Cold air intakes are one of the most popular car modifications to improve your engine’s overall performance. Most cold air intakes are relatively easy to install as the installation process only requires simple tools, while the process as a whole typically only takes an hour or so. As is standard for our review team, we took an unbiased approach to formulate our list of the best cold air intakes.

Cold air intakes are specific to the vehicle you drive, but RamChevy Silverado, GMC, and Toyota Tacoma drivers need not worry as the recommended cold air intakes below will work on your vehicle. The list above is not an exhaustive list as there are many different make and model cars and off-road vehicles that our recommended intake systems will fit on.

#1 Best Overall: Spectre Performance Air Intake Kit

The Spectre Performance Air Intake Kit is designed to increase horsepower and torque, as it is dyno-tested with up to 50 percent more airflow than factory box air filters and intake pipes. By improving throttle response, this cold air intake improves acceleration and uphill performance when towing. This cold air intake will also protect your engine from contaminants and debris.

According to the manufacturer, you won’t have to worry about cleaning your filter for up to 100,000 miles. To further protect your engine from contaminants, this cold air intake filter features an advanced oiled synthetic filter. A black powder-coated heat shield helps prevent warm air from the engine bay from entering the intake inlet.

Our Rating: 4.9 out of 5

Key Features

  • Advanced oiled synthetic filter
  • Up to 50 percent more airflow than factory parts
  • Improved uphill performance when towing

What Customers Are Saying

Over 550 customers have left reviews on Amazon for the Spectre Performance Air Intake Kit. The majority of customers left positive feedback, which is backed by the fact that 73 percent of reviewers rate this cold air intake 4 stars or higher.

#2 Best Roto-Molded Cold Air Intake: K&N Cold Air Intake Kit

The K&N Cold Air Intake Kit improves your vehicle’s engine sound and acceleration, as well as uphill performance when towing. The manufacturer claims that you won’t need to clean your filter for up to 100,000.0 miles in the product description and all K&N air filters are washable and reusable. It should be noted that this product comes with a 10-year/1,000,000-mile limited warranty.

The high-flow air filter that’s featured on this cold air intake increases horsepower, provides outstanding filtration, and is made from K&N’s non-oiled Dryflow Synthetic media. It’s an easy installation to replace your factory air box and installing this cold air intake is something that your average automotive enthusiast would be able to accomplish in an hour or less with simple hand tools. The mandrel-bent aluminum intake tube featured on this cold air intake offers 50 percent more airflow than OEM intake systems.

Our Rating: 4.8 out of 5

Key Features

  • Air filter made from K&N’s non-oiled Dryflow Synthetic media
  • Offers 50 percent more airflow than OEM systems
  • Improves engine sound

What Customers Are Saying

The K&N Cold Air Intake Kit has nearly 500 customer reviews on Amazon. Only 3 percent of reviewers left a 1-star review, but 85 percent of reviewers rate this cold air intake a perfect 5 out of 5 stars. Most customers had little to no qualms with this product as 92 percent of reviewers rate this product 4 or more stars.

#3 Best Warranty: Injen Technology SP1121P Polished Intake System

The Injen Technology SP1121P Polished Intake System is backed by Injen Technology’s limited lifetime warranty. This cold air intake is constructed from aerospace-quality aluminum to improve corrosion resistance and save weight. Overall, this cold air intake is designed for the greatest horsepower and torque improvements possible.

The cold air intake features Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welded hardware and adaptors while the majority of the intake system is made from aluminum. Filter elements are constructed from surgical cotton gauze, which is precisely oiled to maintain consistent colder airflow and prevent obstructions to the intake system. The cold air intake also features Injen’s patented MegaRam (MR) technology and Air Fusion technology.

Our Rating: 4.6 out of 5

Key Features

  • TIG-welded hardware and adaptors
  • Constructed from aerospace-quality aluminum
  • Features Injen’s patented MR and Air Fusion technology

What Customers Are Saying

With fewer than 50 customer reviews on Amazon, it’s hard to judge what the customer reception is overall. Almost 60 percent of reviewers rate this cold air intake system a faultless 5 out of 5 stars, while not a single customer is yet to leave a 1-star review. Over 75 percent of reviewers rate this product 4 stars or higher, although this data should be taken with a grain of salt due to the small sample size.

