Heat wrapping and heat shielding air intake can gain you minor horsepower – about 5-10 horsepower, depending on how hot the engine bay is.
Both heat wrapping and shielding keep heat away from the intake – resulting in even cooler air to the combustion chamber and more power.
As a person who has tried these and researched quite extensively on them, I would say heat wrapping and shielding are definitely worth a try. They are inexpensive and do not take long to install at all.
In this article I will go in detail about heat shielding vs heat wrapping your intake – especially interesting things like performance, costs, how tos and my take on it.
Ready? Let’s begin with horsepower.
Heat shielding intake is generally better. It provides more cooling and more horsepower boost. If you have to choose one, go for heat shielding first.
Attempt heat wrapping only if you want to go above and beyond. More info about each of them coming up.
In this article, I assume you understand how combustion works and why cooler air means more power. If you don’t, read this article first. I covered the basics here. Do Cold Air Intake Add Horsepower?
For a TLDR, cooler air is more dense – which means it contains more oxygen particles that can be used to generate bigger combustion. Thus, more power.
Cooler air actually has a bigger impact on performance when we consider that a car’s computer automatically reduces ignition timing if air is too hot and risks premature detonation.
Which means, cooler air prevents the car’s computer from reducing ignition timing – further improving performance.
Heat wrapping and heat shielding air intake work by keeping heat away – which should result in a cooler intake for air to pass through.
Let’s focus on each of them now.
Heat Wrapping Intake: Horsepower Gain
Heat wrapping intake alone can yield you a minor horsepower gain of about 1-2% – that’s about 5 horsepower for the standard street engines.
This works because we wrap the air intake using a heat reflective tape called the DEI heat reflective tape (gold colored).
This tape insulates the intake tubing and keeps heat away from it – which means air that’s sucked in will flow in a cooler environment when they enter the throttle and into the combustion chamber.
The hotter your engine bay is, the more horsepower you could potentially gain. This works really well on an engine bay that’s tight and hot.
From my past experience, the DEI reflective tape reduced the temperature of my intake tubing by 20-30 degrees Fahrenheit (quite a significant amount).
The temperature was taken shortly after I stopped the car and opened the hood. I suspect the temperature reduction is even more when I am revving and driving on the road.
Heat Shielding Intake: Horsepower Gain
Heat shielding an air intake is very popular and works even better than heat wrapping.
Heat shielding can provide you with 2-4% or 10 horsepower gain – depending on how hot the weather and engine is.
Heat shielding works really well because they stop the hot air radiating from the engine to reach your air intake.
Heat shields keep the whole area significantly cooler. This means, not only will your intake be cooler, but the air surrounding it will also be cooler. This is why heat shielding works better than heat wrapping.
Heat shields are usually used with aftermarket air filters that are open and exposed – this is very common with cold air intake.
Stock air filters that are enclosed within an airbox don’t require heat shielding – they are already protected by the stock airbox.
From my previous experience, heat shielding significantly cools down my air intake by about 50 – 60 degree fahrenheit. That’s extremely significant – especially for a heat shield that’s quite cheap.
How To Heat Wrap Air Intake (Cost: $30)
Things you need to wrap air intake:
- DEI Gold Reflective Tape ($30 / roll)
- Wet cloth
Here’s the heat tape I personally used from Amazon.
Steps to heat wrap air intake:
- Uninstall the existing intake from your car
- Clean and wipe air intake tubing with wet cloth
- Use scissors to cut the DEI reflective tape and wrap around intake
- Reinstall wrapped intake into your car
As you can see, all you need is a DEI Reflective tape. Unless you don’t have scissors, wrench or wet cloth…
Installation is straightforward as long as you know how to remove and reinstall a cold air intake.
How To Heat Shield Air Intake (Cost: $19)
Things you need to heat shield your air intake:
- Heat shield ($25 from Amazon)
Just make sure you get heat shield of the right size. You don’t need heat shield for your specific intake or car model.
Just ensure the size is somewhat matching. The filter from a cold air intake is generally 3” wide.
Here’s the heat shield that I have personally used from Amazon.
Simple steps to heat wrap air intake:
- Assemble heat shield hooks using screwdrivers
- Use wrench to unclamp your existing intake from its tube
- Hook the heat shield around the intake filter
- Put the clamp back into place
Here’s a YouTube video showing you exactly how to do it. It’s quite simple.
Should You Heat Wrap Or Heat Shield Intake?
If you have an aftermarket cold air intake or exposed pod filters, then I highly recommend installing the heat shield.
It really does help with reducing temperature and provide you with a little boost in horsepower.
Heat wrapping is up to you. You could go above and beyond to both heat wrap and heat shield your intake. They don’t cost a lot, so they are definitely worth it.
From my experience, heat shielding alone is enough. Heat wrapping does not really add significant horsepower where you can feel it.
Another thing you could look into is rerouting your intake. Instead of having it at the top of the engine bay where it’s hot, try to reroute it lower (nearer to the wheels) – where it’s cooler.
This way, you won’t even need heat shields or wraps because the heat radiation won’t reach your intake and there is plenty of cool air near the wheels.
The downsides to these are of course, hydrolocking. With your intake located lower like this, water from a small puddle could get wet your air filter or worse, enter the engine.
In the end, heat shielding is still the best approach huh? I leave that to you to think.
Using Exhaust / Header Wrap On Air Intake
You should not use exhaust or header wrap on your air intake because they are designed to retain heat – rather than to reflect them.
Using exhaust wrap on air intake will cause intake air to be hotter where you lose horsepower.
With air intake, we want to get rid of as much heat as possible because cooler air is more dense and contains more oxygen.
In the entirely opposite way, exhaust or header wraps are used to keep as much heat as possible because hot air is less dense and travels faster.
This means exhaust gases will escape quicker – providing more room for oxygen to enter and create a bigger combustion for more power.
So if you hear anyone telling you to use exhaust wrap on your intake, don’t do it. That’s a bad idea for performance.
In conclusion, heat wrapping or heat shielding an intake is definitely worth a try. They are inexpensive, easy to install and can provide significant cooling and some boost in horsepower.
The horsepower gain is not so much but definitely good enough for something this cheap.
If you have to choose one, go with heat shielding – they provide more significant cooling and provide more horsepower. Heat shielding and intake is very popular – it’s easily accessible.
Some cold air intake even comes with heat shielding from the factory. So what do you say? Give it a try and let me know how it works out for you!