Is a Cold Air Intake Jeep Wrangler Worth It?

You just purchased your jeep wrangler and want to get started on your jeep modifications.  A cold air intake system is suggested to you. Well, is it worth it? Do you really need a JK Wrangler air intake upgrade?

Sure, it will add a meaner sound to your engine. A JL wrangler is smoother and quieter than the JK model when driving on main roads. But maybe, you want to make it even more aggressive.

The entire purpose of an air intake system is to provide oxygen for your engine, which is necessary for fuel combustion. What the cold air intake does is, increase the amount of air supplied to the engine. I’m sure many purists out there believe that you should maintain the stock air system(the factory-fitted air intake system).

Do I believe this? I guess you have to read on to find out! 

In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of the cold air intake system and whether this mod would bring noticeable benefits to the table.

What is Cold Air Intake?


As stated earlier, your jeep’s engine needs a steady source of air-particularly oxygen, to run. This is because oxygen supports burning or, in this case, the combustion of fuel that powers your Wrangler engine.

As the pistons retract, a combination of air and fuel is sent into the piston chamber, allowing the piston to generate an explosion converted to power.

A cold air intake is usually an aftermarket of parts used to bring relatively cool air into a car’s combustion engines. Intake systems come in various styles and can be constructed from plastic, metal, silicone, and other composite materials. They usually have larger openings to allow larger volumes of air to be filtered into the engine.

Is a Cold Air Intake Jeep Wrangler Worth It


The most basic cold air intakes have a long metal or plastic tubing that leads to a bigger conical air filter. As a result, they provide a more direct route by eliminating muffling devices and decreasing air resistance by reducing turbulence. However, because of the reduced covering, intake noise is usually increased.

What really makes cold air intake systems different is the placement of the air filters. The air filters are normally shifted outside the main compartment of ‘an engine. However, it is sometimes placed in the wheel well or under the fender bender.

Cooler air is now introduced into your engine’s combustion chamber. Cooler air is denser than hot air, which means more oxygen flows into the combustion chamber. As a result, every engine achieves optimal efficiency. [1]

An example of this is when you have a stuffy nose. Breathing is difficult and laborious when you have a stuffy nose. It is not only uncomfortable, but it also puts stress on your lungs. In addition, each breath you take with a stuffed nose is not 100% effective compared to an unstuffed nose.

This principle is similar to the cold air intake, ensuring that each air intake contains as much oxygen as possible.

Pros and Cons of a Cold Air Intake System


  • An increase in horsepower output: This varies according to the design and the manufacturer of the cold intake system. You may see some improvement in horsepower, about 4000 RPM or so, if you combine the intake with a quality engine tune.
  • Acceleration will be much more responsive: Because the engine is not overworked, there will be a faster engine response. This will lead to quicker throttle response.
  • Better fuel economy: A cold air intake system can reduce the fuel needed for proper combustion. This can lead to better fuel economy since the engine isn’t overworked.
  • Easy to install: This system is one of the least expensive mods.
  • The air filters of the cold air intake system are easy to clean and reuse. This way, you won’t have to change your filter after every 1500 miles as you would a paper filter.
  • Engines that run at a lower temperature may have a longer life expectancy
  • Your personal satisfaction with the new engine mode additions 

If you combine an efficient cold air intake with a smoother, less restrictive exhaust, you will gain a noticeable power gain.On a vehicle with no modifications, the increase in your horsepower and acceleration will be fairly minor. You’ll gain just a little horsepower, and you might not notice a change in acceleration.  So it’s totally worth it.


Regardless of the above benefits of a cold intake system, there are quite a few equally important cons.

  • Filter types: Even though a cold air filter is easy to maintain, the original paper filter catches more dirt and debris. In the cold air intake system, any kind of filter (especially foam filters) which are not as effective as paper filters in keeping dirt out.
  • Increased chance of hydro locking: In the cold air intake system, the air filter is typically placed at a point closer to the ground(the CAIs available now use the same intake point at the passenger side hood crack). At this location, there is a very high chance of water entering into cylinders.            

Simply stated, Hydro-lock means fluid prevents the pistons from reaching the top of their stroke. For an engine to become hydro locked, fluid needs to enter one or more cylinders, and the fluid needs to be more than the combustion chamber allows when the piston is at its uppermost travel in the compression stroke. In simpler words, your engine has locked up. [2]

The best filter out there can’t protect you from a ‘harmless’ puddle of water. As a result, your jeep wrangler has every chance of being hydro-locked while you are off-roading. However, this occurrence is uncommon. This is because some shields and covers are put over the air filter, as well as bypass systems that can protect your air intake from water.

  • In cold climates, condensation could freeze in your air intake pipes and make your car run badly.
  • The cold air intake can throw off your engine sensors. This instability may cause your check engine light to come on.
  • Also, some air intake systems could void your car warranty(if your jeep is new)

Does Cold Air Intake improve MPG?


Cold air intakes may increase fuel economy by 3-5 MPG. But this will only be effective if they produce cooler air than your vehicle’s stock intake. They may improve your Wrangler’s MPG; however, it depends on the component and your car.

Cold Air Intake system vs Short Ram Intake system

Two of the most common types of air intake upgrades are cold air and short ram intakes. As the name implies, short ram intake does not have a very long tubing. Instead, it directs air to the engine in the quickest route possible. This route is often straight with the least air resistance. 

Since short ram intakes draw air from inside the engine bay, which is much warmer, this can b But there is actually an advantage to this: warmer air is better for complete combustion of the fuel. This means that short ram intakes give better gas mileage than cold air intakes. Also, it can fit in tight spaces, and this makes it ideal for more cramped engine compartments.

Replacing air filters is much easier on short ram intakes due to their easily accessible location in the engine bay. Short ram air intakes also cost less to buy than cold air intakes.

Short ram intakes and cold air intakes make more noise than stock intakes.

Is a Cold Air Intake in a Jeep Wrangler Really Worth It?



While many will argue that the improvements this system brings to the table are too low, others believe this upgrade is definitely worth it. You could pick some of best cold air intakes here.

I know that Wrangler needs all the help it can get in terms of fuel efficiency and MPG.

We all agree that Jeep Wranglers are not for the faint-hearted. However, whether you have a JK or JL wrangler, an air intake upgrade won’t be a bad start. Besides, this air intake system will make you look cool when you pop your hood.