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Cold Air Intakes – Top 5 Companies

The top 5 cold air intake manufacturers, judged by:

  • Filtration quality
  • Name recognition
  • Application list

Cold Air Intake Manufacturers – Top 5


Injen has a reputation for manufacturing cold air intakes which have bigger power gains than other manufacturers. However we have never tested Injen intakes in comparison to other kits so we cannot say if the reputation is justified. We include Injen in this list for their reputation in the aftermarket industry

Injen use dry air filters in their cold air intakes which have an appearance not unlike Apexi air filters (excluding the power cone).

Why Injen made the list:

-Name recognition

-Finish and looks of the product

-Large application list



-Independent filtration tests available?

About Injen:

For over a decade Injen Technology Co. Ltd and our sister company has played a major roll in the design and development of air intake systems.  Injen Technology is based out of California in the same city and just a few miles away from the famous Pomona Winter Nationals Top Fuel Raceway.  Injen Technology’s history is a classic success story of a small manufacturing company turned industry leader of aftermarket performance products.


AEM arguably created the cold air intake industry for the performance aftermarket. They have been pioneers for over twenty years and their V2 cold air intakes are some of the most respected, especially when it comes to Honda engines.

The stand out product for us is the AEM Brute Force air filters. These filters claim almost OEM like filtration and large dust capacity. AEM Brute Force filters are specifically marketed as off road filters and for use in dusty conditions. When a manufacturer markets their filter in this way, to us it shows confidence that the filter is excellent.

We would absolutely choose the AEM Brute Force filter (grey) over their normal dry flow air filter (red)

Why AEM (Brute Force filters) made the list:

-Name recognition

-Unique filter (synthetic strands)

-Innovative pipe design (V2)

-High dust capacity

-Good quality filtration


-Limited cold air intake catalogue, custom kit required for many car

-Have to specify “Brute Force filter” as an option when ordering, lead times

About AEM

AEM are a relatively new name in Europe but well recognised in America. The AEM cold air intakes kits utilise synthetic plastic strands in their air filters (Brute Force filters)

Manufacturers covered include Honda Civic, Honda Integra, Accord, Prelude, S2000, Ford Focus, Nissan Sentra, Nissan 350Z, Hyundai Tiburon, Coupe, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Subaru Impreza WRX, STI, Toyota Corolla, MR2, VW Golf
and VW Jetta.

At AEM, our mission is clear. We engineer products that outperform the competition, and create original product designs that revolutionize the industry. We accomplish this through a strict commitment to thorough research and development and leading-edge manufacturing processes.

AEM’s lifetime DRYFLOW Synthetic air filter is 99.53% efficient in FINE DUST testing, filters dirt as small as one micron, and never needs filter oil!

K&N Filters

K&N make it into out list because they are probably the world’s most famous manufacturer of performance air filters and cold air intakes.

K&N air filters use cotton gauze and oil. There is some dispute about using oil on air filters, namely because there are claims it can damage the Mass Air Flow Sensor. From our point of view, we see absolutely no issue with using an oiled air filter.

If we were to be ultra critical of K&N it would be that there filter technology does not seemed to have moved on, it seems to be the same construction for the last twenty years. We are also concerned about the fact that you can see light through the filter medium but K&N do state that their filters need to be used with oil to achieve the levels of filtration they quote.

Why K&N made the list:


-Name recognition

-Dyno charts

-Large application list

-Huge range of filter sizes

-Massive dealer network


-Filtration not up to standard of Apexi according to RevSpeed magazine test (details below)

-Some filter do not have a bell mouth

About K&N:

K&N supplier/dealer: uk – peter lloyd rallying. , Australia – Rocket Industries. usa –options auto salon

K&N users would probably be surprised by the amount of air filtration testing and scientific research that goes on in K&N facilities as well as in independent laboratories.  As the leader and originator of the high flow performance air filter we are always looking for new ways to provide excellent protection and maximum power for your car, truck, motorcycle, and just about anything else with an engine.  In 2005 more than 1600 vehicles were tested by K&N’s R&D group on dynamometers in the US, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.

Apexi USAApexi Japan

We include Apexi filters in our top 5 cold air intake manufacturer list because the filtration of their air filters has been independently tested and found to be excellent. (August 1999 edition of RevSpeed magazine in Japan, image included)

And in the same test their filter also gave the best performance increase of all the air filters in the test (K&N, HKS, Blitz, Sard and K&N)

The only issue with Apexi is that their cold air intake catalogue is small so if you are looking to use an Apexi you will probably have to fabricate your own custom intake. For the performance and filtration, we say the effort will be worth it.

