Is a BMW Cold Air Intake Installation Right for My Car?

Our team at North Bay Bavarian loves installing BMW upgrades on Santa Rosa’s finest BMWs. We’ve been in the BMW repair, service and race-mod game since 87’. The only thing we enjoy more than fixing BMWs is racing them. Many of our customers ask us what they should get installed on their cars for better performance, power and handling. Cold air intake installation is a popular mod, but is it really worth it? In this article we take a closer look at cold air intake installations, how they work, their merits and if they’re right for your Santa Rosa BMW.

What Do Cold Air Intakes Do?

The idea is to get more horsepower and acceleration by replacing the stock airbox and filter with an aftermarket cold air intake.

Your engine functions best when cold air is supplied to it.

Do Cold Air Intakes Really Increase Horsepower and Acceleration?

BMW upgrades graphicCold air intakes can increase the stats on race engines, but multiple independent studies have concluded that performance on stock vehicles after installation results in performance that barely improves, stays the same or even gets worse in some cases.

What causes the performance increases in race cars but not in stock cars?

For one, racecars are generally dyna-tuned in such a way that every single detail of the car gets modified for optimum performance. The racecar’s computer is altered to expect certain results from the modified parts. Your stock car’s computer was programmed to expect outputs from your car that fall within specified ranges. Altering the outputs without altering the ranges that your car looks for can cause multiple issues.

In most cases, it is cost-prohibitive or totally overlooked to alter the computer on your stock car to accept the outputs of a cold air intake. If you don’t get your car’s computer reformatted to accept the new information, you are likely to see your check engine light come on.

If you’re interested in pursuing a cold air intake installation, we highly recommend that you do it at our shop. We have the dynamometer, gas analyzer and computer reprogramming knowledge necessary to complete the installation correctly.

Other shops may fail to reformat your car’s computer or, worse yet, they may reformat it to your car’s detriment. Other shops have also been known to install the cold air intake in a place that actually results in HOTTER AIR flowing into your engine.

Look at the position of the stock airbox on your car, and then look at the position of cold air intakes installed on the same make and model. If they are in dramatically different locations under the hood, there is a strong likelihood that the cold air intake mod was placed in a position that does not allow cold air to flow to the engine.

Any Reasons to Avoid Cold Air Intakes?

The biggest reason to avoid cold air intakes is that they can void a new car’s warranty. Staying in compliance with your warranty is a huge benefit to you. You may lose access manufacturer-driven recall replacements after voiding your warranty. Unexpected catastrophic failure is another concern.

Also consider that a team of some of the world’s best car engineers designed your BMW to run as efficiently as possible. Your stock airbox was designed to work in unison with the mass airflow sensor as efficiently as possible. The BMW engineer team considers performance, fuel economy, handling, environmental impact and pretty much everything else under the sun when designing an ultimate driving machine.

Altering the airflow in your BWM can degrade overall performance, reduce acceleration and negatively impact the environment with increased pollution. Your car’s ability to pass a smog check can be impacted.

What Other Upgrades Do You Recommend?

We aren’t just talk at North Bay Bavarian. We race our BMWs at every opportunity. We’ve participated in the Chihuahua Express and the La Carrera Panamericana. We also built a drift car that races in Formula Drift all over the continent.

The dealerships will always try to upsell you on every upgrade available. At North Bay, we’ll work with you to assess which BMW upgrades will deliver the greatest value for your performance goals.

Call us today, so we can talk about turning your Santa Rosa BMW from a commuter car to a race-ready sensation.