An efficient cold air intake is one of the most necessary engine upgrades you can make for your vehicle. They offer power gains with many other benefits. Also, they do not cost you a fortune, being a more desirable choice for all car owners.
However, some people have cars with little to no idea about a cold air intake system – its functions, roles, and importance for keeping their engines clean.
So, this article targets two categories of car owners – one unfamiliar with the system and one looking for the best cold air intake for 3.5 Ecoboost. It will entail product reviews and informative discussions. Whichever category you fall under, do read the whole of it.
Top 5 Best Cold Air Intakes For 3.5 Ecoboost Review
1. K&N High-Performance Cold Air Intake Kit
Doing business from the leading position in the industry, the K&N brand has been dominating local and global markets for the past 5 decades. It manufactures its High-Performance Cold Air Intake Kit for vehicles that will upgrade your car and meet your expectations to the fullest. Here is what you must know about this prominent gear.
Features And Benefits
- Materials: If you have previously used cold air intakes, you might have experienced finding the raw materials unusable after passing their expiry period. But the materials of the K&N air intake kit feature a unique slippery cotton design to allow the system to enclose the toxic components efficiently. It is washable and reusable after expiration, which makes it highly cost-effective.
- Maintenance And Protection: The filter will not require cleaning for the first 100k miles, meaning it is quite low maintenance. Moreover, it will increase throttle response significantly, protecting your car engine from contaminants and particles and making it more powerful.
- Horsepower And Gas Mileage: The manufacturer dyno-tested the horsepower and claims that the filter provides a higher horsepower than other manufacturers by a margin of 50%. And when you test that through your car, you will see that their claim was authentic. It will result in faster and smoother acceleration and enhanced gas mileage.
- Installation: The bolt-on installation process requires some standard tools and is not complex or time-consuming at all. K&N includes a user-friendly detailed manual with the filter kit to help you set it up within less than an hour. So, if you have no prior experience, the instructions will walk you through the step-by-step process.
- Warranty: You will be able to avail of a warranty period of 10 years for the highest air intake longevity to augment the lifespan of your car.
- Increased throttle response and horsepower
- Easy maintenance and installation
- Reusable air filter
- Protection from harmful particles
- Improved gas mileage
- A 10-year warranty period
- According to some buyers, the delivery came with faulty products.
2. Roush Cold Air Intake
This one is deservingly the best cold air intake for 3.5 Ecoboost by popular choice, an ideal pick for people owning Ecoboost-powered trucks. The endless high customer ratings were a clear testament to that.
Features And Benefits
- Design: The product combines a well-built design with the knowledge gained from being a top factory tuner and part manufacturer of Ford in the last 2 decades. Roush equipped the item with a plastic intake tube to tap into the cold side factory turbo piping. Plus, there will be a separate and unique airbox for the filter. When set up with the rubber seal, it will seal the underside of the factory underhood.
- Dry Filter: When you unbox the air intake package, you will find a high-flow dry filter in the airbox. It is reusable and a suitable alternative to cold intakes from K&N, Airaid, and oil filters.
- CARB Certification: Although the brand does not promise higher torque or horsepower with its kit, you can expect it to improve your engine condition in every aspect, just as well as others. But why should you? Because its certification from CARB is more than reliable to do so.
- Installation And Others: Anyone can install the cold air intake without much effort. There will be noise, which you should expect. But it will be very minimal. While the price is reasonable, it is affordable and provides good value for money if you want superior quality and performance.
- Well-designed with high-functioning components
- Reusable dry filter
- Certified by CARB
- Easy to install and no loud noise
- Affordable price range
- It has an oiled filter that some customers did not receive well.
3. Airaid MXP Series Cold Air Intake
Next, I have the Airaid MXP Series cold air intake with its SYNTHAFLOW oiled filter. Among all things, its design is the first that caught my eye and made its way to my list. It is a well-constructed and great-fitting intake that looks excellent under the hood. Also, it has some nice features that others do not.
Features And Benefits
- Air Box Replacement: Unlike many cold air intakes, it is a complete air box replacement. So, you can even replace things like factory snorkels with parts from the Airaid MXP series.
- Materials: The intake tube, as well as the airbox itself, is built with rotomolded plastic. And that explains why the product charges you more than many others. The sturdiness and longevity of the intake will last you for a sizeable amount of time without a hint of trouble.
- Removable Lid: You will see a sheet metal-style lid with the intake. It is removable, making it a sealed enclosure if you like. Or you can pop it off, and voila! You will have the open-element filter design and everything that comes with it.
- Oiled Filter: The specific product from the MXP series has Airaid’s signature SYNTHAFLOW oiled filter that you can wash and reuse.
- CARB Certification: It is worth pointing out that Airaid is CARB-certified and suitable for gains of around 33 HP and 35 pound-feet of torque, claimed by the brand. That makes it the best-case scenario for most owners looking for an air intake.