The sad thing is that the use of Apexi intakes, in comparison to Injen, K&N and AEM is tiny. Apexi could be the worlds best kept secret when it comes to cold air intake filters.

Why Apexi made the list:

-Industry leading filtration

-Industry leading power gains

-Innovative filter design (Super Intake, inverted cone)


-Filter quality not known by mainstream/not well publicised

-Small application list, custom piping required for non Japanese cars

-Can be hard to buy, depending on the country, relatively small dealer network

About Apexi Super Intake:

Dual funnel structure boasting overwhelming intake efficiency, A’PEXi inspiratory product group including Power Intake which adopted density gradient type filter.

At the same time, the filter which suppressed the bad influence on the genuine air flow meter, it is the characteristic of A’PEXi which combines high performance and high reliability.

Using an Apexi Power Intake air filter in your cold air intake is an excellent choice for power and filtration performance
HKS Super Power Flow Filtration Test
K&N filtration test
SARD air filter test
Performance air filter filtration test method

ITG Filters

A massive name in the world of motorsport but unfortunately not so well known in the road car industry. I cant remember the last time I saw a feature car using ITG air filters.

The issue with ITG is that their range of cold air intakes is small. ITG appear to cater to motorsport teams above all else and this means if you want to use an ITG air filter in your cold air intake system you are going to have to fabricate the piping yourself. Again, not a big issue when you really get stuck into it.

There are other foam air filter manufacturers such as RamAir, Pipercross, HKS, Greddy but we like the fact that ITG filters use a three layers of foam instead of the usual two offered by other companies.

We have used two layer foam filters in the past and while they were excellent and extra layer of foam would have been nice for us.

Another thing that sets ITG apart when it comes to fabricating a cold air intakes are their air boxes.

ITG have spent time not only including a intake trumpet/beel mouth into their filter bases (very important, see the video by AEM included)

and not only do ITG use plastic for the supporting structure of their cone filters (metal support structures can be sharp and cut the foam in tight installations)

But they also take the time to design the air boxes so they present the air to the filter in the most effective way possible, just look at the shapes of their air boxes here.

The only thing you have to do when fabricating your custom cold air intake is to route the air to the filter box and from the filter box to the turbo or throttle body. ITG have done the hard work for you ie ensuring the air gets sucked into the filter in the best way possible and ensuring it can pass through and out of the filter in the more efficient way possible.

Why ITG made the list:

-Triple layer foam filtration medium

-Target market is motorsport teams

-Plastic supporting frame (in our opinion important for foam filters)

-Huge range of filter sizes

-Bell mouth cone filters

-Innovative air boxes (improves filter performance and makes installation much easier)


-Not known by the mainstream

-Custom piping required, only sell air boxes or open filters

-Can be hard to buy, relatively small dealer network

About ITG


usa – coast fabrication.

Canada – Jon Nicholls Motorsport

Induction Technology Group supplies all top levels of motorsport with light performance air filter products. Its uses lightweight multi laminate foams to create filters that are typically only 30 per cent the weight of equivalent cotton gauze products It can tailor the foam properties to take into account horsepower, length of race and dust filtration levels required by the customer. It is ISO-9001 registered and its motorsport filters are available with inspection reports if required It offers a full in-house air intake design service and can produce new bespoke designs in as little as 24 hours. ITG also offers a vast range of off the shelf air filters and carbon induction kits for road vehicles

Cold Air Intakes – Honourable Mentions

Gruppe M

Japanese manufacturer of probably the most stunning cold air intakes in the world, however Gruppe M did not make our top 5 for the following reasons

-Price. Massively expensive. While we do not place price in our selection process there is a limit. Gruppe M product can cost over a thousand dollars, for similar gains if not less/more gains to the other companies in our list

-Filter. Gruppe M use K&N filters in their intakes. For the prices being charged we would like to see something more advanced ie Apexi, AEM Brute Force, ITG


Beautiful looking intake systems with unique air filter housing. Eventuri did not make our top 5 for the following reasons.

-Price. Massively expensive although cheaper than Gruppe M.

-Filter. In house design but filtration quality unknown. Tested to ISO 5011, like K&N but the testing by RevSpeed magazine shows this test may not be perfect. Here is an independent test showing a comparison between air filters

Niche Manufacturers

There are many cold air intake manufacturers out there which specialise in specific vehicle (so their application list is small) and/or do not supply their air filters individually, their products may be great but for these reasons, they did not make our list

If you think we should have included other companies, leave your recommendation in the comments below!

Related Pages – see also:

performance exhaust manufacturers
japanese part manufacturers – general
ECUs and Performance Chips
Performance Air Filter/CAI//Induction Kit Information

Find performance parts on ebay

This page was last modified Aug 26, 2021 @ 8:29 pm

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