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Cold Air Intake Heat Shield

Upgrade Your Air Intake Box with a Heat Shield

Upgrade Your Air Intake Box with a Heat Shield

If you’re serious about getting more horsepower out of your vehicle, one of the best solutions is simple — colder air. Cooler air moving through your car’s air intake will increase performance.

There have been... at least a few internet debates of how much horsepower an aftermarket cold air intake really gets you. We’re not here to put that argument to bed, but we will lay out an alternative solution that is also very cost effective: installing heat shields. Proper heat shielding will decrease the temperature of air into your engine whether you’ve installed an aftermarket cold air intake or still have a stock system.  

If you haven’t installed a cold air intake and want to, first make sure to consider the following:

  • Vehicle type. Most everyday cars and trucks will see an increase in power (typically a small amount) from aftermarket cold air intake installs. Some models though, come stock with a highly-engineered intake system specifically designed for the car. If you replace this system, you will lose performance instead of gaining it.
  • Noise. Many car owners report that aftermarket cold air intakes create a lot of noise. For some people, that’s no big deal. You may even WANT the noise. But if you don’t want extra noise, heat shields won't make any. :)

You can choose to install car soundproofing materials with your cold air intake to counteract the additional noise. Soundproofing cars is kinda our thing, so we can help you out there too.

If you’re serious about getting more horsepower out of your vehicle, one of the best solutions is simple — colder air. Cooler air moving through your car’s air intake will increase performance.

There have been... at least a few internet debates of how much horsepower an aftermarket cold air intake really gets you. We’re not here to put that argument to bed, but we will lay out an alternative solution that is also very cost effective: installing heat shields. Proper heat shielding will decrease the temperature of air into your engine whether you’ve installed an aftermarket cold air intake or still have a stock system.  

If you haven’t installed a cold air intake and want to, first make sure to consider the following:

  • Vehicle type. Most everyday cars and trucks will see an increase in power (typically a small amount) from aftermarket cold air intake installs. Some models though, come stock with a highly-engineered intake system specifically designed for the car. If you replace this system, you will lose performance instead of gaining it.
  • Noise. Many car owners report that aftermarket cold air intakes create a lot of noise. For some people, that’s no big deal. You may even WANT the noise. But if you don’t want extra noise, heat shields won't make any. :)

You can choose to install car soundproofing materials with your cold air intake to counteract the additional noise. Soundproofing cars is kinda our thing, so we can help you out there too.

Free USA shipping
Free USA shipping

Popular Heat Shield and Insulation Materials


Radiant Shield™ Reinforced Foil Heat Shield
Thermal Block™ Heat Shield
FireWall™ Ceramic Thermal Insulation

The Benefits of Cooler Air in Your Engine

Simple science tells us that cold air creates more power in a car’s engine than warm air. Cold air is denser than warm air. Because the molecules are closer together, when the air is sucked into your car’s engine there's more oxygen in less volume. When the oxygen-rich air combines with fuel, it creates a bigger burst of energy (power).

If you can force more oxygen into your engine with cold air, the fuel burns at a more efficient mixture and you get more out of every drop of fuel. This leads us to the top two benefits of cooler air in your engine:

  1. More horsepower
  2. More torque

Besides power, the second benefit of cooling the air in your engine is responsiveness. Throttle response increases when your engine is sucking in colder air, meaning that it can take less time to accelerate than with warmer air. You may notice when driving in the summer that your car feels a bit more sluggish than in the winter. Part of the reason may be the temperature of the air in your intake.

So, cooler air is the way to go. How do you make it happen in your vehicle?

Some choose to install aftermarket cold air intake systems. These mods are designed to relocate your air filter away from the engine bay heat, and in doing so, give you a power boost. Cold air intakes will usually run you a couple hundred bucks and are one of the cheapest and easiest mods to bump your horsepower up a few notches. No guarantees, but most people get modest gains.  

