How to Pick an Aftermarket Intake System

So you just bought an Audi, BMW or Volkswagen and it is bone stock. You are ready to start ripping it apart but don’t know where to start. You may head to the forums or facebook asking around on what you should do first.

One of the first mods any new owner generally goes to is ripping out the stock airbox and replacing it with an aftermarket cold air intake system. Why? It look’s cool! Ok well joking aside, that is not the sole reason. A stock air box can be restrictive to the airflow to your engine and by removing this restriction you not only improve the air flow but can also reduce the IAT (intake air temperatures) to your engine. More air + colder air = More Power. And we all like more power.

Now lets cut to the chase here on the myths about intakes. Yes they will add some horsepower. But no they will not cause neck snapping power gains some may claim. You can expect a few extra horsepower from an intake on the actual dyno but not really noticeable from the household butt dyno everyone has at home.

So you are ready to buy an intake and you head over to and pull up your car and the intake section onsite.

Screenshot of MK7 GTI Intake Section from

Ahh selection. The good and the bad of options. When you have no idea what you want you can spend hours just staring at products trying to figure out which one to get. Rather than spend hours lets help break it down for you.

Do you live in California or concerned about the intake being CARB approved?

Good old California has very strict laws on performance products especially when it comes to emissions. If you need a CARB certified intake, make sure to apply the filter on the left side of our pages for carb certified and check the product page if the intake is carb certified.

No idea what we are talking about? Check out our post on CARB approval to learn if you should care.

You want more sound out of your car or looking for better flow while keeping your car quiet?

Open vs. closed intakes are the general big difference between intakes. A closed intake system is just that. The full air filter and system is a closed box essentially. Pictured below is an example of a closed air intake

aFe Closed Intake for MQB

The benefits of a closed intake system are

  • Protection from the hot air found in the engine bay
  • More quiet system

But if you are looking for an intake system that you can hear your engine/turbo more, an open intake system is what you are looking for. Pictured below is the Neuspeed MQB intake system.

Neuspeed MQB Intake System

Not only are open intakes easier to quickly clean the air filters, they do provide more turbo noise you can hear from within the cabin. Open intake systems are also generally more affordable as they require less hardware for manufacturing.

How long do you want to keep an intake system?

Most aftermarket intake systems made come with an oiled filter media which means the actual filter is removable and can be cleaned. Thus increasing the life of the air intake system. But some intake kits do offer dry filter media which unlike the oiled units must be replaced after a certain period of time. You should always inspect your filter media no matter which option you go with to ensure your air intake is running efficiently.

Oiled Filter (Left) vs. Dry Filter (Right)

You may also like...

Leave a Reply