Maximizing Performance - The Best Cold Air Intakes for Nissan 350Z

The Nissan 350Z, known for its stylish design and potent VQ35DE engine, has attracted car enthusiasts from across the globe since its debut in 2002. But for many Z33 owners, there's always a want to squeeze a little more power out of this exceptional machine. 

One of the easiest ways to do so? Installing a high-quality cold air intake. Often overlooked, this simple modification can make a profound difference in your 350Z's performance. By optimizing airflow to the engine, a cold air intake system can help your Nissan roar to life with more horsepower and that aggressive engine sound 350Z owners crave.

So if you looking for one of the easiest ways to add a little bump in terms of power under the hood of you 350Z keep on reading! This guide was created to help current and future Nissan 350Z owners find the best cold air intakes on the market today and what sets them apart. We’ll be covering what makes a great Nissan 350Z air intake, what to expect in terms of power and what options are available today. So buckle up as we jump into the world of Nissan 350Z cold air intakes!

Understanding Cold Air Intakes For The Nissan 350Z

Cold Air Intake Diagram

What is a Cold Air Intake System?

A cold air intake system is a performance upgrade, a 'lung' of sorts for your 350Z, that replaces your 350Z's stock intake system. The traditional intake system in most 350Zs is a simple box and tube assembly, often made from plastic, designed to draw air from the engine compartment to fuel combustion within the engine. Unfortunately, this air is usually hot, and hot air is less dense than cool air. Enter the cold air intake, a system designed to draw in cooler, denser air from outside the engine bay, often using a more direct and less restrictive pathway.

How Does a Cold Air Intake System Work?

The mechanics of a cold air intake are quite simple. By relocating the air filter outside of the engine compartment, the system can draw in cooler air, which contains more oxygen molecules per unit volume than the warmer air in your engine bay. This cooler air is then funneled directly into the engine's combustion chamber. With more oxygen available, the engine can combust the fuel more efficiently, generating more power and torque. This process also often improves throttle response and fuel efficiency and generally gives your 350Z that distinctive growl during hard acceleration that can be heard inside and outside of your car.

The Benefits of Cold Air Intakes For Your Nissan 350Z

Installing a cold air intake in your Nissan 350Z has several significant benefits. First and foremost, it improves engine performance. By supplying more cool air to the engine, a cold air intake allows for more powerful combustion, increasing horsepower and torque. You'll likely notice a more responsive throttle and greater pull during acceleration. But the benefits aren't solely performance-related. Cold air intakes can improve fuel economy by making the combustion process more efficient, enabling you to get more miles from each gallon of gas. They also add a sporty engine note that many 350Z owners enjoy. Finally, many cold air intakes feature reusable filters, reducing waste and saving you money in the long run.

Considerations When Buying a Nissan 350Z Cold Air Intake

Stillen Dual Cold Air Intake For Nissan 350Z

Key Factors When Selecting the Best Cold Air Intake For Your 350Z

When selecting a cold air intake for your Nissan 350Z, several factors should be considered during your research process. Your Z’s year and engine type will dictate which cold air intakes are compatible with your car. The intake system's design and material construction can also affect performance. Metal intakes, for instance, may heat up more quickly than their plastic counterparts, potentially decreasing the amount of cool air supplied to the engine. The brand's reputation for quality and customer service should also be considered. Researching reviews and user experiences can provide valuable insights.

Choosing The Right Cold Air Intake For Your 350Z

It's crucial to note that Nissan used two different engines in the 350Z over its production years: the VQ35DE from 2003-2006 and the VQ35HR from 2007-2009. These engines have different intake designs and thus require different cold air intakes for optimal performance. The VQ35DE typically benefits from single-path intakes, while the VQ35HR, with its dual throttle bodies, often sees the best performance gains from a dual-path intake system. Make sure you select a cold air intake designed for your 350Z’s specific engine model.

The Best Nissan 350Z Cold Air Intakes For The VQ35DE

Now that we’ve covered the basics, lets talk about the top cold air intakes engineered specifically for the VQ35DE engine, found in 2003-2006 Nissan 350Z.  These air intakes from a variety of notable manufacturers promise improved engine performance, delivering increased efficiency, power, and throttle response. Whether your aiming to maximize your engine's potential or optimize its existing performance, these hand-picked intakes for the VQ35DE engine can provide a notably improved driving experience in your 350Z..

