Among the countless ways of boosting your engine performance, grabbing a cold air intake is a surefire one. Horsepower, mileage, torque, engine roar, you name it, modern-day CAIs have got it all covered.
If you’re a Ford owner, then there’s an abundance of options out there for you to choose from. Well, that’s good news, but it also makes picking out the best cold air intake for F150 a tough job. This is precisely why we decided to whip up this list so that you can make your pick according to your needs.
9 Best Cold Air Intake for F150
A cold air intake (CAI) system is an aftermarket component that is attached to the engine to allow more air into it. To make it easier for you to decide which CAI is best for your F150, we brainstormed and came up with 10 best ones.
The years mentioned in the brackets indicate the version of F150 that the intake kits are compatible with. Remember that each of the following air intake kits has a character of its own. Go through the entire list to find out which one suits your preference the best.
1. 9925 Spectre Performance Air Intake Kit (2004-2008)
This kit focuses on providing users with the perfect balance of control and performance. From build quality to easy installation, each of its features is highly reputed among Ford owners. Moreover, it weighs only 12 lbs out of the box, so you won’t be going through much trouble during the installation.
Are you interested in boosting your engine with significantly denser air? This guy right here ought to do the job. Due to their ease of installation and user-friendly maintenance, they managed to earn the trust of new air intake users. But keep in mind that this product has no significant effect on your mileage whatsoever.
The synthetic filters that come with the kit are oiled. Therefore all you need to do is re-oil them at regular intervals to get the best performance. A negligible amount of maintenance effort goes a long way performance-wise. Not to mention the commendable filtration that keeps all sorts of debris away from the engine.
Do not go for this product if you’re not a big fan of slight mechanical alterations. To make up for this minor disadvantage, Spectre promises a strong uphill towing performance for users who want to make the best out of their truck. And the good news is that they have managed to keep their word to date.
2. 63-2599 K&N Performance Air Intake Kit (2017-2019)
With this performance booster by your side, you won’t be feeling much difference between going uphill and downhill. In other words, the kit will help you ensure the optimal torque for your vehicle. And we all know how beneficial that can be, especially for 2017-2019 Ford engines.
Since the engine control unit (ECU) requires no tuning, so you will get a good factory fit straight out of the box. Unlike most of the air intakes in the market, this variant of K&N will show you no fitment problems with MAF sensors. Moreover, the filter is quite large, which allows substantial debris filtration for your Ford.
If you’re looking for a target-oriented performance out of your cooler, then this might be the best pick for you. This is mainly because the air intake kit is compatible with multiple road situations. So you’re bound to get that extra bit of acceleration for tasks that require additional horsepower, like towing.
Users have reported an evident 15% boost in their daily MPG once this CAI had been installed. Besides, the customizability during installation makes it easier for first time users. We wouldn’t call the build quality the best in the market. It definitely won’t disappoint you.
We recommend users to learn swapping airflow sensors before purchasing the product to avoid any installation complexities. You can always get others to do it for you if it appears troublesome. But learning its anatomy yourself will give you a better insight into what’s going inside your vehicle.
3. MP-AIK-114 Black Wrinkle Perfit Formance Cold Air Intake Kit (2004-2008)
Who doesn’t like a healthy roar from a Ford engine bay? The Black Wrinkle CAI gives you just that, that too at a reasonable price. This fantastic value for money makes it an instant favorite among Ford owners. Pair this CAI up with dual exhausts and a header, and you’ll leave the garage with a beast of a truck.
During the installation of this attachment, you will notice that the MAF sensors are not moved to the throttle body side. Instead, they are placed towards the filter side of the pipe. This will ensure you a proper airflow in the right direction, which is a tremendous upside for a kit at this price point.
As far as durability is concerned, you won’t be facing any rusting issues. Want to take care of the installation on your own? No big deal. The cooling system allows ease of use due to its lightweight features. In other words, it’s neither heavy on your pocket nor your arms.
