According to statistics, cold air intakes are one of the most popular aftermarket options. This is especially true for Jeep drivers that like off-roading and overcoming challenging obstacles. So, the big question here is – what can you expect from a third-party cold air kit? Will it boost engine performance and add extra HP and torque to the equation? Can it improve the fuel efficiency and help the motor to burn less fuel both on and off the road?
Or maybe an air intake kit is capable of increasing the throttle response and ensuring faster acceleration? The answer is yes to all those questions! A premium-quality cold air intake system can, indeed, boost your Jeep’s performance in all directions. But that’s not even its biggest selling point. The most significant reason to invest in an intake kit is to improve the air filtration system.
Choose Your Option!
By boosting the airflow, a proper cold air intake prevents the engine from overheating. That, in turn, greatly increases its lifespan. And, with the motor always delivering its best performance, you get powertrain improvements. Today, I want to introduce you to the best intake systems for the Wrangler JK, TJ, JL, and the mighty Gladiator. To make navigation easier, I divided the list into three different comparison tables.
Best Cold Air Intake for Jeep Wrangler JK (Updated March, 2021)
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1. K&N – Best Cold Air intake Jeep Wrangler JK Worth It
As the most popular generation of the world-famous Wrangler, the JK has never felt a shortage of aftermarket parts. This is equally true for engines, suspension parts, wheels, and, of course, air intake systems. And K&N is one of the biggest suppliers of third-party intake kits and a known leader in the field. So, what can you expect to get with 77-1553KP – will it be a worthy investment for your hard-earned bucks?
Here are the facts: with this cold air intake, you’ll get a significant boost in performance. I’m talking about horsepower, torque, and throttle response. The Jeep will start to feel a lot smoother and stronger on the road, especially on tough climbs somewhere in the wilderness. On top of that, the kit comes with a highly reliable and efficient filter that keeps pretty much all the contaminants at bay, protecting the motor.
Add the company’s trademark longevity guarantee, and you’ll see why I decided to start out with K&N. In many ways, it’s the best cold air intake for Jeep JK, especially if you want that extra edge. There’s one minor downside, though: you won’t feel any big improvements in fuel efficiency. I took my time testing this kit, and I didn’t get a significant gain in that regard.
K&N’s air intake systems have always been a safe bet for a wide range of Jeep drivers. So, if you put performance gains, effective filters, and market-leading warranty deals first, you’ll most likely appreciate what this company has to offer. Just don’t expect any big MPG boosts.
2. aFe Power Magnum – Best Cold Air Intake for Jeep Wrangler JK Performance Upgrade
The first thing I want to point out is that the Magnum intake kit is expensive. It’s not unreasonably pricey, however, and if you are ready to spend a little above the average to get a top-quality product, you won’t be disappointed by it. So, the high cost is the biggest con; but what about the pros? Outstanding engineering and premium materials are definitely a big advantage. The engineers did a truly marvelous job with this cold air intake.
Next, thanks to the clever one-piece heat shield construction, aFe manages to achieve impressive results and outflow the factory filtration system by up to 48% – a decent result. Back to the heat shield, its flexible design involves minimal assembly on the driver’s part. That equals fast installation; plus, you won’t have to invest in any additional hardware. And let’s not forget about the five-layer cotton gauze filter.
It’s very effective against debris, dust, sand, pollen, and bugs, to name a few. Overall, aFe’s Magnum is a very decent cold air intake system, one that will take your engine’s safety and performance to the next level.
If you’re looking for a market-leading air intake kit and carry a thick wallet, aFe might have exactly what you need. Superb engineering, one-piece housing, and a brick-strong five-layer filter turn it into a must-have. But, again, it’s not particularly cheap and might be too steep for some JK owners.
3. aFe Power Momentum – Best Protected Cold Air Intake for Jeep JK
Do you have an expensive engine under the hood and need an intake kit to take proper care of it? Then pay extra attention to Momentum. It comes packed with a CAD-designed intake tube that was dyno-tested multiple times to achieve the best possible result. That makes it highly efficient and reliable even in the most stressful situations. I’m talking about heating race-track rides or an off-road trip into the most challenging areas.
