What Does an Air Intake Do for Your Car? A Useful Guide

41% of Americans can’t identify the engine in their cars, and that’s what keeps their vehicles running in the first place!

Maybe you actually know where the engine in your car is. But what about other parts, such as the engine air intake?

What exactly is that? And what does an air intake do for your vehicle? Keep reading to find out!

What Is an Air Intake?

When you go out running, you probably end up hot and sweaty, right? The sweat is your body’s way of cooling down your internal temperature so you don’t overheat.

As may already know, cars can overheat as well. The air intake (also known as the cool air intake) is an aftermarket part that can keep them from doing so.

Below, we’ll show you how they work.

How Do They Work?

There is an air intake tube that’s easily accessible from the outside. This means it’s usually located behind the grille, fender, or hood scoop.

After cold air is drawn from the outside and goes through the tube, it then goes through the engine air filter. Outside air isn’t pure; it usually comes with things like pollen and dust. The air filter acts to catch all the contaminants and keep them from getting into the engine parts.

In front of the air filter is usually a screen, which can keep out larger things like leaves and insects. The air filter will then further clear the air of anything you want to keep out of the engine.

Mass Airflow Meter

Most cars have a mass airflow meter (MAF); otherwise, they have a manifold absolute pressure (MAP) sensor. Some can even use both.

In any case, with cars that use a MAF, this meter tells the engine control module (ECM) how much air is coming in through the cold air intake system so it injects the right amount of fuel.

After the air is measured by the MAF, it then goes to the throttle body, which is connected to the accelerator. When you take your foot off the pedal, the throttle plate opens, which lets in more air to the engine. If there are any issues, then your “check engine” light might turn on.

If you have a turbocharger in your car, the air then flows into the turbocharger inlet.

After the air passes the throttle body, it then goes into the intake manifold. This distributes the air to the cylinders’ intake valves.

What Does an Air Intake Do?

Of course, the cool air intake purpose is to stop your engine from overheating. But there are many other things that it does as a result. Read on to find out more.

Less Air Pollution in Your Car

If you spend a lot of time in your car, then the air quality inside will matter a lot in regards to your health. Even if you regularly change your engine air filters, you can still be breathing in a lot of pollutants.

If you have a cold air intake installed in your vehicle, this can further improve the air quality whenever you’re in it. You can keep the health of both yourself and your passengers in great shape by having an air intake installed.

Better Horsepower

Have you always wished that your car performed better while out on the road? Some brands claim they can up your car’s horsepower by up to 4 times, which is quite impressive! You’ll be tearing up the roads with a new air intake just like in Cars movies!

Better Fuel Economy

Not only will you enjoy more horsepower while driving, but you’ll get better fuel economy while you’re at it. This is because the more oxygen that’s available for your engine, the less gas your car will need to go.

Considering that you can get better horsepower and improved fuel economy, you have practically nothing to lose when considering installing a cold air intake for your car.


Do you feel guilty about driving your car everywhere and every day? Then an air intake can alleviate some of that guilt.

Since you’re getting better fuel economy and improving your car’s air filtration system, you’ll be doing your part in looking after the environment.

Increased Value for Your Car

One of the first things car buyers look at is the mileage. You can take great care of your vehicle, but if that odometer has a high number on it, buyers will either walk away or try to get you to drop the price.

When you have a cold air intake on your car, this can help convince buyers to go through with the purchase. When they see how much gas it saves you, they’ll be more likely to buy the vehicle, even if the odometer has a higher number.

Fewer Upfront Costs

When you’re looking at aftermarket parts for your vehicle, often, they’re very pricey. While in the end, they usually end up paying for themselves with all the benefits they come with, it can still be quite a blow to your wallet in the beginning.

With cold air intakes, you won’t have to worry about that. These parts can cost anywhere between $150 and $500; even on the higher end, you’re not spending all that much.

When you consider how many benefits air intakes come with and how little you have to spend with upfront costs, it’s probably one of the most accessible car upgrades anyone can do.

Now You Know the Purpose of an Engine Air Intake

So what does an air intake do? Mainly, it’s an aftermarket part that keeps your vehicle from overheating so you can drive it without problems.

But it also comes with numerous benefits, many of which will save you money. Because of that, it may be a good idea to consider this inexpensive car upgrade.

Want to learn more? Then check out our other blog articles now.