A common problem faced by users included the MAF being wrongly oriented. However, Million Parts has made sure to promptly address this issue by clarifying that it’s not a factory defect. All you need to do to work around this problem is to flip the tube and install it accordingly.
Keep in mind that installation instructions are not as precise as you would typically find in other kits. So, if you’re a first-time user, the fitting procedure might seem a bit intimidating. But don’t let that discourage you from making the purchase decision.
4. AEM 21-8128DC Cold Air Intake System
This AEM intake system uses a dry flow air filter paired with an aerodynamic intake tube. So you won’t need to use oil to get the best output out of this rig. The product also focuses on weather stripping and comes with a MAF mount for your pre-existing electronic sensors.
AEM centered their design, particularly towards ease of use by eliminating the need for oil. No oil means a lesser hassle of cleaning. Not to mention its high-quality hardware design that allows friction reduction and performance boost.
By purchasing the product, your hassle ends right when the installation stops. If you’re not a big fan of post-installation tunings, then this is the right product for you. You’re bound to get a boost of at least 2 MPG in mileage (depending on where you’re driving).
When you remove the stock air during the setup, remember to pull out the finned caps as well to avoid fitment issues. Now, when you’re cruising down the road, you will notice that the truck tends to stay on a higher gear for more extended periods. This is because of the increased torque that this bad boy has to offer.
The tool requirements for a proper setup are also minimal. You can take care of the installation yourself if you own the basic tools for engine maintenance. However, the product isn’t CARB certified, so if you’re living in the Golden States, then consider moving to the next item on our list. Otherwise, this is a great pick.
5. 77-2591KP K&N Performance Air Intake System (2015-2019)
The very first reason why this air intake system ranks high on our list is its sturdy construction. This oiled aftermarket component comes with a cotton filter with aluminum screening that ensures high flow and efficient filtration. And to top that off, this thing doesn’t even need a tune-up to fully unleash its potential.
As a car enthusiast, it’s entirely fair for you to want the best for your engines. So just in case you’re the owner of a 2015-2019 F150, you’re in for some great luck. This K&N addition, paired with the Coyote 5L DOHC V8 engine, pushes the power by a minimum of 8 HP if not 10.
Besides, the bolt-on installation is relatively simple for new CAI users. All you need to do is drop and bolt the system into the box. Because of its precise fitting, you’ll rarely find yourself making significant adjustments.
And the chrome and black are two of the most sought after variation of the component. However, the chrome usually costs more than the others because it’s less flashy and blends in perfectly.
Are you looking for smooth cold airflow for your engine? The aluminum tube has got it covered. An efficient and durable heat shield unit only adds to the performance of the F150. But if you’ve already equipped a body lift on your vehicle, then this air intake system is not for you.
6. 75-5067 S&B Cotton Filter Cold Air Intake Kits (2011-2014)
More CFM, more horsepower, colder and denser air in an affordable price range – this is what this product is all about. Within this kit, S&B offers both closed and open-element designs. However, we recommend you to get the closed system as it insulates the filter better than the latter.
Unlike the other closed system CAIs out there, this one actually has an absorbing bend to it. A specific portion of the body wall consists of a plexiglass panel that allows you to take a peek inside. This makes it a popular design among young Ford owners all over the US.
As for maintenance, it doesn’t really require much. The oiled filters will ensure the maximum output of the machine through better filtration and air push. Who doesn’t like using sound equipment without having to pay an extra 100 bucks?
If you’re an off-road fanatic, you must know that this filter will accumulate more dust than dry ones. In other words, you’ll have to take out the filters and give them a good wash before using them again. Honestly, the minor tradeoff is entirely worth the service because the closed system makes it hard to get dirty.
You’ll also be able to keep the airbox secure by clamping on the clips. Installation is reasonably smooth and straightforward. The clean and sleek body proportion compliments the aesthetic beautifully—definitely a must-have for users looking for an easy-to-use CAI.