Keep in mind, though, that this kit gets pretty loud, and not only upon acceleration. It sounds really tough, and for most Jeep owners, that’s a good thing, but some drivers like the noise-free, smooth “rumbling” of the stock system. On the bright side, you won’t have any problems with the installation process. It is very user-friendly, intuitive, and doesn’t involve expensive tools. Just follow the included instructions (they’re quite detailed), and that’s it.
The whole process takes less than an hour. I immediately felt the positive changes in performance. The JK started to pick up way better on the gas and climbed a steep mountain like it was nothing. And one more thing: the Momentum air intake kit is street-legal in all 50 American states. Therefore, you won’t have any trouble with the law both on and off the road.
The smooth intake tube, strong powertrain boost, and simple installation process are this cold air intake system’s biggest selling points. It’s also available in every single US state. The tube does get pretty loud, though.
4. Redrock 4×4 – Best Budget Cold Air Intake for Jeep JK
That’s right: this is the best budget air intake for Jeep Wrangler JK. It is affordable and carries great value no matter your driving style. So, if you’re on a tight budget but really need a replacement air kit, put RedRock on your list of must-haves. And I’ve got more good news: the low price isn’t its only pro. For example, this cold air intake was specifically designed and built for the JK to be a perfect fit. That way, it maximizes the engine’s performance.
Most noticeably, it improves the throttle response, resulting in quicker acceleration. Some folks believe that off-roading SUVs don’t really need fast acceleration, but when stuck in sand, mud, or just trying to overcome a steep climb, a strong throttle response can (and usually does) save the day. There’s one downside, though: the 4×4 air kit isn’t yet CARB-certified, meaning you won’t be able to get it in California.
On the bright side, if you live in a different state, Redrock will still be one hell of an investment.
Is this your first time buying a third-party cold air intake? If so, this could be the best pick for you. It is cheap, very user-friendly, and designed with the JK in mind. In addition, the intake tube boosts the throttle response, among other things. Just remember: Redrock isn’t available in California.
As you might already know, while the JK is the third-gen Wrangler, the TJ represents the second generation. It was first introduced back in 1996 but is still considered a highly reliable and capable SUV for conquering the most challenging trails. And if you want to take it to the next level, you’ll be able to do that with one of the following air intake systems. They’re all 100% compatible with the TJ and won’t be hard to install.
So, go ahead and give each one the attention it deserves and only make your pick after you’ve checked out the pros, the cons, and read my verdict.
Best Cold Air Intake for Jeep Wrangler TJ (Updated March, 2021)
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1. K&N – Best Rated Cold Air Intake for Jeep Wrangler TJ
What’s the most important thing for you in an air intake kit? Do you want it to improve the air filtration efficiency, or maybe you’re looking for a strong acceleration? And what about the sound – would you want it to change for the better? With the K&N cold air intake, you’ll get plenty of everything. It boasts one of the most advanced filtration systems – it easily outruns the factory setup.
THus, if you’re doing a lot of off-roading on the weekends and are a bit worried about engine overheating, that won’t be an issue anymore. The 57-1514 kit also maximizes the throttle response and makes the TJ accelerate faster. Last, but not least, as a result of more air rushing through the intake tube, you hear a completely different sound. With this kit, the Jeep will feel like it’s got 1000 horses under the hood.
A quick note: while the installation process is very easy and straightforward, the instructions could’ve been a bit clearer. They’ve got pictures and everything; yet, you might have to watch a YouTube video to figure things out.
With this kit, K&N lived up to its stellar reputation and delivered a crowd-pleaser. Superb filtration efficiency, a stronger acceleration, and a lovely-sounding engine are its biggest selling points. My only complaint – the user guide isn’t very detailed or accurate.
2. aFe Power Magnum – Best Performance Cold Air Intake System
Here, we have another big name on the market of quality Jeep parts. If you’re searching for a decent replacement air intake system, this could be it. As a matter of fact, aFe’s kit is one of the most effective ones. In real-world tests, it has proven to be incredibly efficient. When compared to the factory filtration system, the Magnum outflows it by up to 97%, which is quite a lot. The housing, in turn, is protected by powder coating for extra durability.
It keeps the unwanted engine heat out and is very quick to mount. The filter also deserves our praise. Crafted from polyurethane, it lasts for many years, if not decades. Yes, it’s cleanable and reusable and does an excellent job at keeping all the contaminants from damaging the engine. Add a heat-insulating, roto-molded tube, and you’ll get yourself a safe bet.
