Adventures in Cold Air Intake Rigging Disasters

By: David S. Brooks
The positive effects of a cold air intake are known around the world, from commuters to hardened racers. Throttle response quickens to a hair-raising thrill. High-rev punch and pull pushes to astounding levels. The cloth filter saves cash. Fuel economy bumps up a hair. All of these benefits can be had with simple installation in less than one hour.

But some people take it too far. They feel the power of a cold air intake, and they begin to plot new and exciting places to install one, mistakenly thinking of their CAI as some kind of magic device instead of a highly tested piece of scientific equipment. Once that cranial light bulb flashes on—no matter how slight the wattage count—shakily-rigged disaster is the only possible outcome. Frightening pictures of CAIs jutting from everywhere aren’t enough to deter the would-be Dr. Frankenstein.

That’s why you’ll see ill-fitted cold air intakes—like the ever-popular K&N FIPK—grafted onto places they never belonged. With just a couple of hose clamps, that FIPK can be crossed with a lawnmower, chainsaw, weed-eater or leaf blower. While K&N does make filters and other parts for landscaping machinery, this is an extremely bad and ineffective idea. A cutting torch can be used to transplant a second intake to the first, but the effect can be detrimental to the positive gains the original intake gave.

It gets even worse. Cold air intakes have been rigged to dryers, disc sanders, floor buffers, and pretty much anything with a motor. Rumors are abound that a cold air intake even made its way “between two pillows" at a frat party in Big-Ten territory, searching for flatulent performance. Basically, anywhere there’s a budding engineer or bored backwoods yokel with a few tools, a CAI is doomed to be abused. Gone is the intention behind such a technically sound piece of performance equipment, tossed in favor of life as a redneck freak show.

Fighting the freak show is easier than you might think. Resist the temptation to attempt a transplant of cold air intake power onto anything that’s sluggish. A CAI is meant to mate with a specific vehicle with a specific engine, and will not aide other disappointments like a dishwasher or lumpy son. Follow the directions, follow the path set forth by the hundreds of hours of testing, and you’ll follow the path to power. Stray from this path, and the journey toward the automotive freak show will be swift.

Don’t misuse a cold air intake like the K&N FIPK —only using it with the intended vehicle and engine will produce the correct effect. - David S. Brooks
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