Stillen Hi-Flow Cold Air Intake

Stillen Hi-Flow Cold Air Intake Nissan 350Z
Stillen Hi-Flow Cold Air Intake

With its hallmark design and high-quality build, the Stillen Hi-Flow Cold Air Intake is a top-of-the-line choice for improving your VQ35DE engine's performance. This intake kit is known for providing noteable horsepower and torque gains, facilitated by its smooth surface tubing construction. The kit includes a genuine K&N air filter with a venturi ring, encased in a polyurethane heat shield. The Stillen intake's design accelerates air intake speed using a venturi effect, thereby increasing the engine's efficiency and power output by providing an optimal air/fuel ratio. You'll also notice an improvement in power and throttle response throughout the entire RPM range, offering a aggressive but pleasing induction noise from the high flow intake, all while ensuring the a great dollar-per-horsepower investment.

Injen Cold Air Intake

Injen Cold Air Intake Nissan 350Z
Injen Cold Air Intake

Improve your VQ35DE’s performance with the Injen Cold Air Intake, Injen’s premier 350Z intake from their SP series of air intakes. This intake uses a patented tuning process that involves MegaRam (MR) Technology, allowing for a noticeable bump in power across the powerband. The 6061-T6 aluminum intake tube provides a smooth path for efficient airflow while ensuring impressive power gains and maintaining a safe air-fuel ratio. Alongside the power improvement, this Injen cold air intake is equipped with a fully serviceable Injen SuperNano-Web dry air filter, offering a massive filter surface area for superior airflow and filtration. You’ll definitely appreciate the aggressive and throaty tone this intake provides, transforming how your Z sounds under load and adding a bit of bling to your 350Z’s engine bay.

HPS Shortram Air Intake

2003-2006 Nissan 350Z Shortram Air Intake w/ Heat Shield by HPS
HPS Shortram Air Intake

The HPS Shortram Air Intake  is an excellent choice if your looking for more power without installing a full cold air system. This air intake features a free-flowing 3-inch mandrel-bent aluminum tube induction system for performance gains and improved throttle response. The heavy-duty powder-coated steel heat shield integrates seamlessly with the factory air inlet to direct cold air to the filter for optimal flow. The HPS Shortram intake is made from lightweight mandrel-bent aluminum alloy for excellent heat dissipation and durability. The HPS Shortram Intake also includes high-temperature reinforced silicone hoses and stainless steel t-bolt clamps, ensuring reliability even in extreme driving conditions.While not the most comprehensive solution for all out power, the HPS Shortram Air Intake is definitely worth considering if your on a budget and at looking for a easy power increase why still retaining some factory components.

aFe Takeda Stage 2 Cold Air Intake

aFe Takeda Intake Stage-2 Nissan 350Z 03-06
aFe Takeda Stage 2 Cold Air Intake

The aFE Takeda Stage 2 Cold Air Intake is a high-performance intake system that provides significant horsepower and torque gains compared to the stock air intake. The aFe Takeda Intake is another cold aiir intake system that uses the front of the stock air box to ensure a steady supply of cold air to the filter ensuring its effectiveness. Made from lightweight tubing for maximum airflow, it features a large 360-degree high flow Pro DRY S air filter that is washable and requires no oils. The entire setup, including all tubing, filters, couplings, and an easy-to-install wrinkle-black air box cover, is designed for a quick installation that delivers dyno proven results that you’ll definitely feel on the road.

K&N FIPK Shortram Intake

K&N 03-05 Nissan 350z V6-3.5L Performance Intake Kit
K&N FIPK Shortram Intake

Renowned for its durability and performance boost, the K&N FIPK Cold Air Intake features a high-density polyethylene tube that increases the volume of airflow to your engine, providing a guaranteed increase in horsepower and torque. The conical High-Flow Air Filter is washable and reusable, allowing you to go up to 100,000 miles between filter services under normal highway driving conditions. A custom heat shield helps protect intake air from high engine bay temperatures, and the entire system can typically be installed in under and hour, making for easy bolt on power that any Nissan 350Z owner can appreciate.