Another cost-effective solution that can be at least as effective as a new air intake is installing heat shields. Heat shields are easy to install and relatively inexpensive to purchase. They can be used on both factory air intakes and aftermarket intake systems alike. Our heat shield of choice is Radiant Shield, a peel-and-stick aluminum heat shield that’s 0.2” thick and can withstand temperatures of up to 1000°F.

Radiant Shield works by reflecting 98% of radiant heat away from whatever you stick it to. With a 1” air gap, Radiant Shield can reduce temperature on the application surface by well over 100°F. Simply install Radiant Shield on your engine’s air intake components to reflect heat away from your system. Make sure to clean each component first (use denatured alcohol) to ensure that Radiant Shield sticks permanently. Less heat traveling into your air intake system results in cooler air and instant results.

Radiant Shield: An Easy Fix for Automotive Hot Spots

Radiant Shield is an extremely flexible, peel & stick heat shield. Because it's durable and easy to install, is often preferred to an all-metal heat shield (or it can be a helpful addition to the metal heat shield you already have). The highly reflective foil (98% reflective) is woven with fiberglass to make it both extremely durable and easy to work with. Just stick it anywhere you have a hot spot and limited clearance, like the transmission tunnel. Always leave a 2" gap and face it towards the heat source for the best protection from from unwanted heat.

  • Lightweight: Add just 0.083 pounds per square foot
  • Reinforced foil temperature rated to 1000°F
  • Resistant to water, solvents, oil, coolant, and engine fluids
  • Made in the USA

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How to Use Heat Shield in Your Air Intake Box and System

The theory behind cold air intake heat shields is simple: install materials that will reflect heat away along the entire path the air travels through in your engine. Start with where the air enters, then add protection at every step along the way. The exact path can vary, but let's use this one to look at our options.

  1. Air intake filter
  2. Air intake pipe
  3. Airbox
  4. Intercooler pipe

Air Intake Box Heat Shield

The easiest place to start is the airbox. You can simply cut appropriately-sized pieces of Radiant Shield, remove the paper backing, and stick them to the cleaned outside surface of the airbox. Very easy gains and you won't need to unscrew a single thing. Just make sure you’re covering the parts of the airbox that face your engine’s heat sources.

Air Intake PIPE and Intercooler Pipe Heat Shield Wrap

For folks with a bit of willingness to take apart the engine, the next step is to add heat shielding to the two pipes. Radiant Shield is perfect to wrap around these two pipes. It's relatively inexpensive and can quickly be cut and added to air intake pipes and intercooler pipes of most sizes. For this step, it’s just a matter of unscrewing and removing the pipes, wrapping them with the Radiant Shield heat protection, and then reattaching them. In some cases, you don't even have to unattach the pipes!

Air Intake Filter Heat Shield

And then finally, for anyone with some metal fabrication skills, you want to keep heat away from the actual entrance point: the air intake filter. This part can be a little more difficult, but check out this video showing a DIY custom heat shield. Radiant Shield can be added to the metal shield you've fabricated for additional heat protection.

If you want to increase the effectiveness of any metal shield, you can apply a layer of FireWall Ceramic Thermal Insulation. Firewall is temperature rated to 400°F and a good thermal insulation layer when applied to 2-3mm of total thickness. This could be done in place of or in addition to the Radiant Shield application we discussed earlier.

Explore Second Skin's Sound and Heat Insulation Materials

It pays to keep cool air flowing through your engine. Whether you’re in it for the power, the fuel economy, or engine response, a simple heat shield installation will get you results. It’s easy to do, extremely effective, and will work whether you have a cold air intake or the stock factory system.

Quality materials matter. Quality advice does too. Second Skin is here to save you time and effort by ensuring you get the right tools for the job and a helpful perspective along the way. If you have questions about your project, reach out to us! We're here to help.

You can also check out our full line of automotive sound and heat insulation materials. That button right down below will get you where you need to go.