Best Cold Air Intakes System Tundra – 2021 Round-up

| Last Updated: June 25, 2021

Easy to install, affordable, and simplistic in function, these systems not only improve horsepower and acceleration but can also improve fuel economy. With this trifecta of benefits, a cold air intake system is a no-brainer for power truck enthusiasts.

Comparison of the Best Cold Air Intakes System Tundra

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Easily increase performance of your vehicle
  • Simple and easy installation option
  • Filter can be washed and reused
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  • Comes with a 10 years limited warranty included
  • Up to 50 percent more airflow for increased horsepower
  • Will improve the sound of your engine
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  • Best for the Money
  • Everything needed for complete installation included
  • Works easily with original factory equipment
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  • Best Volant Cold Air Intake for Tundra
  • Can be used for a variety of Toyota models
  • Strong polyethylene materials used
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  • Best AFE Cold Air Intake for Tundra
  • Washable synthetic materials to last much longer
  • Increase the air intake with up to 38 percent
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What to Look For When Buying a Cold Air Intake System

Like many aftermarket parts, cold air intake systems for the Toyota Tundra vary in quality, durability, and price. And if you’re new to cold air intakes, you may not know where to start. Begin your research by looking for these attributes, which enables you to get the performance you desire.

Fender Mounts and Heat Shields

If you’re aiming to maximize your Tundra’s performance via a cold air intake system, consider products with fender-mount options or heat shields. Although these are typically only seen on high-end cold air intakes, they effectively lower the temperature of the air more than products mounted inside the engine compartment. This contributes to even better performance.

Construction Materials

Less expensive cold air intakes are typically made of plastic. And while these are better than nothing, plastic can absorb more heat than other materials, lessening the overall effect of the system. Therefore, buyers should consider cold air intakes made from various types of polymers or aluminum to maximize overall efficiency and performance.

Short Ram vs Traditional Cold Air Intake

When you’re searching for an air intake, you’ll come across two types: short ram and traditional. Both have their advantages and drawbacks. In essence, a short ram focuses on reducing air restriction while a traditional cold air intake emphasizes maximizing the flow of cold air. Which one works better is still a topic of debate, so oftentimes selecting one is a matter of preference.

Review of the Best Cold Air Intake Systems for Tundra

Cold air intakes span a wide range of prices and levels of quality. But if you’re interested in installing one on your truck, here are a few reviews of the best cold air intakes for Tundra. With a bit of research, you can make a decision on which one suits your need for speed and performance.

Best Overall:
Airaid SynthaMax Dry Filter Intake System

Airaid Cold Air Intake System: Increased Horsepower, Superior Filtration: Compatible with 2007-2020 TOYOTA (Sequoia, Tundra)AIR-511-213

PROS

  • Easy, bolt-on installation
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Washable and reusable filter
  • Protected by cold air dam panels
  • Noticeable increase in both horsepower and torque

CONS

  • Little to no improvement in fuel economy
  • No airbox, which causes the filter to get dirty rather quickly

What Recent Buyers Report

Overall, the Airaid SynthaMax Dry Filter Intake System receives positive reviews from buyers. In particular, they praise the ease of installation, a menacing growl when accelerating, and sturdiness of the materials. However, others report that the instructions make the installation more difficult for novices. The growl after installation can also be loud inside the cab, which makes conversation or listening to the radio more difficult.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Made from high-quality, high-density polyethylene, this intake system is one of the most durable available outsides of aluminum systems. Plus, the cold air dam panels are a nice upgrade over similarly priced systems, ensuring that performance increases dramatically. And with a no-hassle limited lifetime warranty, buyers can rest easy knowing that Airaid stands behind its products.

Bottom Line

With a solid build, an affordable, and an observable uptick in performance, the Airaid SynthaMax Dry Filter Intake System is an amazing unit for the money. Throw in a washable, reusable filter and easy installation, and this cold air intake also saves you time and cash.

Runner-up:
K&N Cold Air Intake & Filter Kit

K&N Cold Air Intake Kit: High Performance, Guaranteed to Increase Horsepower: Fits 2012-2019 Toyota Tundra 5.7L V8, 77-9036KP

PROS

  • 1 million-mile, 10-year warranty
  • Aggressive growl during acceleration
  • 50% more airflow than stock air intakes
  • Bolt-on installation takes only about an hour
  • Oiled cotton filter provides top-notch protection

CONS

  • Some users report poor quality hardware included
  • High-pitched whine heard in cabin during acceleration

What Recent Buyers Report

With high marks for installation, performance, and a guttural engine growl, buyers report being overly satisfied with the K&N Cold Air Intake & Filter Kit. Moreover, the improvement in acceleration and torque is pronounced, although a 15% increase in fuel economy is what makes Tundra drivers even more excited about the product. However, some buyers called the quality of the pipe and hardware into question, citing that it felt flimsy.

