Does a Cold Air Intake Make Your Car Louder?

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There are several reasons to want a car with better and more aggressive performance. To get the optimum performance out of your vehicle, you really don’t need a sports car or wish to drive it to the race track, nor do you require the skills of a mechanic.

Installing cold air intake is one of the many modifications to improve your car engine performance. It also improves how your car sounds by giving it a more aggressive and growling sound. Colder air is dense than hot air; thus, if you want to enjoy your daily commute more or boost engine power while driving for pleasure, you should consider cold air intake.

Because engines burn colder and denser air more efficiently, adding cold air to your engine boosts engine power.

But does a cold air intake make your car louder? After installing a cold air intake, you will notice a significant difference in sound during ignition and when accelerating. But while cold air intake slightly alters your car’s sound, it is nothing compared to what exhaust mods can do.

What is Cold Air Intake?

A cold air intake is an aftermarket system of parts designed to introduce somewhat colder air into the internal combustion engine of a vehicle.

The air filter is repositioned to the engine’s exterior by installing a cold air intake so that cool air may be drawn into the motor for combustion. This cooler air contains a higher oxygen concentration, providing efficient combustion and greater power for your car. Cold air intake improves air circulation and reduces hot air buildup in the engine area.

There are further perks. A cold air intake eliminates the need for a box to house the air filter and replaces it with more streamlined intake tubes. This enables for continuous airflow throughout the engine.

Does a cold air intake improve your vehicle’s performance?

Indeed, however, how your engine’s performance increases may differ. Enhanced horsepower and fuel economy are possible but not guaranteed; it relies on the vehicle, the aftermarket accessory, and your driving style.

There are three essential parts used in car air intake systems. Let’s break them down so you may better comprehend how this vital system functions when you start your car and press the pedal.

Air filter

An air filter is a vital part that filters air from the outside. This critical part is often encased in a plastic or metal box, and the air filter includes a specialized filtering screen. Typically, the air filter is located before the throttle valve or intake manifold assembly.

To locate your vehicle’s air filter, open the hood and seek an enclosure molded like a box. Typically, this is located near the throttle valve assembly. This air filter closely resembles the filters often found in homes and appliances.

The primary function of an air filter is to remove dirt, trash, and other potentially damaging particles. Without these filters, airborne particles can enter the intake unit of your car, clog it, and possibly cause engine damage.

Moreover, the cleaner and fresher the entering air, the more efficiently your vehicle will operate. A spotless air filter can result in more horsepower, enhanced fuel efficiency, and an overall improvement to the performance of the car.

Mass Flow Sensor

Whereas an air filter is essential for the effective operation of an intake system, it is also critical to regulate the quantity of air that reaches the engine. If there is too much or too little air, this might lead to problems.

There must be a harmonious balance between air, gasoline, and combustion. Without this balanced ratio, your vehicle may be unable to generate the necessary power for driving.

There are now two types of mass flow sensors utilized in modern engines:

  1. Vane meters
  2. Hot wires

Vane meters function by sensing the motion of system flaps. Air entering the chamber from the air filter tube pulls these flaps back as additional air reaches the chamber. This flap movement is measured by the vane meter to calculate the volume of air entering the engine at one moment.

The hot wires method employs two distinct sensor wires: one heated and one unheated. As the throttle is depressed, more air flows through the system, cooling the hot wire. As the temperatures of the two wires fluctuate, the mass flow (MAF) sensor automatically increases or reduces the electricity to the heated wire till the temperatures of the two wires are the same.

The sensor then converts the recorded current into a frequency or voltage that the electronic computer control unit interprets as airflow. The air circulation is then adjusted accordingly.

Throttle Body

Finally, the throttle body of the intake system regulates the airflow through the previously described sensor. A throttle body is a component with a hollow or perforated housing that holds a spinning throttle plate on a shaft.

As the accelerator pedal is depressed, the engine’s throttle plate opens, allowing air to enter the engine. When the accelerator pedal is released, the throttle plate shuts, preventing air from entering the combustion chamber and halting the chain reaction. In this manner, the throttle body regulates the combustion rate in the engine and, ultimately, the speed of your car.

Types of Cold Air Intake Systems

One of the most common designs for cold air intakes is the short ram air intake. Small ram intakes use a short pipe to draw cooler air from the environment. They are also more affordable, making them a popular choice among customers on a budget. Short-ram cold air intake systems are less efficient than other cold air systems but still provide some power and performance gains.

Long ram intakes use a longer pipe to draw colder air from the atmosphere. In general, long ram intakes are more efficient than short ram air intakes but are costly. They are well-known due to their efficiency.

an image showing cold air intake system installed on a mazda car

What Do Air Intake Systems Do?