- Installation: The user-friendly air intake is simple to set up. It will help you keep proper air/fuel ratios so that you do not have to recalibrate it after installation. Unbox the package, bolt on the intake, and you are good to go.
- Well-built with proper fittings and a unique design
- Made of durable materials
- Capable of acting as a sealed or an open filter
- Washable and reusable oiled filter
- CARB certification
- Increased horsepower and torque
- High price
4. Mishimoto Cold Air Intake
Car owners looking to purchase a high-quality and all-in-one cold air intake will love what Mishimoto has to offer them. It is everything you want in an air intake and more.
Features And Benefits
- Design: Mishimoto designed the air intake with precision, engineering it with a rotational mold to insulate it to take charge of the engine bay heat and, thus, assist your vehicle in performing better.
- Horsepower And Torque: The product is dyno-proven to enable your vehicle to run with an increased 17 pound-feet of torque and 14 horsepower. It will not only require no tuning but also decrease restrictions by 46% less than the stock systems. That is only possible when you get high-flow performance cold air intake from Mishimoto.
- Two Air Inlets: Additionally, the airbox has a secondary intake along with the stock fresh-air one to pull more cold air from the fender region. That way, it ensures that all the cold air is drawn accurately.
- Filter Options: The product offers flexibility with 2 options – an oiled filter or a cleanable dry filter to deliver the best performance in all environments. You can clean and reuse both.
- Installation: Everyone can try the air intake because of its ease to use and install. It has a perfect fit that does not require further modifications. Besides, you will get the essentials to set it up, like worm gear clamps and couplers. Even with no experience, you can get it ready within an hour.
- Precise design with a rotational mold
- Quick installation and beginner-friendly
- Perfect fittings with no alterations required
- Two air inlets to do the job better
- Maximum gains
Mishimoto Cold Air Intake Review and Installation
5. Spectre Air Intake Kit
The last cold air intake on my list is from the brand Spectre. It is slightly different from the other four. The thing is that users mostly use it for the F150 raptor, navigator, and expedition. But I found from my research that you can get optimal results using it for 3.5 Ecoboost, too. So why should it not be with the others?
Features And Benefits
- Materials: There is a reusable, washable, and low-restriction air filter with the Spectre cold air intake. You will also get an intake tubing polished with aluminum and a 2-piece heat shield coated with black powder. Their chief function is to keep the heated air from accessing the intake inlet.
- Sound And Towing: You will enjoy the turbo sound when you get the air intake system. It gives the exhaust a little growling that customers loved, considering it is coming from a 3.5 Ecoboost motor. The device enhances tows by bettering the throttle response, enhancing your car’s performance and acceleration in return. You will realize the difference the moment you open up the throttle after installing it.
- Horsepower And Fuel Economy: Spectre made the product to equip your vehicle with more torque and horsepower. The brand ran a dyno testing on it, which proved that it provides 50% higher airflow than its substitutes. While doing so, it will improve your gas mileage by 3 MPG. But note that you have to tune your car to get the most out of the intake.
- Maintenance And Install: The upkeep of the cold air intake is easily manageable. Moreover, you will not even have to think about it for the first 100k miles. About the setup, some customers said they needed as little as 15 minutes to assemble and get it running.
- Protection: The advanced oiled filter shields your car engine from harmful debris and contaminants and, thus, increases its longevity.
- Improved sound and efficient towing
- Increased horsepower with a tone-down in fuel economy
- Easiest maintenance and setup
- Affordable price
- Cleanable air filter
- Overall betterment in vehicle condition
- The kit is supposed to come with accessories like couplers, clamps, etc. But some customers said that they were missing in their deliveries.
How To Buy The Best Cold Air Intake For 3.5 Ecoboost?
You have read about the best cold air intakes so far. Do not rush to get one because there are some things to take into account beforehand. From the material to the water protection – all of it matters. Let me explain them below.
Materials And Brands
Material has a crucial impact on the performance of a vehicle. The first duty of a cold air intake is to supply fresh cold air. So the material should have high heat resistance with the capability of dealing with extreme temperatures. You will not get that from local and mediocre manufacturers. Go for a reliable and trustworthy brand that will ensure lifelong performance.
Be very mindful of picking the correct cold air intake for your vehicle, as most manufacturers offer the most suitable piece for your car, considering its model, custom dimensions, engine making, and design. You must check them all to obtain the highest performance potential of your vehicle before buying its air intake system.
Cold Air Intake Type And Durability
There are mainly two types of cold air intakes – short ram system and true cold air intake. When you visit a shop to buy it, ask your technician which will render more power and better performance. Also, pick a durable one to last for an extended period.
