Installing Cold Air Intake On Supercharger: Power, Sound & Cost

Installing a cold air intake on a supercharger is possible and it’s not that difficult. Just make sure you find the inlet and replace the stock air intake box with your cold air intake.

When installed, a cold air intake can give slightly more power (about 10-20 horsepower depending on your engine size and supercharger). 

A good quality K&N cold air intake costs about $200-$400 and is definitely worth it considering the gain in power and sound. 

I personally have installed different cold air intakes on my car and I always love the sound it produces. The sound of air rushing into your engine as you accelerate is extremely satisfying. 

In my opinion, the sound alone is enough to justify installing a cold air intake… That said, in this article I am going to go into details of cold air intake and supercharged engines.

We will discuss:

  1. Installation steps of cold air intake
  2. Tuning for cold air intake
  3. Finding the right cold air intake
  4. Short ram intake vs cold air intake
Cold air intake on supercharger

Cold air intake connected to a supercharger

How To Install Cold Air Intake On Supercharger

Installing cold air intake on supercharged cars is very similar to installing on any regular cars. It’s all about finding the inlet, removing the O2 sensor and installing it. 

Keep in mind though, depending on your car and engine bay setup, installing cold air intake can be difficult. If the space is tight, then you have to go around many components and lock the cold air intake in place.

Tools required to install cold air intake on supercharger:

  1. A set of screwdrivers costs around $40.
  2. A drilling machine that comes for $50 give or take.
  3. A universal spanner that comes for a price of about $20.
  4. Cable ties, a bunch of which cost something between $4 and $10.


Steps to install cold air intake on a supercharger:

  1. Park the car in an area that is spacious and well-lit. Turn off the engine and wait for it to get cooled.
  2. Plug out the car battery by first removing the black or unmarked terminal (negative) and then by removing the red one (positive).
  3. Identify the air intake and remove it. A large plastic filter box that is connected to the engine via a large plastic tube is the air intake system. Use the wrench and the screwdriver to remove the plastic mounts that connect all the inner parts of the system, the air filter, the filter box, and the plastic tube. 
  4. If there are air sensors, be extremely delicate while removing them. Keep the system in its entirety because in case the new CAI doesn’t work properly nor has manufacturing defects you may need to reinstall the old one again.
  5. While installing the new intake, follow the manufacturer’s step-by-step instructions. Use the hose clamps properly to make the system stay in its place. Install the air sensors that you removed and finish off with installing the new air filter. Follow the instructions properly and go underneath the vehicle if need be.
  6. Check for one last time to ensure that the mountings are tightened enough. See to it that the system doesn’t strike against other objects because that means the system has not been tightened enough.
  7. Plug-in the car battery by attaching the red terminal (positive) first followed by the black or unmarked one (negative). Now take a test drive.

Make sure your cold air intake is correctly purchased for your car model and manufacturing year. Incorrect cold air intake models can be very hard to install and frustrating. 

Here’s a YouTube video showing you how to install cold air intake on a supercharger. 


Benefits Of Installing Cold Air Intake On Supercharger

  1. Improved sound. Cold air intake is much more open and has a wider surface area. This helps to increase the sound of air intake and can be very satisfying. 
  2. Slightly more horsepower. I would expect an additional 10-20 horsepower when adding cold air intake on a supercharger. Cold air intake feeds your supercharger with more and colder air. This helps the supercharger to compress air with more oxygen content – which generates more horsepower.
  3. Engine bay looks great. Cold air intake usually has a bright colored filter – this makes your engine bay stand out when opened.

Related article: Does Cold Air Intake Make A Car Louder?

Do You Need Tune After Installing Cold Air Intake On Supercharger

Tuning the engine once the installation a cold air intake is not required. This is because the impact of incorporating a new cold air intake is minimal.

The air sensors along with the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) will tune the vehicle’s Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP) sensor automatically. 

However, if you want to couple the increase in horsepower with other factors like a more aggressive engine, a richer overall functioning, and a modified engine torque map then tuning is a great option. 

This is common knowledge among car buffs that manufacturers do limit vehicles from their true potential by prioritizing factors like better mileage, safety, and regulations.

 By tuning a car alone, one can gain about 20 horsepower. Each of the aftermarket parts like headers, exhausts, downpipes add another 30 or so horsepower. A vehicle with a turbo engine, for example, can gain a maximum of 50 horsepower when coupled with a downpipe that ensures more free flow and tuning. 

You can remove the rev limiter, the top speed limiter; readjust the air/fuel ratio to help your car actualize its true potential.

Removing the rev limiter entails higher revving and higher horsepower. On the downside, aggressive revving kills the engine fast, damages pistons, transmission, and reduces mileage. 

By tweaking the ECU, you can remove the top speed limiter to eliminate the speed limit. Updating the torque map is another good way of exerting car tuning. Without relying on any aftermarket part, you can manipulate the torque output at any rpm, high or low. 

Updating the torque map basically underscores improving the throttle response. Once you ensure more throttle at lower rpm by tuning, rest assured that your vehicle will function as an indomitable powerhouse. 