Air intake systems send cooler air into the engine’s intake valve, which is then combined with gasoline from the gas tank.

The air/fuel combination is ignited and transferred to the car’s engine cylinders to generate the explosive reaction converted into physical energy, finally driving the wheels thanks to the gearbox. Without air intake mechanisms, cars would be incapable of sustaining an internal combustion process. Any motion generated would be random and useless.

Why Are Cold Air Intakes So Loud?

The truth is any open-air filter will have a loud suction sound. This is why standard air intakes are so massive with the resonators. The same principles apply to exhaust systems; the less restrictive they are, the louder.

The fact that cold air intake is noisy does not imply they are bad for your car. Instead, the sounds you hear the result from increased airflow inside the engine, which helps to accelerate the combustion rate.

More efficient combustion might cause your engine to run hotter and louder than usual. But there is no need for concern.

What Does a Cold Air Intake System Sound Like?

There are several factors to consider when assessing how your vehicle will sound after installing a cold air intake. The type of cold air system, the piping size, and the filter design all contribute to your vehicle’s sound.

An engine with a cold air intake system sounds more aggressive. This occurs because the air entering the engine is colder and thus denser. This cooler air makes the engine burn somewhat hotter, resulting in a car with a growling sound.

Keep in mind the type of vehicle you drive will also determine the intake sound. A V8 engine will produce a distinct sound than a four-cylinder engine. Hence, if you’re looking for a custom aftermarket intake for your automobile, you should conduct preliminary research.

There is no conclusive answer regarding the sound of a cold air intake. It depends on the specific vehicle and the aftermarket cold air intake used.

Yet, most individuals concur that a cold air intake system will make your car sound louder and more aggressive than stock.

cold air intake sound before and after

Below are two Youtube Videos showing cold air intake sound before and after the installation.

What Can I Do to Make My Car Louder?

Besides installing an aftermarket cold air intake system, several other vehicle modifications guarantee to make your car sound like a muscle car. They include:

Drill Holes in the Exhaust System

Drilling tiny holes in the exhaust, which will result in an exhaust leak and hence a louder sound, is the least-recommended but cheapest approach to increase the exhaust sound. Just drill five to seven holes in the exhaust pipe using your electric drill and a 3/8″ bit.

The holes must be drilled before the catalytic converter but after the muffler. If you drill the holes before the catalytic converter, toxic gases might be released into the atmosphere. As the engine generates sound, the soundwaves will travel through the exhaust system, but some will exit through the perforations before even being silenced by the muffler.

Nevertheless, this approach is not recommended since it might increase the amount of toxic exhaust gases inside the vehicle, which is unsafe for your health. It can also cause your vehicle to fail a smog inspection. Having an annual vehicle inspection in your nation might potentially cause complications.

Get a Resonator Delete Kit

A resonator works as a second muffler for your car’s exhaust system. It smoothens the tone of the car exhaust and also restricts its sound. Once you remove the resonator, you will remove all the added smoothing.

A resonator delete kit can be compared to a massive echo chamber. When installed on your aftermarket or stock exhaust system, you will get a throatier, raspier tone from your car, creating a smooth path for the exhaust gases to flow. This means that a resonator delete makes your car louder and has some added performance benefits.

Catalytic Converter Delete

A catalytic converter delete, also known as cat delete, involves removing the catalytic converter from a vehicle and replacing it with a test pipe or straight pipe.

You’ll hear a change in the volume level right away. Unfortunately, it is often illegal to do this process. Therefore, your vehicle may only be suitable for off-road use once it has been done. It will fail the emissions check without the cat.

The engine management module also utilizes O2 sensors to assess catalyst efficiency, and removing the cat will result in a P0420 code and a check engine light on the dashboard. The ECU must be reprogrammed to circumvent this problem if you desire to eliminate it.

Install Aftermarket Exhaust

If you want a mod that makes your car even louder and have the funds to do so, installing an aftermarket exhaust system is recommended. The manufacturer’s standard exhaust is excessively constrictive and designed to reduce noise.

The aftermarket exhaust optimizes the airflow by eliminating airflow restrictions. But you want to find something precisely made for your aim and built to fit your car. If you are uncertain about what to do, consult an expert.

You can replace the whole exhaust pipe with an aftermarket system or opt for a cat-back system. Catback pipes are a common alternative, implying that you change every component to the cat converter and back.

Several cat-back exhausts are available on the market, and they will offer your vehicle a louder and deeper sound while maintaining the cat’s functionality.

The aftermarket exhaust gives an additional advantage that you may not have considered. As a result of lesser airflow restrictions, engine performance will be enhanced. The engine burns better, there are fewer obstructions, and you will feel a remarkable improvement following the installation.


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