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How to Choose the Best Air Intake for Your Vehicle
What is a cold air intake?An air intake system typically combines a series of airflow tubes and an air filter that provide oxygen to your engine. That airflow is what powers the combustion process.
An aftermarket cold air intake kit can increase the volume of air flowing into your engine and keep that air cooler. Cool air is richer in oxygen, and that makes combustion more powerful and efficient. For you, that often equals an increase in horsepower and torque from your vehicle.
Why is cold air so important to engine performance?Your engine needs a mix of fuel and oxygen to generate power. The fuel injectors do exactly what their name suggests: they supply a precise amount of fuel to the engine. That fuel combines with the air delivered by your intake system. A spark plug ignites the volatile gas, and the small explosion that results forces a piston downward, turning the crankshaft. That piston-moving force is what produces horsepower.
Maintaining a healthy and precise air-to-fuel ratio is critical to engine performance. In fact, your engine requires almost fifteen times more air than fuel for efficient combustion. That’s why a cold air intake system can have such a powerful impact on the health and performance of your vehicle.
How does a cold air intake work?In a standard air intake system, air passes through a disposable paper filter and then flows into the engine through a complex system of tubing. The intake system that comes stock with your vehicle is often more restrictive to airflow than a high-quality specially designed aftermarket intake system, like the ones that K&N offers.
K&N® cold air intake systems provide a less restrictive path for airflow, increasing the volume of cool, oxygen-rich air into your engine. A performance air filter is paired with specially designed tubing and a custom air box or heat shield (engineered to protect the intake air from the heat of the engine), which in combination deliver a guaranteed increase in horsepower and torque.
Increased performance starts with K&N’s reusable High-Flow Air Filter™, which combines layers of pleated, breathable cotton with K&N’s signature red filter oil. Paper air filters, while efficient, can become quickly clogged as their pores fill with dirt and debris. K&N’s oiled cotton filter absorbs dirt and dust particles rather than physically blocking them. The tacky, oiled particles that collect in the filter become an asset to the filtration rather than an obstacle, capturing new particles entering the system while still allowing a high volume of airflow to pass through. This allows clean air to continue flowing into your engine - up to 50% more air than a traditional paper filter.
Unlike disposable paper filters, which typically last for 12-15,000 miles before they must be replaced, the high-performance K&N filter included with your intake can go up to 100,000 miles before needing to be cleaned (under normal driving conditions).
K&N pairs each high-performance filter with an aerodynamic, CAD-designed intake tube that is engineered to increase airflow. Though styles of intake systems vary in material and aesthetics, all K&N systems include either a steel heat shield or an enclosed air box that helps to protect the air filter and intake air from the high temperatures of the engine. The resulting oxygen-rich air that flows through the system powers efficient combustion and can help improve the long-term health of your engine.
Wide and free-flowing, K&N intake tubes can also improve the sound of your engine. Stock air intakes can slow airflow and muffle engine noise. K&N’s intake systems help remove restrictions to airflow, allowing your engine to breathe and sound as it should. Your engine will growl on acceleration and return to quiet once at speed.
How do I choose the best air intake system for my vehicle?All K&N cold air intakes are designed to provide a significant increase in performance relative to the stock system that comes with your vehicle. Your choice of system simply depends on the options available for your vehicle make, ease of maintenance, and the performance you’re looking to achieve.
Roto-molded high-density polyethylene (HDPE) intake systems are highly customizable, and offer a more stock appearance under the hood. K&N air intakes are also available with mandrel-bent aluminum or powder-coated aluminum tubing. In many cases and depending on the application, a variety of tubing finishes may be available.
The performance of your air intake system can depend on the kind of air filter included, and the heat shield or air box paired with the system. A standard K&N intake air filter can go up to 100,000 miles without needing cleaning or maintenance (under normal highway driving conditions). High-performance drivers may want an open filter element and heat shield for even greater airflow. Off-roaders may prefer an intake system with a custom air box, which helps protect against dust, dirt, and moisture and offers additional filter protection from extremely dirty environments or water crossings. Options with an enclosed air box give you the freedom to adventure while offering easy access to the air filter for quick cleaning and maintenance — no special tools required.
Which K&N® cold air intake kit should I choose?K&N offers several kinds of cold air intake systems to meet your needs. They vary by material and aesthetic, ease of maintenance, and filter type. All are protected by K&N’s famous 10-Year/Million Mile Limited Warranty.
Roto-Molded High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Intake Systems.High-density polyethylene (HDPE) rotationally molded tubes increase the volume of airflow to your engine while providing a more stock look under your hood. The intake tube is paired with a washable, reusable cotton High-Flow Air Filter™ that increases the flow of air into your engine by as much as 50%. Its oversized, conical design and high-efficiency, oiled-cotton filter media allow you to go up to 100,000 miles between filter services under normal highway driving conditions. Depending on the model, roto-molded intake systems come with a custom heat shield or HDPE air box to help protect the incoming air from the heat of your engine.
Mandrel-Bent Aluminum Intake SystemsIf you enjoy a more custom look under the hood, mandrel-bent and powder-coated aluminum intake tubes are a great choice. As with all K&N intake systems, these designs dramatically increase airflow to your engine and offer a guaranteed increase in horsepower and torque. The free-flowing, aluminum tubes are paired with a washable, reusable High-Flow Air Filter™ featuring an oiled-cotton filter. Your intake can go up to 100,000 miles between servicing under normal highway driving conditions.
Blackhawk Induction™ Air Intake SystemsThe Blackhawk system differs in two ways. Made from black, powder-coated aluminum, the intake tube is especially durable and brings a custom blacked-out look to your engine. It’s paired with all-black components - including a black, steel heat shield - for a sleek, custom look from end-to-end.
Unlike the roto-molded or aluminum systems, the Blackhawk comes with an oil-free DRYFLOW® synthetic filter. Like the High-Flow Air Filters™, the DRYFLOW™ filter protects against contaminants through multiple layers of filter material. The synthetic material provides slightly less airflow than the original oiled-cotton filter media, but is exceptionally easy to clean and maintain, with no need to re-oil the filter. The Blackhawk Induction™ air intake system strikes an ideal balance between airflow and efficiency, provides a high level of contaminant capture.