Do Cold Air Intakes Really Improve Gas Mileage?

January 1, 2022 12:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

An aftermarket cold air intake is an affordable and effective way to improve horsepower and torque from a stock engine. You get more horsepower and torque, giving you a better throttle response.

How a cold air intake affects fuel economy is a concern for potential buyers. When installed properly, the cold air intake should help maintain or improve fuel economy. That is because you do not have to give the engine as much gas to generate power. The cold air intake does that for you.

How a Cold Air Intake Works

A cold air intake increases the amount of airflow to the combustion chamber. Greater airflow means more oxygen to enable more efficient combustion. Most vehicles have auto-adjusting onboard computers that adjust fuel delivery via the fuel injection system. So you do not have to fiddle with adjusting a carburetor as many old-school hotrodders did in the past.

A cold air intake also can save money on air filter replacement. That is because you do not replace the cold air intake when it is dirty. Instead, you clean it and apply fresh filter oil that helps to filter out the dust and debris typically encountered by the air filter.

Easy Cold Air Intake Installation

Cold air intake installation is usually very easy and requires commonly owned hand tools. A wrench and Phillips screwdriver are usually all you need to remove the stock air filter and its housing. Then you might need to bolt on an aftermarket plenum that extends out from the combustion chamber to the cold air intake.

The intake bolts onto the end of the plenum and usually is exposed to the air instead of being enclosed in a plastic housing. The open-air position enables the cold air intake to take in more air. The hood, engine and other components should prevent water from getting to the air filter.

Adjusting the Air-Fuel Mixture

After installing the cold air intake, the air-fuel mixture needs to be adjusted. If your vehicle is a classic with a carburetor, you would need to adjust the carb to get the ideal mix. The onboard computer can take care of that with modern fuel injection systems.

Once everything is mounted in place, you start the vehicle and let the onboard ECU adjust fuel delivery while idling the vehicle. The ECU should recognize a greater amount of oxygen and reduce the fuel accordingly to maintain a stable level of combustion. That will help you get more power and a better throttle response, improving fuel economy.


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