Volant Pro5 Closed Air Box Intake

Volant 03-06 Nissan 350Z 3.5 V6 Pro5 Closed Box Air
Volant Pro5 Closed Air Box Intake

Engineered for 350Z owners that may need a fully sealed air intake, the Volant Pro5 Closed Air Box Intake offers superior filtration compared to other intakes on the market while increasing overall horsepower. It features a cross-link polyethylene box and air duct, designed to give your VQ35DE more cool air and protect the filter from engine heat, moisture, dust, and debris. The Volant Filters with PowerCore Filtration Technology are manufactured by Donaldson to Volant's specifications, offering efficient filtration up to 99.97% without sacrificing airflow. The Volant Pro5 Closed Air Box is a great addition to any 350Z’s engine bay and is a sure fire way to increase power without having to worry about potential issues down the road.

AEM Cold Air Intake

AEM 350z Silver Cold Air Intake
AEM Cold Air Intake

The AEM Cold Air Intake offers significant power gains, excellent air filtration, and a sleek design that replaces your factory air intake. It outperforms comparable intake systems on the market and is C.A.R.B. exempt, making it 50-state legal. Unlike other intakes for the 1st gen 350Z, the AEM intake is a true cold air intake replacing the entire factory system. The one-piece, four-layer, cotton-gauze AEM air filter simplifies installation and boosts performance with an exclusive air horn design, ensuring that your VQ35DE will get the power it needs to continue running at a high level on the street or at the track.

The Best Nissan 350Z Cold Air Intakes For The VQ35HR

Unleashing the potential of the VQ35HR engine doesn't have to be a daunting task. An essential first step in unlocking its power is by equipping it with the perfect cold air intake system. This section will guide you through some of the best cold air intakes available specifically for the VQ35HR found in 2007-2009 Nissan 350Z. Each product mentioned here promises significant horsepower gains and impressive engine performance, all while ensuring optimal airflow for your VQ35HR engine. Let's explore these solutions to revamp your ride's power output and fuel efficiency.

Stillen Hi-Flow Ultra Long Dual Tube Air Intakes 

Stillen Hi-Flow Ultra Long Dual Tube Air Intakes - Nissan 350Z 2007-2009
Stillen Hi-Flow Ultra Long Dual Tube Air Intakes 

The Stillen Hi-Flow Dual Air Intake offers impressive horsepower and torque improvements compared to the stock intake system. It features ultra long mandrel bent polished aluminum intake tubes which provide low restriction, offering a dyno proven 14WHP & 6WTQ gain for VQ35HR engines. It also uses a two high quality washable dry filter which are easy to clean and don’t need to be re-oiled. The installation requires no custom modifications, except for the Nismo models which require H-brace removal. This product is CARB exempt, ensuring hassle free use for those that have their Z33’s inspected yearly for compliance.

aFe Takeda Stage 2 Cold Air Intakes

aFe Takeda Stage 2 Cold Air Intakes

Takeda Stage 2 air intakes are lightweight and offer a performance boost along with an aggressive engine sound. This aFe air intake uses a 360-degree high flow Pro DRY S air filter for maximum flow and convenience. No oiling is needed after cleaning and installation can be done in 40 minutes or less, making this an easy project as soon as it arrives at your door.

K&N Dual Typhoon Short Ram Intakes

K&N Dual Typhoon Short Ram Intakes Nissan 350Z
K&N Dual Typhoon Short Ram Intakes

The K&N Dual Typhoon Air Intake is designed to reduce air flow restriction, allowing your engine to inhale more air, leading to a more usable power and more acceleration throughout the engine’s RPM range. This K&N intake scomes with two K&N high-flow air filters and heat shields. The intake tubes have an attractive silver powder-coat finish, adding a new look to your engine bay. And the best part? These air filters can be used for up to 100,000 miles before servicing is needed, which is as simple as a wash and reoil!