7. 54-12182 aFe Power Magnum FORCE Performance Cold Air Intake System
What’s so special about this CAI is that it directs maximum airflow to your engine. In other words, this attachment boosts the capacity of your 3.5L engine much more significant than others. You not only get enhanced torque but a sublime roar of the machine as well. By the way, don’t mistake sublime for weak!
The best feature of this CAI is the optional tuning. So, whether you want to tune in or not, it entirely depends on you. Tuning is always a good investment for the F150s as the performance is always better that way. But if you feel like going easy on your pocket, you can always choose not to.
And the intake system’s size and dimension are quite satisfactory and compact. As a result, you’ll be able to fit it under your hood without going through last-minute adjustments. The double conical cotton filtration focuses specifically on cleaner air filtration and durability. You can also replace the cotton filters when necessary.
Although the kit is designed for performance, the mileage is also extraordinary. The cost of fuel you’ll be saving each trip might as well add up to successfully retrieve the cost of the product. A common problem that you are bound to face is the legality of the use of particular CAIs. Fortunately, this one is backed by CARB.
8. AF Dynamic Black Cold Air Filter Intake Systems (2015-2020)
This intake system aims towards giving your engine that extra push it needs to unleash its true potential. It also comes with a high flowing air filter. Therefore there is a significant rise in the power that makes your F150 stay on higher gears for longer durations.
Although we recommend professional installation for this CAI, the setup isn’t actually super complex. By purchasing this product, you can relieve yourself of the stress of cutting and morphing.
Another great feature of the AF intake system is the reflective insulation that significantly drops the intake temperature. The materials and build quality also give out a very premium feel. It’s quite easily the best bang for the buck as well. However, the prices do tend to change (only a little) from time to time.
You can easily distinguish the new and improved sound and throttle response from the OEM, right off the bat. Although there isn’t a significant change in the MPG, you’ll still be able to tell the difference in performance and power.
During installation, you might face a little trouble fitting the small screws into place. But that shouldn’t be a significant problem as it is easily solvable by using a little brute force. It won’t break that quickly, but we advise not to go too hard on it.
We wouldn’t call this the best cold air intake for Ford F150in the market. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that this thing isn’t worth the money. Even if you’re a new air intake user, you simply cannot go wrong with this system. By the way, the price is also nearly half of the other high-end CAIs from our list!
9. 615136 Flowmaster Cold Air Intake Kit
The Flowmaster CAI kit has a unique approach to the air intake. It caters to your engine by providing it with denser oxygen-enriched air compared to stock. More oxygen means more combustion, and more combustion means maximum fuel efficiency.
Not only that, you’ll get an instant 5% boost to your torque and horsepower, considering you’ve installed it correctly. The system also uses a 6-inch (8 layers) high flow conical air filter that makes sure that your engine gets the cold air it deserves.
Easy maintenance is yet another critical feature of this kit. All you need to do to start using this piece is bolt it into place, and that’s it. It requires absolutely no tuning or oiling straight out of the package, so you’ll be saving yourself a lot of effort during installation. Also, it weighs roughly around 8 pounds only.
According to user feedback, the fitment is excellent and offers a superb turbo noise to the rev lovers. This kit is almost similar to the OEM in structure. In other words, it ensures a much precise and direct fit under the hood. As a result, zero modification is required before installation.
What to Consider before Buying Cold Air Intake for F150
There are precisely 6 key features to consider before making the purchase decision. These pointers will help you decide whether the air intake you’ve chosen is right for you or not.
What sort of engine does your F150 have? Different machines have different fitment styles. So, look for air intake systems that are compatible with your particular one. Go through the year, make and model, and other details thoroughly, to fully understand whether the CAI you have in mind is worth buying or not.
