In need of opinions on "cold air intakes"

I am the proud owner of a 2002 Honda Civic LX and I love working on my car. I have saved up some money recently and was looking at getting a cold air intake for my make and model. K and N make one that looks good, comes with a legitimate heat shield, and has positive customer feedback. I really like the look of the part, and I think it will be a fun install. I’m aware that the power gains are negligible, but I would like a deeper richer sounding engine. The issue is that a lot of people are saying these intakes, especially the reusable kind that needs an oil coat, can lead to dirt buildup and engine damage over time. Performance isn’t a huge concern for me considering it’s a 20-year-old vehicle, but I also don’t want to jeopardize the safety of the vehicle for some extra rumble. Any thoughts or personal experiences on the topic?

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Put your money into something worth while .


I have used oiled fabric filters on several cars. Drop-in K&N filters, not cold air kits. One now has 150K on it and the filter has been in the truck for maybe 120K miles. I’ve had to clean the MAF once to clear an error code so… no real worries there. If you still worry, buy a CAI with a paper filter.

There are NO safety issues to this at all. None.

You are buying this for intake noise, pure and simple. If the noise is worth the significant cost, go right ahead. They are very easy to install.


For some cars, they aren’t that hard to MAKE, either!

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I think I might go with a quality cat-back exhaust first, if better engine sound was my goal. Neither will generate much extra hp.


any reputable brands you know of?

Some comments here suggest these gadgets can sometimes produce difficult to diagnose OBDII problems. So keep the old setup, if a problem occurs you can swap back to the OEM config and see if the problem goes away. If engine sound quality is what you are after, a change to the exhaust setup, glass pack muffler etc, might yield more bang for the buck.

Borla is one, there are several. You might check out Civic forums, they are quite active and have discussions on exhaust systems.


Just checked, turns out Borla doesn’t have one. Summit racing list two Magnaflow catback systems, around $700.

Here are several discussions:
Bolt-on Engine Performance - Honda Civic Forum (


If you are going to put on a cold air intake, then I would suggest getting a washable air filter for cold air intake. I would not get an oil coated one.

in my opinion Borla and Magnaflow is best option when you looking for perfect exhaust system

You might recall that our now-departed friend, Mountainbike, fabricated a cold air intake for his Scion tC coupe.


I’ve use oiled air filters for about 25 years now and have never had a MAF sensor get fouled or anything. IMHO, most of cases you hear about a K&N filter or other oiled air filter contaminating something is due to user error when cleaning and re-oiling the filter.

With that said a CAI is going to make more noise than anything else, it’ll be louder, but not necessarily “richer”. There’s no issue with safety, it’s not going to turn off your airbags or anything. Most of the improvement is going to be in the aesthetics when you pop the hood. I bought mine because my tuner recommended going back to the stock throttle body to improve a drivability issue ( the larger TB had a matching CAI that wouldn’t be useable with the factory TB, and I didn’t want to go back to the factory intake, so I bought another one that worked with the factory intake, the whole ordeal cost me another $500 and 1-2 RWHP).

Tires techs at shop seemed interested in loud sucking sound from kids gtp with cheap cai. We had 2nd car with a nicer cai and it was much less noisy. Kid sort of disowned car when he got a truck and I found a used stock intake for it when I sold it. He just laughed.

Back in the '60’s we teenagers often turned the air cleaner cover over and screwed it back down so it looked more like a pie plate than a cover. It was a cheap way to get a “throatier” sound…


In the 70s, too! I did that to my dad’s 70 Olds two barrel carbed 455. It made a heck of a roar!


I did the same for a day in high school with my 68-dodge coronet 440 just to see what it would sound like.
unfortunately, the 440 was the model number, not the engine size. LOL
It was a 4 door 318 2bbl, that my dad gave me for my first car. always wished it was a R/T. but it was a good car and never burned a drop of oil.


My '65 Mustang with its 170 CID 6 was MUCH more powerful once I cut away the external part of the housing and snorkel…teenagers…


My 66 mustang w/289 had a 2bbl carb and single exhaust. I missed out.

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The 289 seems like a pretty good engine choice for a 66 Mustang. Did you wish you had a larger v8? Or was the 289 ok, but you wished you had a 4bbl carb and duel exhaust pipes?

Does anyone here wonder how “bbl” got to be the abbreviation for barrel? There’s only one “b” in barrel.