Sadly, the installation process might not go as smoothly as you’d expect. Mostly, this has to do with the air sensor. Depending on your TJ’s make, model year, and engine, you’ll probably have to cut a new hole for it. The rubber gasket will have to be replaced too, by the way.
Vastly superior to the factory system, protected by high-quality powder coating, and packed with a strong (and dependable) filter, the Power Magnum cold air intake system is any off-roader’s dream. It does require some mechanical skills to handle the installation, though.
3. RedRock 4×4 – Best Cold Air Intake System for Jeep Wrangler TJ 4.0L
Owners of the legendary TJ with the 4.0-lit engine will probably find this air intake to be the best offer on the table. Designed and produced by RedRock, it will be a perfect fit for this legendary Jeep. Even if you’ve never been around aftermarket gear, the installation won’t cause you any trouble. You’ll be done in 30 minutes tops without breaking a sweat. The package includes all the necessary hardware, too.
I’m talking about nuts, bolts, couplers, and zip ties – everything needed for the installation. Unfortunately, the overall construction quality is average at best. RedRock’s engineers didn’t use any premium materials for this air kit; they’re still decent, but not top-quality. But, that’s well compensated by the low price. It’s safe to say that this is one of the cheapest aftermarket cold air intakes for the TJ.
So, it’s up to you to decide whether you’re ready to compromise on the engineering a bit for the below-average price-tag, or not.
If you’re not turned off by the so-so build/material quality, this RedRock air intake kit will be of great interest to you. It is really affordable, very easy (and quick) to install, and includes all the bolts and nuts for the installation.
4. Banks 41816 – Best Jeep TJ Cold Air Intake for Great Sound
To appeal to a wide range of off-roaders, Banks paired this kit with a really big and capable air filter. It’s truly gigantic and maximizes high-flow filtration, keeping the engine cool during the toughest trials. Speaking of trials, this gear was put through dozens of tests and validated by many third parties to ensure efficiency. Thus, you won’t have to worry about its performance in real-world scenarios.
I know I just said that the filter is huge, but it won’t cost any inconveniences during the installation. The whole thing will go smoothly if you follow the instructions. I also really love how it makes the engine sound when you push the gas pedal to the floor. This isn’t a perfect cold air intake, though, and it does have one downside. While it is very effective at improving the airflow, the boost in horsepower, torque, and acceleration is rather poor.
You will see an increase, of course, but, again, it will be almost unnoticeable. To sweeten the deal, your purchase will be covered by the company’s five-year limited warranty, which is always good news. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Banks if you’re missing parts or received a malfunctioning filter.
Despite the low gains on the performance side, this air intake is a bargain. It boasts outstanding filtration efficiency, sounds just right, and easily passes many tests. The powertrain will get a boost as well, but it will only be a minor one.
Compared to the JK, the JL – the fourth-generation Wrangler – is more spacious, dependable, and efficient. On top of that, it’s rather lightweight, which makes it more effective in off-roading. As for the Gladiator, it’s based on the same platform as the JL, which is why the four air intake kits on the comparison table will be a perfect fit for both vehicles. The Gladiator is the first Jeep truck since 1992, by the way.
It’s got the looks, the strength, and the attitude of an off-roading champ. And when you replace the stock system with one of these market-leading cold air intakes, you’ll instantly see a boost in performance.
Best Cold Air Intake for Jeep Wrangler JL and Gladiator JT (Updated March, 2021)
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1. K&N Cold Air Intake Kit
With some intake systems, you can expect a certain boost in performance. In other cases, it all depends on the engine, transmission, suspension, and other factors. What puts K&N’s cold air intake apart from all the other offers on the market is that it guarantees an increase in pretty much everything. Mostly, it greatly improves the Jeep’s towing and up-hill performance. If you do a lot of hauling on a daily basis, you’ll immediately feel the difference.
Even the mightiest SUVs and trucks struggle when climbing steep, rocky hills. Well, that won’t be a problem anymore. The HP and torque will get a “kick” as well, but it won’t be as impressive as with towing/climbing. On the bright side, thanks to premium engineering, this intake kit is rated as one of the most reliable and long-lasting options both for the Gladiator and the JL.
