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Bolt-on FAQ’s: Cold Air Intake

Bolt-On Series: Cold Air Intakes

How do they work?  Are they worth it?

By Josh H.
cai1We’re starting off a new blog series about bolt-on performance parts.  These quick write-ups are intended to give new ‘Stang Bangers an insight into the world of aftermarket parts that has blown up around the Mustang community over the last 30 years.  This is what the Mustang is all about.  It gives us the opportunity to buy a relatively cheap sports car that is easy to work on, and choose from a wide variety of parts and manufacturers to customize our rides to our liking.
For our first write-up, we’re going to take a look at cold air intakes.  Often one of the first mods done to a new Mustang, they are one of the most affordable and easy to install parts on your to-do list.  When it comes to buying your first cold air intake kit, there are a lot of manufacturers out there to choose from, so make sure you do your homework.  For a little help in deciding, be sure to check out the major Mustang aftermarket retailer websites who often do installation articles and performance tests on the various kits.

What are the benefits?

The whole purpose of a cold air intake rests in the name.  We want to get colder air into the intake, more easily.  Colder air contains more oxygen; more oxygen means a stronger explosion inside the combustion chamber of your motor, which means more power to the wheels.  You will also likely see a slight improvement in fuel efficiency.  Stock Mustangs have historically come equipped with pretty sub-par, restrictive intake systems designed to abide by industry standards such as noise levels and that sort of thing.  Cold air intake systems are designed with less bending, larger tubing, and often have the filter routed to a location in the front fender to scoop up colder air from the wheel well.

Possible Downfalls?

Something to keep in mind is that most modifications, yes, even bolt-on’s will void any manufacturer’s warranty.  So, if you just picked up a relatively new ‘Stang, this is something you might want to check on.  I’d sure hate to take my new Mustang in for a covered repair only to find that I’ll have to pay out of pocket because of a part that can be removed with a few bolts!
Something else to keep in mind is that even though we have all of these choices (which is a great thing), if you’re making the decision to upgrade your ‘Stang…then make sure you UPGRADE it.  In other words, don’t go for the “universal” kit on Ebay that supposedly fits “MUSTANG, CAMARO, EVO, WRX, ECLIPSE”.  These parts are likely cheap, poorly manufactured parts that will not result in improved performance!  Instead, opt for proven brands such as JLT, BBK, Ford Racing, and K&N, among others.

The Bottom Line

A quality cold air intake kit is a must if you’re starting down the highly addictive path of upgrading your Mustang.  Installation is simple and can be completed in an hour or less!  Different brands and kits tout a wide range of proven performance gains, usually between 15 and 40 horsepower.  In the end, a quality cold air kit will improve performance and efficiency…no questions asked.  Even more, as you continue to upgrade your ride, the gains from the cold air kit will be even greater.  Just think of the gains you will see with a bigger intake plenum and catback exhaust coupled with the cold air kit!  The better your airflow, the more ponies for your pony!