AEM Dual Cold Air Intakes

AEM Dual Cold Air Intakes Nissan 350Z
AEM Dual Cold Air Intakes

The AEM Dual Cold Air Intakes offers significant horsepower and torque gains by replacing your 350Z’s restrictive factory air filters and air intake housings. It has oversized AEM Dryflow synthetic washable air filters ensuring optimal air flow. The intakes tubes are made from mandrel-bent aluminum featuring a durable gunmetal gray powder coated finish, adding a nice touch to the engine bay. Like other VQ35HR dual intakes, the AEM Dual Intake can be installed in an afternoon with a set of simple handtools and some DIY skills, making this an excellent choice for any 350Z owner.

Injen Dual Cold Air Intakes

Injen Dual Cold Air Intakes Nissan 350Z
Injen Dual Cold Air Intakes

The Injen Dual Cold Air Intake is known for its notable increase in horsepower and aggressive engine sound. The system features Injen’s patented tuning process, including MegaRam and Air Fusion technologies, allowing for a significant increase in airflow compared to stock. The intake’s tubes are made from 6061-T6 aluminum and the system includes a fully serviceable Injen SuperNano-Web dry air filter. If you looking for an instant power gain without a tune, we definitely recommend grabbing a set of Injen Dual Intakes for you 2nd Gen 350Z!

Installation and Maintenance Tips

When it comes to the Nissan 350Z, most cold air intake systems are designed to be user-friendly and are relatively easy to install and service yourself. You'll typically need a few basic tools, like a screwdriver, pliers, and an socket wrench during the installation. Installing a 350Z intake involves removing the stock intake system, installing the new cold air intake, and connecting it to your Z's MAF sensor. Each cold air intake system should come with specific installation instructions from the manufacturer. 

When it comes to maintenance, it's critical to keep your cold air intake system clean to ensure optimal performance. A dirty or clogged filter can restrict airflow, negating the benefits of the intake system. Most manufacturers recommend checking the filter every 15,000 to 30,000 miles, but driving conditions like dust or dirt roads might necessitate more frequent checks.

What To Look For When Buying A 350Z Air Intake

When evaluating your options for a cold air intake for your 350Z, you should consider not only the upfront cost but also potential long-term savings. A more expensive intake may offer better performance or durability, saving you money over time.

We also recommend checking for information about dyno horsepower gains, and to consider the intake's material and design, as these can affect the longevity and performance of the system. 

Read customer reviews and ratings to get a sense of real-world performance and customer satisfaction. Lastly, consider the manufacturer's warranty and customer service reputation. These factors can make a significant difference if you encounter problems down the road.

OverRev’s Nissan 350Z Air Intake Guide

Modified Black Nissan 350Z
"Looking twice" by MIDWST.BLUR is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Optimizing your Nissan 350Z's performance is about more than just power—it's about creating a 350Z that reflects your passion for driving. By understanding the role of a cold air intake and the factors to consider when selecting one, you can make an informed decision that will improve your driving experience, improve power, and ensure you're unlocking the full potential of your 350Z.\*

Looking for more Nissan 350Z content? Be sure to check our our completely Nissan 350Z tuning guide, our Nissan 350Z 

Nissan 350Z Cold Air Intake FAQ

Is a Cold Air Intake Worth It for a Nissan 350Z? 

Absolutely. By increasing engine efficiency and power, a cold air intake can significantly improve your 350Z's performance.

How Much Power Can a Cold Air Intake Add to My Nissan 350Z? 

The power gains can vary based on the specific intake and your 350Z, but you can generally expect an increase of between 5 to 20 horsepower.

Does a Cold Air Intake Improve Fuel Efficiency in a Nissan 350Z? 

Yes, by making combustion more efficient, a cold air intake can help improve your 350Z's fuel economy.

Is It Difficult to Install a Cold Air Intake on a Nissan 350Z? 

While it does require some mechanical knowledge, most cold air intakes are designed for relatively simple installation with basic tools.

How Often Should I Clean or Replace My Cold Air Intake Filter? 

Check your filter every 15,000 to 30,000 miles under normal driving conditions. If you often drive in dusty or dirty conditions, you may need to check and clean it more frequently.

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