Obviously the horsepower gain is what you want to look for. But I mentioned there are a lot of factors to consider when buying a CAI. So what are they?
Ease of installation
Choose a cold air intake that uses the factory holes so you don’t need any drilling or cutting when installing. Read up the reviews on the intake – people usually mention how long it took for them to install.
Also checkout if the product comes with an installation guide. This will be your best friend or enemy when installing.
The K&N cold air intake I suggested uses factory holes – which makes them easy to install.
Most people in the customer reviews took 1 hour to install their intake – not bad! Here’s the guide to installing a K&N cold air intake. (Just for you to gauge how easy or difficult it could be to install)
CAI that has an Executive Order (EO) number is street legal in all 50 US states. States like California are very strict on emissions. If you are driving in any of these ‘strict’ states, then ensure your CAI is legal there by having an EO number.
Here’s an example of OE number. K&N cold air intake is street legal in all 50 states – so you don’t have to worry about the law.
This is just my opinion, but actual customer reviews are the biggest buying factor for me. When choosing a cold air intake, ensure the product has good customer reviews / ratings. I suggest to only trust the customer rating if it has more than 500 ratings – anything less and it could be faked.
The K&N cold air intake I recommended has 4.5 rating from 5200 reviews. Not bad at all.
A cold air intake is expected to improve your engine sound. In fact, this was the biggest factor for me when purchasing one. Yes, the main focus could be horsepower gain.
But really, how much additional horsepower can a cold air intake provide? 15 if you are lucky (anything more is questionable). Aside from the horsepower, the sound improvement is the most significant and exciting change you will notice.
Before purchasing, try to go on YouTube and listen to the before and after sound.
A K&N cold air intake definitely provided that sound improvement. Check out the customer reviews – I am sure you can easily find reviews about the great sound improvement. Here’s a video showing you the sound improvement from CAI I am talking about. Listen at 3:59
Cold air intake usually comes with a metal tube or plastic tube. Plastic tubing is generally better because they don’t absorb much heat – allowing them to keep the air cold.
Plastic tubing should also be less restrictive because they can be molded into precise shape for better air path. This is compared to metal tubing which can only be bent and welded for so much.
K&N cold air intake comes up with plastic tubing or a metal tubing. Just make sure you select the one with plastic.
As I said, a cold air intake will not give you dramatic horsepower gain. But it’s good to compare how much gain you can expect from different brands. I recommend you to look at the actual dyno results for these cold air intakes – not just what’s claimed.
You could find plenty of dyno results from different cold air intake brands on YouTube.
K&N cold air intake does provide the horsepower gain but it’s not so much – about 10-20 horsepower at most. If you are serious about horsepower, you need to look into something more like turbochargers.