Whether you should get tunable CAI or not is a tough question to answer as it depends entirely on you. Investing in tuning is always the right call as it enhances your output by manifold. So, tunable kits will always perform better than their non-tunable counterparts.
However, non-tunable ones are much more inexpensive and affordable. To get the best of both worlds, you may consider buying CAIs with optional tuning as well.
There are currently two variations of air filters – oiled and non-oiled. Although the difference between their filtration percentages is very minute (in fact, negligible), they both function differently.
If you’re willing to put a little effort into cleaning and maintenance of your filters, then go for oiled ones. But if you want to go avoid frequent cleaning by going easy on your budget, then the dry filters are for you.
Does it rain or snow a lot where you live? If the water manages to enter your intake, your system will be significantly compromised. Some air intake systems draw air from the bottom of the bumper. So if there are signs of a lot of stagnant water, then consider buying a different CAI that draws air from elsewhere.
You can also tackle this issue by choosing air intakes that have a bypass valve. Or only by making a double piece system that turns it into a short-ram intake.
Your air intake’s sole purpose is to supply your engine with cooler and denser air. Now, if the intake system itself turns hot due to thermal contamination, then there’s no point in using a CAI.
This is why you should consider getting a system that has a thermal barricade to address the said contamination. Remember to choose the designs that come with a sturdy heat shield.
Do you live in California? If yes, then this factor is mainly for you. To make any modifications to your exhaust or intake system, you must seek permission from the California Air Resource Board (CARB).
So for those of you living in the Golden State, go only for the intake systems that are certified as safe and street legal by CARB. Otherwise, you’re bound to get your vehicle impounded or fined.You may ignore this section if you live outside California.
Benefits of Using It
Simply put, a cold air intake unit provides your engine with cooler air. This cold air is relatively denser and contains more oxygen than warm air. Again, greater airflow results in more outstanding combustion. As a result, the utmost potential of your engine is unlocked.
The CAI supports your engine by maintaining consistent and more robust airflow. Since air intake units augment the performance, therefore the engine power also increases by several horsepowers. There is also a significant improvement in the torque of the vehicle.
In some air intake systems, the mileage is exemplary. So, the aftermarket components can literally take you the extra mile through enhanced fuel efficiency. As there is always an adequate amount of air ready for use, the responsiveness and acceleration increase by several times as well.
More airflow also causes the engine to roar when you step on the gas. Who doesn’t like a healthy sound from under the hood? All of this, while being one of the cheapest vehicle modifications in the market.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here we have the most commonly asked queries regarding the cold air intake for F150:
1. Are oiled filters better than dry filters?
No, oiled doesn’t necessarily mean better. Oiled ones catch dust through their moisture, whereas dry filters do the same through its design. However, oiled filters are also harder to clean than dry filters.
2. Why does my check engine light stay on?
This happens when there’s a fault in the installation. Most of the time, this won’t cause you any problem but consider contacting and seeking help from the manufacturer. Getting a professional mechanic help is also a viable option.
3. Is cold air intake illegal in California?
No, CAIs aren’t illegal in California. However, you are only allowed to use CARB certified air intakes if you drive your vehicle within that state.
4. Does CAI installation void the F150’s warranty?
CAI installation does not void the F150’s warranty. To revoke your warranty, the manufacturer has to prove that the aftermarket part was the reason for repair. These rights are protected under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
5. Can I install the cold air intakes by myself?
Yes, you can, as long as the manufacturer provides you with detailed and correct instructions. Moreover, there are a lot of tutorials on the internet as well. If you have prior experience of installation, then it shouldn’t be hard for you either way.
Manufacturers such as Spectre cater to horsepower needs. Whereas, other brands such as K&N takes care of mileage. On the other hand, AEM and S&B are more on the balanced side and offer the best of both worlds.
Choose the best cold air intake for F150 all by yourself by using this review as a guideline before purchasing. Allow your preferences to be the final determiner. May the air you supply to your engine be as cool as you are!