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What is a Cold Air Intake?

I arrived at work a bit early today (actually 45 minutes early), and since I had to install a new air filter on my Peugeot 205 CTI, and I had the filter and necessary tools in my trunk I decided to do it right then and there.

The Peugeot 205 CTI's engine bay, showing the stock intake

Illustration for article titled What is a Cold Air Intake?

It is a straight forward job: disconnect two clamps on plastic hoses, pull the air filter assembly out of the car, open it using a tiny 8mm wrench (it's a tiny car), swap filters, and done! Very simple and easy.

So there I was, filter box out of the car, turning tiny nuts when a buddy of mine from work come over. He drives a 2008 Dodge Charger SRT8 that is heavily modified. His car could be a billboard for a tuning company, as if someone makes something for the car, he has it. He has put so much money on the car that he could have probably bought an M3 or M5 for the same price. It's a nice Charger as far as Chargers go (not my kind of car, as evidenced by my ownership of a tiny French car).


He asks me what I was doing and I told him I was changing the air filter. We are talking when the conversation goes towards my car, and he's looking around the engine. I mention it's a 1.6-liter rev happy under-square engine, with 115 horsepower, but thanks to the light weight and short gears the car still accelerates to 60 mph in less than ten seconds. We're looking around the engine bay when I casually point at the long black hose that leads from in front of the radiator to the air filter box, and I say “the car even has a factory cold air intake”.

“That's a not a cold air”, he says. I ask him why isn't it a cold air. “It's not aftermarket” he retorts. “A cold air intake has to provide better flow than a stock intake to be a cold air intake”. Really? So I call bullshit on his assessment that to be a cold air intake it has to be aftermarket, to which he says no manufacturers make cold air intakes from the factory, and the fact that that long black tube draws colder air from in front of the radiator and deposits onto my air filter does not make it a cold air intake. A bit puzzled I ask him to explain to me what a cold air intake is then.


We discuss this for a bit in the parking lot, and he was adamant that a cold air intake has to be aftermarket. No matter how much Peugeot made sure the intake air comes from in front of the radiator, because it has a factory stamp versus a K&N sticker cold air intake it ain't. We went back and forth, and he would mention how much money he has on his Charger as proof that he knew more than me about it (at one point he told me his limited slip differential cost more than my whole car, a false and pointless argument). More and more he looked like an ass, and more and more I dismissed his stupid assessment of what a cold air intake is.

Having better things to do in the morning (like actually going to work!) I left the argument as it was, knowing full well there would be no winners in this conversation. My buddy was now looking as smart as a box of rocks, and as annoying as Gilbert Godfrey with his “I spent more money on aftermarket stuff then you, so I know better” theory.


So I finished installing the new filter in the air box, connected it to hose leading to the air flow sensor, and the other hose leading to my factory cold air intake. Now my air is not only cold, but clean.

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