Why it Stands Out to Us

With over 60 years in business, K&N is a trusted brand name in aftermarket cold air intakes and filters. And while the 1 million-mile warranty seems a bit excessive, the point the company makes shows how much K&N trusts their own handiwork. Easy installation, a low price point, and a noticeable increase in both horsepower and fuel economy highlight the other standout features.

Bottom Line

With a rock-bottom price and a reputable name, the K&N Cold Air Intake & Filter Kit is one of the best buys on the market. Not only does it provide an excellent, improved capability for the Tundra, but the oiled filter also provides optimal protection against dirt, dust, and other engine contaminants.

Best for the Money:
AF Dynamic Cold Air Filter Intake System With Heat Shield

AF Dynamic Black Cold Air Filter Intake Systems with Heat Shield 2012-2016 Compatible With Tundra 5.7L V8 3UR-FE

PROS

  • 6% to 8% increase in torque
  • Increase of 5 to 10 horsepower
  • Guttural growl when accelerating
  • Heat shield improves functionality and ensures more cold air enters the intake
  • Comes with high-quality hardware for easy installation and improved durability

CONS

  • Fitment issues with some Tundras
  • Can trip check engine light and reset engine control unit (ECU)

What Recent Buyers Report

For the money, nothing beats the AF Dynamic Cold Air Filter Intake System with Heat Shield according to a majority of buyers. The reason for such a high rating lies within the major improvement of power, a throaty growl even when idling, and a heat shield that ensures more cold air. However, some buyers also say that this unit continuously trips the check engine light to the point of annoyance.

Why it Stands Out to Us

One of the most modestly priced cold air intakes on the market, this product provides tons of great features at a fraction of the price of more well-known name brands. In addition, the torque and horsepower increases will turn the Tundra into full-on beast mode.

Bottom Line

With a price of about half of name brand competitors and still containing all the high-dollar features, the AF Dynamic Cold Air Filter Intake System with Heat Shield is a bonafide bargain. However, fitment issues and the tripping of the check engine light could turn off some novice installers or those who don’t want to cover the light with a piece of tape.

Best Volant Cold Air Intake for Tundra:
Volant Cool Air Intake Kit With Cleanable Filter

Volant 18857 Cool Air Intake Kit

PROS

  • Better gas mileage after installation
  • 10% to 15% increase in fuel economy for the Tundra
  • PowerCore filter designed specifically for off-roading
  • Quick, easy installation thanks to detailed instructions
  • Made from durable polyethylene for improved longevity

CONS

  • Fitment issues with drilled holes not lining up to factory holes
  • Some buyers state no noticeable change in horsepower or torque

What Recent Buyers Report

Compact and easy to install, the Volant Cool Air Intake Kit with Cleanable Filter provides excellent increases in fuel economy according to many buyers. While some users report fitment issues, others say the unit fit right in place without any problem.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Perhaps the most interesting feature of this cold air intake is the PowerCore filter. Built specifically for off-roading and harsh environments, this filter is 10 times more efficient than comparable ones included with most other cold air intakes. And with a moderate improvement in fuel economy, you’ll spend less time at the pump.

Bottom Line

Overall, the Volant Cool Air Intake Kit with Cleanable Filter is a reputable name with plenty of nice features and performance benefits thanks to its design and the PowerCore filter. However, a heftier price tag may force some budget-conscious buyers to look elsewhere.

Best AFE Cold Air Intake for Tundra:
aFe Power Momentum GT Performance Intake System

aFe Power Momentum GT 51-76003 Toyota Tundra Performance Intake System (Dry, 3-Layer Filter)

PROS

  • Little to no noise in the cabin
  • Installs in only 30 to 60 minutes
  • Increase of up to 40 horsepower
  • Torque increase of up to 60 pound-feet
  • Three-layer filter provides ultimate protection

CONS

  • Installation difficulty for non-mechanics
  • Performance increase claims aren’t recognized by all buyers

What Recent Buyers Report

Thanks to an average 2 mpg increase, simple installation for intermediate mechanics, and a ferocious growl, recent buyers report the aFe Power Momentum GT Performance Intake System earns excellent marks. However, novice mechanics may have trouble installing it, with some saying it takes up to three hours.

