Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls
  1. Home
  2. Articles
  3. Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Cold Air Intake

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Cold Air Intake

cold air intake

A cold air intake is a type of engine air intake system that is designed to bring cool air into the engine. Cold air intakes often uses shorter, smoother piping, as well as strategic filter placement away from the heat of the engine to bring cooler air into the engine than would normally be provided by a non-cold air intake system. Cold air is more favorable for engine induction as cold air is significantly more dense than hot air. As a result, it will allow for more power output from the engine. Most cold air intake systems are available as aftermarket kits, however, some manufacturers do offer their own cold air intake kits as an option. Because cold air intake kits are the direct component that feeds the air into the engine, any problems that may arise with the intake over time can quickly lead to other issues with the drivability of the vehicle. Usually a problem with the cold air intake will produce a few symptoms that may alert the driver of a potential problem that should be serviced.

1. Reduction in engine performance

One of the most common symptoms associated with a bad or failing cold air intake is a reduction in engine performance. The cold air intake also uses an engine air filter, which when clogged or dirty can cause a reduction in power, acceleration, and fuel efficiency. In more severe cases, a dirty air filter may also cause problems with starting the vehicle.

2. Excessively high or surging idle

Another symptom for a potential problem with a cold air intake system is an excessively high idle. An excessively high idle may be an indicator of a potential vacuum leak. Many cold air intake systems come with vacuum ports to accommodate the original manufacturers vacuum routing. If any of the hoses on these ports break or come free, or the ports themselves break, it will lead to a vacuum leak which will cause an excessively high or surging idle.

3. Check Engine Light comes on

An illuminated Check Engine Light is also a common symptom associated with a problematic cold air intake. If any of the sensors that are installed in the intake detect any issues, they may set off the Check Engine Light to notify the driver of a problem. Problems such as vacuum leaks or faulty sensors are the most common reasons why the Check Engine Light can be set off.

The cold air intake is the induction system responsible for feeding air into the engine, and is therefore very important to its operation. If your vehicle is displaying any of the symptoms above, or you suspect that your cold air intake system may be having an issue, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic, to determine if your car needs a cold air intake replacement.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Still not sure about your car's issue?
Diagnose your car
What kind of issue are you experiencing?
Brakes are squeaking
Car is not starting
Car is overheating
Car is shaking (vibrating)
Fluids are leaking
Heating and A/C
Smoke or steam is coming out of the car
Warning light is on
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

Insurance Requirements for Car Registration in Kentucky
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet requires that all drivers in Kentucky carry liability automotive insurance, or “financial responsibility” in order to operate a vehicle legally and maintain vehicle...
How to Transfer a Car Title in Idaho
In order to prove ownership of a car, you must have the title. However, when a car is sold, given away or inherited, the title needs...
How to Get a Louisiana Driver's Permit
s licensing program. The first step in this program is to obtain...


Related questions

Q: Engine whirls when it is started. The engine makes a audible but not loud WHIRRING (not squealing) sound when foot is on the gas.

There could be a hole in the intake air cleaner hoses or a drive belt that is loose causing the whirling sound. Try removing the drive belt and driving the vehicle for a short time. The battery light will come...

Q: Vacuum leak

Hi. This is a very common failure on vehicles like yours. So common, in fact, that there is a technical service bulletin (TSB) on it. The TSB is XT303-13 and it addressed the hissing sound from under the hood, as...

Q: My vehicle is mixing water and oil

Because you have a manual transmission, the mix of oil and coolant can be caused by a leaking intake manifold gasket, a blown head gasket or a cracked cylinder head. The intake manifold would need to be removed and inspected...