Does Cold Air Intake Increase MPG? [Is It Better Than Stock]

It is common that we tend to change a few stock things in a car to make it better. One such thing is swapping out the stock air filter for a cold air intake. However, does it make the car better and how does it affect MPG?

Many people who have changed to a cold air intake experience better fuel efficiency and power too.

This is because the cold air intake will feed the engine with colder and denser air from the outside making the engine perform better since the cold air has more oxygen.

What is the Use of a Cold Air Intake?

A cold air intake is a common upgrade that people do to their vehicles. The aim of a cold air intake is to increase overall engine efficiency and power production. That is why people use it for experiencing better MPG.

The reason the engine would now work better with a cold air intake is that it provides the engine with denser cold air.

The cooler air contains more oxygen compared to the warm or hot air inside the engine compartment. The result is that now you have increased power while at the same time saving on fuel too.

A cold air intake simply replaces the standard airbox with a plastic or metal tube connecting to the usual air filter.

It also has heat shields that protect the filter from the surrounding heat from the engine. This means that the air getting into the engine is now cooler thanks to this design.

How Much MPG Will a Cold Air Intake Deliver?

Anyone looking to add a cold air intake would want to know just how good it is as a way of improving fuel efficiency.

We find that the cold air intake can increase the fuel economy by 3 to 5 MPG. This only happens when you can have it correctly installed so that it delivers more cold air than what the original intake does.

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We also recommend replacing the stock intake with a stronger cold air intake as weak and cheap performance intakes will not be as good as the stock option.

So, buy the top brand cold air intakes such as K&N, Ares, Spectre Performance, AF Dynamic, and more.

How Much Power Can You Get with a Cold Air Intake?

Other than improving your MPG, the cold air intake is also important for adding power to your vehicle. Most car owners expect to get an increase of 5 to 15 horsepower when they change to an aftermarket cold air intake.

However, the amount of power can be higher or lower depending on the type of intake, engine size, make, and model of the car.

The change in power can also be affected by many things including where the cold air intake is located. You are advised to keep it away from engine components that easily get hot after only a few miles.

It is why cold air intakes would be installed close to a fender well so that it sends cooler air to the engine.

You also note that a cold air intake tube is wider. This allows for more air to get into their system. The last thing you need is restricted airflow.

Cold Air Intake Benefits Over a Using Stock Air Filter

Does Cold Air Intake Increase MPG

Cold air intake can have several benefits when you have it installed properly. Other than potentially improving your MPG, the other benefits of a cold air intake over a stock air filter include;

Increasing horsepower

Believe it or not, a cold air intake can be beneficial for those who also want to experience more horsepower.

Of course, an increase in horsepower due to a cold air intake is not very much, but it can be substantial. We estimate that you can get an average of 5 to 20 horsepower depending on the vehicle and engine size.

Increased acceleration

When the engine is now operating optimally, you can expect better responsiveness from the engine. That is why people claim that they experience increased acceleration when they decided to add a cold air intake.

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This is because you get the engine is now getting denser air being directed to the engine. Of course, once you put down the accelerator is when you can experience how well the acceleration has improved.

Improved air filters

Another reason a person can consider using the cold air intake is that they will now have improved air filters. Of course, the stock air filters are not bad, but they will easily get clogged and need frequent changing. On average, it is 15,000 miles.

However, the aftermarket cold intake filters can be reusable. All you have to do is remove and clean them before inserting them back into the car. They can last for a long, but you need to clean them every 25,000 miles.

Better sound

This is something some people might like because the car now has a deeper sound. In case you like having a roaring engine, then this could be a nice alternative to spending so much more on a new exhaust system.

If you compare the same with a stock air filter, you can easily tell the stock air filter would be quieter.

Cold Air Intake and Potential Engine Damage

We have already seen the potential benefits of having a cold air intake installed on your car. However, will it potentially lead to engine damage?

Cold air intakes are simple and safe upgrades, however, sometimes installation can go wrong making the engine have problems running.

That is why you might have some engines having a rough idle when a cold air intake is freshly installed.

So, the only thing that would make an engine go bad after a cold air installation is how it is installed. That is why you need a mechanic to install it for you if you have no idea where to start.

This video talks more about what can also lead to rough idling in a car.