Why it Stands Out to Us

At the high-end of the aFe lineup, this cold air intake promises and delivers on all of its claims. And with more fuel economy and more horsepower, you’ll have a one-two punch that other cool air intakes can’t touch.

Bottom Line

Designed for performance driving, the aFe Power Momentum GT Performance Intake System provides stellar performance and an engine purr that makes the Tundra sound and drive like it’s a custom job. The price tag remains rather off-putting for some buyers. But for the money, this intake delivers.

What is a Cold Air Intake System?

As the name suggests, a cold air intake system is an aftermarket part that funnels cold air into a combustion engine—just like the one under the hood of your Tundra. Typically, these parts consist of a plastic or metal tube that connects to a cone-shaped air filter near the exterior of the engine compartment. 

Unlike a stock intake, this system allows cold air to enter the combustion engine while also acting as an air filter to prevent debris from getting into the engine. Some cold air intake systems may also contain an airbox, which keeps the air-cooled and prevents warm air from the engine compartment from entering the system.

How Does a Cold Air Intake Work?

Cold air intake systems work by funneling cold air into a combustion engine, which is more ideal for induction. The reason this works is that cold air is denser than warm or hot air, allowing the engine to combust more efficiently. This translates into improved power and better fuel economy.

Comparison Overview - Cold Air Intake vs Short Ram Intake

As mentioned above, cold air intakes and short ram intakes are two aftermarket parts that improve a vehicle’s performance by increasing the efficiency of engine combustion. Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of each.

Cold Air Intake System

A cold air intake system funnels colder, denser air to the engine by moving the intake and filter to a location further away from the heat of the engine. These can be located on the exterior of the vehicle or at another location inside the engine compartment that maximizes the amount of cool airflow.

However, these systems are more difficult to install and may require professional installation. And due to the amount of tubing/pipe length, they’re also more expensive to purchase. Supporters of these types of intakes often state that they’re more efficient and create better performance than short ram intakes.

Short Ram Intake

Unlike cold air intakes, short ram intakes create the better performance by limiting or reducing the amount of air resistance. To achieve this goal, these intakes simply use a shorter amount of tubing or piping, hoping to achieve the same result as a cold air intake.

While the debate still rages about which system is better, the short ram has some unique benefits. It’s lighter, easier to install, and more affordable than cold air intakes, making it an optimal choice for first-time buyers or installers of air intake systems.

Stop Blowing Hot Air About Your Tundra’s Performance

Cold air or short ram intakes are an easy way to add a little bit of what everyone wants from their Tundra: a bit more power, extra engine/intake grunt, and a great look. Another potential benefit is the savings on standard paper filters, if you opt for a cold air intake with a reuseable/cleanable filter. 

People Also Ask

Now that you know the differences between different types of cold air intakes, what to look for in a quality system, and how one operates, you can make an educated buying decision. However, you may still have some additional concerns or questions before pulling the trigger. Here are some of the most common questions people also ask about cold air intake systems.

Is a Cold Air Intake Worth the Money?

The debate over whether cold air intakes are worth the money continues. Some critics maintain that it does very little to performance compared to the price or other Tundra upgrades. Conversely, fans of cold air intakes notice a marked performance in acceleration and overall performance. As a result, reviewing and researching each product before you buy is a surefire way to find a cold air intake that produces the results you want.

How Often Should You Clean Your Cold Air Intake Filter?

Typically, you should check your cold air intake filter every or every other oil change to ensure it’s free of dirt and debris. If you’re a city or light driver, you might extend this to every 15,000 to 20,000 miles. Many cold air intake filters are reusable; make sure to see if yours is reusable to save money on unnecessarily buying a new filter.

Can You Install Cold Air Intake Yourself?

If you’re a DIY mechanic with a bit of knowledge, you can probably install a short ram air intake with little problem. Cold air intakes require a bit more technical ability, but the determined buyer can install it with little problem in about an hour to two hours. If you lack confidence or experience, you may want to have a professional install it to limit any chance for potential issues.

How Much Does a Cold Air Intake Cost?

Cold air intakes usually range from about $150 to $500 depending on the brand and quality. Installation may run from $50 to $150 depending on geographic location or the complexities of the cold air intake.

An ex-salesman of industrial equipment, Shawn used to drive nearly 60K miles a year just commuting to clients. He also has a little project Miata build going on the side. Safe to say, Shawn has slain a few tires in his days. He knows all about horrid road-noise, hydroplaning risks, and how much damage a bad alignment can do to your wallet. He enjoys helping us out and Chris always values his opinion when designing something new for the website.