Another important resort for you can be changing the air/fuel ratio from the stock 14.7:1 equation. By readjusting this ratio, you can allow more fuel in the combustion, ensuring more power while reducing gas mileage. 

See to it that all of it is done correctly. However, be prepared to experience bad gas mileage and emissions results if you make the car run extra rich. 

An experienced tuner can turn off the Check Engine Light which is a must because the car’s computer, having failed to understand the change in behaviour, runs the alarm. 

Be mindful of the legalities involved in tuning a car. If slight changes have been made by a certified tuner, then you are in the safe zone. Making the car extra rich is a no-go as that entails high emissions and a violation of legalities.

Also, do restrain yourself from launching a tuning for as long as your car is new and is within warranty. 

Figure out the expenses too before you want to take this direction. A tuning sans aftermarket parts can cost something between $600 and $1400, based on the configurations you want. 

Dyno testings that are necessary for reading horsepower, torque, air/fuel ratio, and other such changes cost about $150 per spell with two to three sessions in the pipeline.   

Related articles:

Finding Cold Air Intake For Your Supercharger

Finding a cold air intake that perfectly fits your supercharger is an easy job if you keep in mind a few things. Know your car model and year of manufacturing right before proceeding to buy a cold air intake. 

This is crucial because otherwise the cold air intake you put your money on will be rendered absolutely useless. If the system doesn’t fit properly, it will take some extra sweat from you. 

That said, if you are not sure, then go for a bigger cold air intake. Bigger cold air intake can be adjusted using clamps. Whereas a smaller cold air intake may spell trouble. In the latter case, do consult a professional mechanic or refer the problem to the seller.

If the supercharger is aftermarket, do note its model variant before buying the cold air intake to go with it. By doing this you will get an idea of whether the system will fit the supercharger or not. 

Brands generally specify their cold air intakes according to their suitability, for cars and trucks, for RVs, for heavy-duty vehicles, or for power-sports.

Additionally, you can measure the stock inlet as that will keep you on the safer side of things relating to the size of the cold air intake.

clamping cold air intake

A slightly larger cold air intake can be locked in place using clamp.

Short Ram Intake Or Cold Air Intake For Supercharger

Compared to Cold Air Intake, Short Ram Intake is better only at high rpm but unfortunately cannot hold on to that performance as soon as the engine bay starts heating. 

Short Ram Intake increases induction sound as well and offers a lower risk of hydro-locking the engine. 

Cold Air Intake boosts performance in a holistic manner. At higher rpm, it surpasses Short Ram Intake. 

One downside is that because Cold Air Intake often requires that the filter is put close to the ground so it can draw in cold air, it runs a higher risk of hydro-locking the engine.


A Short Ram Intake reduces obstacles to intake air by bypassing the resonator and filter box. But Short Ram Intake still draws air from inside the engine bay which is a snag. 

A Cold Air Intake on the other hand draws air from outside the engine bay. This cool air is denser compared to hot air and carries more oxygen. So when put to the test, how does each of them perform?

When the vehicle is in second gear with the wide-open throttle, tests have underscored that the higher the rpm, the higher the Short Ram Intake improvement, amounting to 2.4 to 3.3 percent enhancement. 

In fact, a shift from 4000 rpm to 5000 rpm has rendered 4.64 percent enhancement on record. The cold air intake, on the other hand, comes up with a bit of an interesting result. 

When used below 3000 rpm, the enhancement runs at a minus value, lower even than Short Ram Intake. The performance suddenly takes a flight between 3000 rpm and 5000 rpm, surpassing that by a Short Ram Intake. But strangely, it takes a dip after the 5000 rpm mark as it runs in minus again.

Short ram intake

Short ram intake is short and works better on lower RPM.


So if you are looking for overall better performance, consider using a Cold Air Intake along with a supercharger. Cold air intake is suitable for both track and drag vehicles as they keep their engines running at high rpm. 

If you are tight on budget and want slightly better performance and nothing too fanciful, go for Short Ram Intake instead. Remember that since you have already installed a Supercharger, enhanced performance is already coming your way given that you do away with the stock intake.

A stock intake performs the best while at low rpm and is, therefore, suitable for average drivers. And since obstacles remain very much in their place, the stock intake offers the minimum of induction noise. 

Make your decision then and while doing that remember also that even though the test results mentioned above stand pretty much universal, every vehicle is different and can potentially change the outcomes. So do research a bit about the model you have, find an expert if you can, and off you go.

Last but not least, it is absolutely crucial that you weigh the pros and cons with earnestness before making such a steep investment. 

It is customary among people who have recently picked up the taste of car tuning to think that pushing the vehicle toward its actual potential is a one-way road. 

Well, as we have noted in the course of this article, there are plenty of trade-offs that one has to assent to. Moreover, such a project underlines that one tunes the vehicle in tandem with installing aftermarket parts, a Supercharger alone or say a cold air intake along with it won’t cut it.

Ifandi L.

Ifandi L.

Passionate about everything mechanical. Ifandi has been involved with motorcycles and cars since the old days - in his family's auto parts shop. Want to keep in touch? Scream "STRAIGHT PIPEEEEE" at the top of your lungs and Ifandi will show up.

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