#4 AF Dynamic Black Air Intake Filter System

Using solely top-quality stainless steel button head bolts, washers, locknuts, and band clamps, the AF Dynamic Black Air Intake Filter System doesn’t settle for low-quality materials during the construction process. This kit comes complete with a high-flow air filter and an aluminum heat shield with an insulation mat. The reflective insulation mat material when added to the heat shield will further reduce intake temperatures and heat soak from the engine compartment.

The cold air intake works with OEM computer systems to help the engine more efficiently draw in cooler air, which in turn results in better throttle response, consistently higher horsepower output, improved fuel economy, and all-around better engine performance. This intake system comes with everything needed for installation. It should be noted that no cutting, drilling, or fabrication is required during the installation process.

Our Rating: 4.4 out of 5

Key Features

  • Works with OEM computer systems
  • Improves fuel economy
  • Features reflective insulation mat and heat shield

What Customers Are Saying

At the time of publishing, there are only 10 customer reviews on Amazon for the AF Dynamic Black Air Intake Filter System. While no conclusions should be drawn from such a small amount of reviews, every rating is 4 or more stars.

#5 Ares Motorsports Cold Air Intake System

The Ares Motorsports Cold Air Intake System works with OEM computer systems to help your engine draw in cool air resulting in improved throttle response and more explosive horsepower output. The heat shield kit featured on this cold air intake system improves filtration efficiency up to 95 percent, improves torque by 6 to 8 percent, and adds 5.0 to 10.0 horsepower.

This cold air intake system is easy to install with basic tools, and no additional parts are necessary for installation that aren’t already included in the box. Only high-quality silicone couplers, elbows, and hoses were used in the manufacturing process rather than cheap rubber.  The high-flow air filter featured in this cold air intake system is both washable and reusable. It should be noted that a professional installation is highly recommended by the manufacturer.

Our Rating: 4.3 out of 5

Key Features

  • Easy to install with basic tools
  • Improves torque by 6 to 8 percent
  • Improves filtration efficiency up to 95 percent

What Customers Are Saying

The Ares Motorsports Cold Air Intake System has only around 20 customer reviews on Amazon. Again, due to the small sample size, no conclusions about overall customer satisfaction should be drawn from these scores, but around 85 percent of all reviews are 4 stars or higher.

Cold Air Intakes Buyers Guide

Cold air intakes are one of the most popular car modifications around, and for good reason. Cold air intakes offer a range of benefits, but unfortunately, they’re not universally street legal. Knowing whether you’re safe to install a cold air intake is imperative, while knowledge of the different types of air intake systems could be useful when making a purchasing decision.

Legality Concerns

Cold air intakes are not street legal in every state. Cold air intakes are illegal for sale or street use in any state that has adopted California Emissions Standards under Section 177 of the Federal Clean Air Act of 1970. For an intake system to be legal on a specific vehicle, the part must be granted a California Air Resources Board Executive Order (CARB EO) number.

CARB EO numbers only make a part legal on a specific vehicle make and model for a specific year (or years). To satisfy smog inspection requirements, the CARB EO number must be displayed in the engine bay of your vehicle. The following states below have outlawed cold air intakes:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia (D.C.)
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Types of Air Intake Systems

There are three main types of air intake systems: cold air intake systems, short ram air intakes, and ram air intakes. Each type of air intake system has its own benefits and drawbacks, but it’s easy to get the three mixed up in your head.

  • Cold air intakes: This type of air intake features a longer tube than its counterparts with an air filter positioned on the front end. Due to the filter being mounted further from the engine block itself, it is able to draw cooler air and therefore produce more power.
  • Short ram air intakes: This type of air intake features shorter air tubes than the other types of air intake systems. As the filter is close to the engine, it won’t draw in as cool of air as cold air intakes. However, this type of air intake has the advantage of fitting in tighter spaces.
  • Ram air intakes: This type of air intake collects air from high-pressure areas at the front of the vehicle. Unlike cold air intakes, the air filter is positioned at the back of the engine rather than at the front of the tube.

Our Review Standards

To select the five cold air intakes in this review, our team searched Amazon and Advance Auto Parts for top products, looking at factors like customer ratings, price, superlatives, and Prime shipping eligibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

*Data accurate at time of publication.