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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
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