There are a variety of options when it comes to adding a cold air intake or making modifications to the intake system of any vehicle. If you’re considering changing the stock setup, it’s probably for one of two reasons. Either you’re looking for a more aggressive intake sound or you just want to go faster. Most people fall into one (or both) of these categories, although there is a small minority of car owners who choose to alter their intake setup to increase the efficiency (fuel mileage) of their vehicle. There are 3 basic options for modifying the intake setup of virtually any modern car: a drop-in filter, a short ram intake and a cold air intake. Each has its own specific advantages and disadvantages.
Drop in design filters increase the intake system’s performance simply by reducing restriction caused by the stock filter element. It’s a very basic modification: you simply replace your stock filter with the upgraded one and that’s it. A drop in filter will result in a noticeable increase over stock performance and even fuel mileage. They also have an increased service life over stock filters. The biggest advantage of choosing a drop in filter is the ease of installation. It won’t require any modification of stock equipment which helps keep warranties and engine equipment intact.
The next step up in the intake food chain is a short ram intake. A short ram intake consists of a short pipe that attaches to the throttle body accompanied by a high-flow cone style filter. This type of setup will result in much greater flow potential in comparison to stock equipment. By removing all the restrictions of the intake piping, more air is allowed to enter the engine which means more power. Also, cone filters have a much greater surface area than stock panel type filters which means better flow. For drivers who are looking for that aggressive intake sound, a short ram intake is going to be the biggest (and loudest) payoff. Since the intake tract is shortened so drastically, more sound is allowed to escape. This type of setup also offers relative ease of installation, although the entire stock intake system will have to be removed.
A true cold air intake is the final step on the ladder. A true cold air intake moves the filter element completely out of the engine compartment to a location away from the heat generated by the motor. This allows the engine to draw in colder, denser air to create more power. Cold air intakes should also have better flow rates than stock systems. They offer the greatest performance increase over stock systems as well a noticeable difference when it comes to aggressive intake sound. However they are much more complex to install and may require some amount of modification of the stock equipment. The best way to ensure ease of installation is to select a kit that is tailor-made for your specific vehicle. It’s also a good idea to check and see how this type of mod is going to affect your warranty and emissions status.