Cummins engines have been an option in Dodge RAM pickups since 1989. They are a strong, reliable engine that will perform well year after year. But like every other engine out there, there is always room for improvement.
One of the best and least expensive way to improve your Cummins 5.9L is to add an aftermarket cold air intake system. Cold air intakes improve filtration, keeping harmful particulates from entering the engine, and they provide cooler air to the combustion chamber, which increases overall engine performance. The weakest link in the airflow chain is the restriction of airflow caused by stock air intakes. When considering adding a cold air intake, there are a multitude of choices out there. Here are our picks of 6 of the best.
Best Cold Air Intake for 5.9L Cummins – Top Picks:
|Banks 42766||K&N 57-1532||aFe Stage 2 Pro-5R||K&N 57-1525||aFe Power |
|aFe Power 51-80072|
|OEM Part Number||42766||57-1532||54-11342-1||57-1525||51-11342-1||51-80072|
|Torque Increase||No data||20.17 ft. lbs. of torque||27 ft. lbs. of torque||18.79 ft. lbs. of torque||27 ft. lbs. of torque||14 ft. lbs. of torque|
|Horsepower increase||No data||10.96 HP||14 HP||9.17 HP||14 HP||7 HP|
|Airflow increase||No data||up to 50%||105%||up to 50%||105%||88%|
|Filter Type||Reusable||Washable, reusable||Polyurethane, washable and reusable||Washable and reusable||Polyurethane, washable and|
|Polyurethane, washable and reusable|
|Vehicle applications year||2003-2007||2003-2007||2003-2009||1994-2002||2003-2009||2003-2009|
|Price||Find on Amazon||Find on Amazon||Find on Amazon||Find on Amazon||Find on Amazon||Find on Amazon|
4 Important Cold Air Intake Features
What differences can you expect by adding a cold air intake to your Cummins motor? Increased performance, better fuel economy, more power, and envy! Let’s point out the 4 main reasons for upgrading to an aftermarket cold air intake system.
An Aggressive Sound – an increased, more aggressive sound, will turn that beast of a Cummins engine into a roaring super beast. Who doesn’t want to hear that throaty rumble as you step on the gas? A good CAI system will add rumble to your RAM truck.
Best Cold Air Intake for Aggressive Sound: aFe Power Magnum FORCE 51-11342-1
Increased Power – installing a cold air intake system will add anywhere from 5-20 horsepower to that Cummins engine. The factory installed intake system is designed to produce the minimum acceptable level of acceleration and horsepower. Cost is always their determining factor. Saving a little money here and there makes Mr./Mrs. Plant Manager a happier person at the expense of better performance.
Best Cold Air Intake for Increase Power: aFe Stage 2 Pro-5R
Fuel Economy – with gas prices where they are, especially diesel fuel, improvements in fuel mileage can become a very big deal. Even a small improvement in MPG can help pay for installing a cold air intake system all by itself. Just by helping your diesel to breathe better, fuel economy will be increased.
Best Cold Air Intake for Fuel Economy: aFe Stage 2 Pro-5R
Less Maintenance – the filters included with cold air intake systems do a better job of keeping damaging particulates from entering the engine, but they are longer lasting and, many times, reusable. Recommended cleanings/replacements are somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000, miles.
Best Cold Air Intake for Reduced Maintenance: K&N 57-1532 or 57-1525
Cold Air Intake Reviews
This Banks system will give you less smoke, cooler air temperatures, and increased fuel mileage. If you drive for longer hours, temperature becomes an issue. The 42766 Monster Ram Intake will provide a fantastic cooling effect for your Cummins engine.
This intake also allows the turbo to spool up faster, eliminating turbo lag. It comes with a 5-year warranty.
- Great cooling effects
- Extremely durable
- Allows the turbo to spool up faster
- Provides 56% better airflow
- CARB compliant
- Plugs and other hardware of lower quality
- Slightly more difficult to install
- Rough castings
- Not as cold as other systems
This is an outstanding system from a reliable manufacture, the K&N 57-1532. With its large conical filter and its high-density polyethylene tube, this dyno-tested cold air intake is guaranteed to increase horsepower by providing 50% better airflow than the stock system that came from the factory. The crosslink nylon intake tube helps keep air temperatures cooler than metal tubes, improving engine performance.
The 57-1532 CAI requires no maintenance for up to 100,000 miles and installs in less than one hour with just basic hand tools. If K&N is the Official Air Filter of NASCAR, you can trust that their product will look and work great on your truck.
- Better throttle response
- 10-Year/Million Mile Warranty
- No ECU tuning required
- 50 State legal
- Heat shield quality less than perfect
- Not as loud as you would hope
aFe Stage 2 Pro-5R
The aFe Stage 2 is one of the highest quality cold air intake systems on the market. It not only adds horsepower to your 5.9L engine, it makes your turbo absolutely scream power.
This system is reported to increase airflow by a whopping 105% and uses high-temperature silicone couplings, quality from start to finish. The filter rating is 98.6% efficient, providing great protection from damaging particulates entering the engine. The system installs easily and fits perfectly.
- Reported 105% improvement in airflow
- Gains of up to 12HP
- Lightweight aluminum, black powder-coated heat shield
- Quality clamps and couplings included
- Not CARB exempt
- More expensive
This 57 series gen 2 intake system will increase your truck’s power by as much as 10%. It is street legal in all 50 states and comes with K&N’s 10-year/million mile warranty. You are guaranteed by K&N of improvements in power and torque. Add to that the fact that this system is legal in all 50 states.
- 50 State Legal
- Improves engine sounds
- Washable, reusable filter
- Ease of installation – one hour or less
- 10-Year/Million Mile Warranty
- More expensive than some systems
aFe Power Magnum FORCE 51-11342-1
This aFe intake has a non-oiled, 3 layer synthetic filter that is washable and reusable. It includes a one-piece, powder coated heat shield along with a molded polyurethane intake tube that is heat insulated.
The Power Magnum is reported to increase air outflow 105% compared to the stock air system, and produces 14 more horsepower. Many buyers found the installation slightly difficult and the installation instructions a bit vague.
- 50 State legal
- Turbo “whistle” sounds greatly improved
- Weighs 14 pounds
- Intake tube gets too hot to touch
- Lacks horsepower at low RPMs
- Tube rests on the oil filter
aFe Power Magnum FORCE 51-80072
Besides being 50 state legal, the Power Magnum Force 51-80072 increases horsepower by 7HP and delivers increased air outflow output by 88% over the stock system.
The air box is made of durable XLPE, and with a diamond plate pattern, it will look like it was build exclusively for your Ram HEMI. The air box and the intake tube are both heat soak resistant. The system is designed to install on the factory mounting locations.
- 50 State legal
- Improved turbo whistle
- Difficult installation – alignment problems
Summing It All Up
Not all cold air intakes are a good fit for every driving situation. Because they generally feed air from in front of the engine, the air will be cooler and provide a performance boost for your Cummins engine. The best CAI for your truck will depend on what you want from the intake. If a power boost is your goal, the aFe Stage 2 Pro-5R may be your answer (>>> Find on Amazon). If you are looking for long term value from a recognized leader in the industry, one of the K&N intakes will probably fit the bill for you.