Ease Of Setup
That is another essential factor to consider. A cold air intake should be easy to set up for everyone, including non-professionals, enthusiasts, and beginners. If not, you better look for other options because it is not worth investing in an accessory that will give you headaches before you even run it.
Your cold air intake should filter all the dirt without harming the internal combustion engine. A capable filter extends the engine’s lifespan so that you do not have to be concerned about it malfunctioning prematurely.
A Fitting Size
Since vehicles vary within their models, their tools do, too. It also matters in choosing a cold air intake. It will be best to consult the sales executive to match the product with your car beforehand.
A Quality Thermal Barrier
Heat is a huge obstacle to the performance of a vehicle. So, when choosing an air intake, see if it has a quality thermal barrier and a robust heat management mechanism. If it is not satisfying, the tool will fail to cool down the internal combustion engine during adverse conditions.
The price of a cold air intake depends on your vehicle. Always go through the specs and features before purchasing them. It will bode well for you to check their prices online by visiting their brands’ official websites. Look out for the specs and your expectations before selecting an item.
Check and double-check if your chosen product’s description says about CARB certification. It adds to the reliability of the product. However, not having it does not make cold air intake unreliable. You just need to do more research and find out about their quality and performance.
Why Do You Need A Cold Air Intake?
At this point, if you still need a reason to get a cold air intake, I will give you five.
It brings cooler air into the internal combustion engine, resulting in more efficient fuel usage. That raises the oxygen combustion rate to produce higher horsepower for your car.
A cold air intake is an upgrade to improve the air/fuel ratio. Using more air translates into using less fuel. Thus, you save your fuel money.
Increased acceleration is the most noticeable change resulting from getting a cold air intake system. You will see and love how your car responds after making the upgrade.
The reason is that more air is available for combustion when the intake is in play, as the density of cold air is higher than that of warm air. It will enable you to drive at your preferred speed quickly, keeping you safe on interstates and busy highways.
An aftermarket cold air intake has a sturdy filter that will serve you longer than paper ones. You can clean and reuse it regularly. So, a replacement will not be necessary. And guess what? You will have to wash it after each 25k to 50k miles.
Lastly, an intake will give your car a fuller and louder sound because an engine sounds more powerful when it receives more air. Then again, if you prefer silence, you can get an intake that will tone it down.
What Are The Signs Of A Malfunctioning Cold Air Intake System?
Poor Engine Performance
If your air filter gets clogged with dirt, it will lower the airflow to your car engine, creating a barrier to smooth acceleration, fuel efficiency, and sufficient power. If you do not wash or replace it soon, the issue will spread inside your car and become severe.
Check Engine Light
The check engine light coming on is a signal that the air intake system is malfunctioning. Its sensors identify issues by turning on the check engine light to alarm you about a problem.
Awfully High Idle
If the intake has vacuum ports to back up the routing, it may cause leaks. The reason behind that is the breaking of the ports or their hoses.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should I replace my cold air intake for 3.5 Ecoboost?
While it depends on the model and condition of your vehicle, you should replace your cold air intake after traveling every 15k to 30k miles. If uncertain, try some research on your air intake and consulting mechanics.
How does a cold air intake benefit 3.5 Ecoboost?
A cold air intake benefits 3.5 Ecoboost in myriad ways, some of which are amplifying the HP, increasing throttle response, and optimizing the sound.
Do I need a tune after getting a cold air intake?
Yes. Modifying an engine’s airflow will call for a customized tune to make up for the difference. Regardless, if a brand says its cold air intake will not require any tuning, you can do without one.
Can a cold air intake raise MPG?
It can raise fuel cost-efficiency by 3 to 5 MPG only if it produces cooler air than the actual intake of your car.
What happens when a cold air intake comes in contact with water?
It will lower the performance of your car. A wet filter can make the engine run rich or choke. It can also take water into the engine and cause a mess by mixing it with the oil.
Is it okay to drive with a cold air intake system during rain?
Yes, because it will not make your car engine hydrolock. But driving without fender lines and splash shields will not be a good idea. Drivers frequently driving on roads with 6- to 8-inch deep water are better off without a cold air intake.
Wherever you go in the quest of finding the best cold air intake for 3.5 Ecoboost, everyone will mention K&N. And I will not be an exception. The brand is widely recognized for its cold air intake system that will deliver higher vehicle longevity, fuel economy, and increased horsepower. Its making is top-notch and deservingly trumps the others of its kind in terms of performance and quality.
Roush, Airaid, and Mishimoto are worth equal consideration from you, but I would vouch for Roush for its affordability that the other two could not offer. You will find all of them anywhere. However, should unavailability become a concern, you can look for Spectre and depend on it entirely.
Lastly, monitor your car’s performance to see any symptoms of a failing cold air intake and take notes from the buying guide before replacing it. It will generate the best return from your investment for a long time. All the best!