order to feed air into the engine. When that plate opens, more air can flow into the engine which will result in increased power and speed. 




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Why Do People Get Cold Air Intakes?

So, if your vehicle already has a functioning intake system, then why do people buy aftermarket cold air intakes to install? What purpose do they serve? Well, like many other aftermarket performance parts, a cold air intake will help unlock your truck’s full potential. Because of needing to keep manufacturing processes cost-effective and time-efficient, truck manufacturers don’t initially install systems in OEM trucks that will deliver maximum performance. This would boost the price and turn away customers that don’t really care about that stuff. 


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Installing a cold air intake system in your truck is one step in the right direction to unlocking that full engine potential. These are advanced versions of the basic intake system, as they are designed to bring in cooler air into your engine. Colder air has a higher oxygen density than hot air which means the combustion reaction that was mentioned earlier is more effective. 




cold air intake


This leads to the production of more engine power and greater mileage due to the boosted efficiency of the engine. The cold air is brought in with a tube that leads into an air filter which replaces having hot air from the usual stock airbox. Benefits of a cold air intake system include:

  • better engine sound
  • improved acceleration
  • uninterrupted airflow in the engine 
  • better horsepower
  • improved gas mileage 
  • better-performing air filter resulting in less maintenance



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Do Cold Air Intakes Actually Work?

Theoretically, a cold air intake will help improve your truck’s performance due to the benefits of bringing more efficiency to your engine. However, think of a cold air intake as one puzzle piece needed to complete your mission to maximizing your engine’s power. To get the best performance results, pair a cold air intake with an aftermarket exhaust system to achieve just that. 




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Keep in mind that depending on what you drive, the change in horsepower and fuel efficiency can change, there is no hard number that’s promised. Some manufacturers claim that a cold air intake can add as much as 5 to 20 horsepower. Like we just mentioned, a new exhaust system will jack those numbers higher. Another thing worth mentioning is that sometimes an air filter in this system can suck in water if it’s too exposed, and it’ll get into the engine. That, we don’t want. Adding a bypass valve can help prevent that from happening so you don’t damage your engine. 


cold air intake


What’s the Best Cold Air Intake?

There are numerous performance companies that produce good cold air intake systems, but our favorite is S&B Filters. They’ve been in business for over 30 years and live by their mission of “becoming a manufacturer of the most technically advanced high-performance filter on the market.”




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They specialize in diesel/gas trucks and SUVs. S&B Filters manufactures cold air intakes, filters, and other performance parts too. Their goal is to create intake systems that will reduce airflow restriction while still protecting your engine. They deliver high-quality products and competitive pricing due to their nearly 100% in-state production. 


cold air intake


They also put their focus toward beating stock and competitor air flow, protecting your engine from debris, and maximizing the time between servicing. On top of their rigorous testing, S&B offers a Million Mile Limited Warranty that guarantees they will replace any product that isn’t working properly or is defective, granted it’s used under typical driving conditions and on vehicles for which they were designed.




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Other cold air intake brands that are worth mentioning also include:




cold air intake


Should I Get a Cold Air Intake?

If your goal is to increase your truck’s performance, then yes. A cold air intake is arguably one of the best modifications to make on your journey to unlock your engine’s potential. Remember, it isn’t a one-and-done upgrade that will deliver a magical solution. Many people add cold air intakes to their builds because it’s pretty affordable and easy to install. For example, you can snag a cold air intake from S&B for as low as $329. So if you’re not looking to break the bank right out of the gate, this is a great starting point. 




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Also, if you want to break up the cost of your new intake into easy monthly payments, now you can when you finance your order through Affirm on our website. Plus, you could qualify for as low as 0% APR financing. To top it off, we’ll throw in free shipping too.









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