YouTube video

Common Issues After Installing Cold Air Intakes

Sometimes you might find that after installing the cold air intake, the car is not performing as you had expected. Some of the issues associated with installing a cold air intake include:

Surging idle

It is common that sometimes you may experience a surging idle, however, when it is noticeable just after installing a cold air intake, then you would know that the new intake is the culprit.

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It could be that the hoses are loose or broken. Check them to ensure there is no leak that can make the car start idling high.

A check engine appears

Does the check engine light appear after you change the cold air intake?

No one wants to deal with a check engine. However, it can mean there is a problem with the new cold air intake.

Make sure there is no vacuum leak or faulty sensor or else you might be there for a while. You could also have the car diagnosed using a diagnostic tool to understand what is causing the check engine light.

Experiencing reduced engine performance

When you add a cold air intake, you are hoping to improve the engine performance and vice versa.

However, sometimes you can notice that the car is not accelerating as fast as it used to be. Then it could be the cold air intake is clogged or dirty.

Yes, a dirty filter can make it very hard for a vehicle to start.

The key to ensuring that the car keeps running well even with a cold air intake is to keep it clean.

The best is to clean the cold air intake every 30,000 miles. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure it is properly cleaned.

Here is a video explaining why you should or should not buy a cold air intake

YouTube video

Cold Air Intake Compared to Other Upgrades

You have already seen the benefits of adding a cold air intake to potentially increase MPG, but how does the upgrade compare to the other types of upgrades? Let us see below.

Horsepower gain

It is possible for you to have an increase in horsepower by using a cold air intake. However, it is not as significant as compared to other mods in the market.

The most common horsepower gain mod will be to choose using headers. The headers can help with improving the horsepower by over 20 horsepower.

In case you now want more horsepower, you should then consider upgrading the cold air intake together with the headers and exhausts.

Sound gain

Anyone who has installed a cold air intake would love the sound gain that comes with the change.

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Considering a cold air intake is cheaper than a change in exhausts, this means that you can save more while having a change in the sound.

Once you have installed a cold air intake, you will notice that the car’s sound is more aggressive and exotic. You would definitely enjoy the change in the sound if you love louder vehicles.

Well, a cold air intake would not be too loud compared to changing the whole exhaust.


The cold air intake is also cheaper compared to other mods you would get in the market for increasing the MPG. This largely depends on the car model, quality, and brand of cold air intake.

The price of a cold air intake can start from $70 to $500.

Of course, the more you spend, the higher your chances of you getting high-quality and performance of more smiles per gallon.

When you compare it to exhaust systems, you can expect to find the best quality starting from $700. It depends on the car model and brand.


Installing cold air intake for increasing MPG is quite simple. You would not need to be an expert for you to install the cold air intake and have it running smoothly.

Even if you need to get an expert to install it, the most you can spend is around $50.

The same cannot be said for those who want to install exhausts or headers. The headers and exhausts need more expertise which might not be what you have. This means you may have to spend more to get the mods on the car.


In case the car is still new and under warranty, we do not advise you to add a cold air intake because it can void the warranty.

The same applies to the other mods that you may want to add to the car. The good thing is that not the whole car would be voided, rather only some parts.

An example is if you install a cold air intake, then you may have voided the warranty on the stock intake, air box, and oxygen sensors.

Conclusion: Is it Worth Getting a Cold Air Intake?

The cold air intake is a nice addition to have on your car because how it may help with increasing MPG, horsepower, acceleration, sound, and so much more.

We recommend that you always use products from a top brand to avoid making the engine worse. Yes, if the product is poor quality and not installed correctly, then you can expect poor performance.

Our review team explores the 5 best cold air intakes on the market, you can learn more by visit their websites:

In case you find it worth installing on your car, go ahead and buy a performance cold air intake. You will quickly notice the improvement in performance.


Will the Cold Air Intake Make the Car Louder?

Yes. It might not be as loud as having a new exhaust system, but it is a deeper sound compared to a stock intake.

Does Cold Air Intake Increase Speed?

Some people claim to experience improved acceleration. This is where the throttle response is better.

Can add a cold air intake void warranty?

It depends on the manufacturer. Some claim that when you change the cold air intake and damage happens, that is when you void the warranty. So, confirm with your dealer first.

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