As for the built-in filter, it’s on par with the intake tube. It won’t take long (or much effort) to clean it, oil it, and put it back into the engine bay. Sadly, the installation process isn’t always smooth and straightforward. For example, some drivers claim they had trouble with alignment and had to modify the kit a bit to make it fit.
The market-leading construction and material quality, user-friendly filter, and decent towing boost turn K&N into arguably the best air filter for Jeep Gladiator JT and the Wrangler JL. Keep in mind, however, that the installation may involve some cutting and drilling.
2. AIRAID 310-360 Performance Air Intake System
Just like K&N, AIRAID has a strong presence on the market of replacement Jeep gear. This is a 100% US-made product. It was designed, severely tested, and produced in the States, using local materials. That means 310-360 is “fine-tuned” for the challenging American off-roading trails and won’t give up on you in the middle of the road. And if it does, you can always take advantage of the no-hassle lifetime warranty.
The company’s support agents take very little time to respond and are pretty helpful. Now, you might have to actually reach out to them, because quality control issues are one of the biggest cons of this cold air intake. In some cases, it’s nothing serious: drivers report missing bolts, nuts, and even air sensors in the package. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll get an air intake kit with an uncut air box.
The installation process is very easy and straightforward, though. There’s no need in doing any tuning/calibration after the replacement procedure.
Easy to install, backed by a decent warranty deal, and produced in the States – that’s the best way to describe the AIRAID intake kit. It does have some disappointing quality control issues, but it’s nothing that can’t be solved.
3. K&N Performance Intake Kit
As the title suggests, this is a performance-oriented cold air intake. But what does that mean, exactly? Well, it was meticulously engineered to achieve the highest possible efficiency for the Gladiator and the JL. And, since most of these vehicles are pretty new, K&N managed to maximize all the advanced gear and tech hidden under the hood. As a result, you’ll get an “all-consuming” performance boost, something that most air kits can’t provide.
The intake tube boasts an aerodynamic design and guarantees an increase in “horses” and torque. The High-flow filter, in turn, is great at shielding the motor from contaminants. Add a sleek, eye-catching design that’s easy to fit in the engine bay and looks dope with the hood popped, and you’ll see why I put this kit on the list. Now, I know I just said that 71-1576 is easy to install, and that’s very much true.
However, the air sensor will probably turn out to be something of a challenge. First of all, be very gentle with the stock sensor: don’t pull it too hard. Secondly, the new sensor may not fit perfectly – some fine-tuning will be involved. To compensate for that, K&N offers multiple finishes and coatings to pick from.
There’s very little not to like about this cold air intake. It looks great, comes in different finishes and coatings, and includes some of the most advanced and effective tubes and filters. And if you’ve got some mechanical skills, the installation won’t be a problem either.
4. S&B Filters 75-5121 Cold Air Intake
Last, but not least, we’ve got a lovely intake kit by S&B. The fans of premium Jeep gear probably already know that this company can be trusted. One of this kit’s biggest selling points – it avoids the annoying Check Engine light. No tuning, programming, calibration, or any of that will be necessary. Just remove the old filtration system, install 75-5121, and that’s it.
Sadly, the package doesn’t come with any zip ties, which makes it harder to secure the hoses. Yet, that’s pretty much the only downside to this otherwise excellent product. What I really like about it is the exceptional resistance to extreme temperatures and the tear strength. Essentially, that means reliability, durability, and a longer lifespan for your engine.
And one more thing: S&B’s cold air intake is street legal across the US. On top of that, delivery + shipment take very little time.
Gladiator owners in the market for a reliable air intake will want to pay extra attention to S&B. This company makes one of the most dependable kits on the market and they come at a fair price.
The answer is yes, it will. To be specific, it will alter the way the engine sounds. That is achieved by ensuring better air filtration and flow inside the engine bay. The difference compared to the stuck gear is pretty obvious. Now, if you’ve got a family-friendly car and don’t really like to off-road, the noisy motor may be a bit disturbing for you and your passengers – keep that in mind.
On the other hand, the fans of roaring engines will find the new “macho” tones to be quite satisfying. A quick note: if you’re not sure you’re going to like this new sound characteristic, there are lots of videos on YouTube that allow you to check out how different systems sound.
If you install it properly, the new intake tube will actually protect the engine, not damage it. However, as I mentioned in the Buyer’s Guide, oiled filters are known to slightly decrease the powertrain’s potential. That’s because they tend to use flow restriction to successfully “battle” contaminants, which results in performance drawbacks. Also, most vehicles from dealerships have built-in computers that control pretty much everything.
And when they detect an increased airflow, they might deliberately change the ignition timing and implement restrictions for the engine. This mostly concerns newer cars, especially crossovers and sedans. So, if you’ve got a rough-tough Jeep, especially the 2nd or the 3rd gen, you won’t have to worry about any of that.
If you’re worried that your engine will overheat because of all the stress you put it through on off-roading adventures, then yes, a new air kit will be worth it. The #1 purpose of any air filtration unit is to maximize the airflow and ensure safe temperatures for the motor. At the same time, if you expect the intake system to greatly improve the Jeep’s performance, you might be a bit disappointed.
Most consumer-level systems only provide a slight boost in HP/torque, mileage, and throttle response. Plus, what they write in the specs doesn’t always apply to real-life situations. The actual gains depend on a lot of things, starting with how hot it is in your area and how heavy the vehicle is.
Compared to suspension lift kits, aftermarket tires, and some fancy hardtops, air intake systems are quite affordable. Right now, you can get a premium-quality package for 300-400 US dollars, and it will serve you for many years. The 200-300 dollar price range also has some decent offers. Even if you’re very serious about off-roading, you won’t be disappointed by the performance.
Now, the 100-200 range is where things get interesting. If the air intake system doesn’t include an air filter, the overall efficiency will still be better than with the factory setup. But, keep in mind that the acceleration, HP/torque, and mileage improvements will be rather modest. And if it does come packed with a filter, best believe the overall quality will be poor. So, I’d say go for the $200-300 kits – that’s the golden middle.
Sadly, it is: mechanics usually charge 70-80% of the intake kit’s price. If it’s a big and popular auto shop, expect the labor cost to reach 100%. That means if the product is available for 300 dollars, they’ll charge you $600 for the gear and the installation. That’s pretty steep!
In the long run, it will definitely be worth the investment. Research shows that a car with 30MPG saves the driver 600+ dollars in a year when compared to a 20MPG car. So, 2-3MPG equals $60-100. And while that might not sound like a lot, in five years, you’ll get to save up to 500 bucks, and that’s decent money. You’ll be able to buy a new, top-of-the-line cold air intake and still save some for the rainy day.
The short answer is no, you don’t have to do that. The Jeep will run just fine without any tuning – that’s the beauty of modern-day gear. At the same time, if you do already have a tuner/programmer, it would be wise to use it to re-calibrate some settings. This will give you some extra HP and maybe also improve the throttle response (acceleration). But, again, buying an expensive tuner just for a new intake kit won’t be a reasonable investment.
So, there you have it – the best cold air intake systems for Jeep’s legendary models. Wrangler TJ, JK, and JL are some of the most capable SUVs to ever hit the dealerships. They’ve got mighty engines, strong suspension systems, and arguably the most reliable and durable construction. However, because of the somewhat outdated design and technology, the air filtration system isn’t really up to the task.
I’m talking about temperature extremes and situations when you push the engine to the limit. The factory system is simply not strong and efficient enough to keep the motor cool. The JL has the most advanced setup, but it’s still not that great. That’s why I highly recommend investing in an aftermarket air intake kit the second you get the chance.
The Gladiator, in turn, is a midsize truck, and is, in many ways, superior to the SUVs. It’s got an impressive powertrain (a turbocharged EcoDiesel V6 paired to a VVT transmission) and is arguably the best off-roading truck money can buy. Now, the Gladiator hit the market in mid-2019 and has a rather advanced intake kit. Still, if you want the truck to serve you for many years, consider investing in a third-party unit.
And you don’t even have to spend big bucks on it. As we’ve learned today, there are lots of decent-quality intake kits available at a reasonable price. So, go back to the comparison tables, the detailed reviews, and, of course, the Guide and the FAQ. I’m more than confident that you’ll find your perfect air intake system with the help of this review!