S&B vs. Afe Cold Air Intake: Which CAI is Better for Your Car?

So, you searched for “S&B vs. AFE cold air intake” from the confusion to select between them. Many may even wonder what these things are and why I should care. Cold air intake (CAI) is a helpful car component to draw more air to the combustion chamber. And the brands S&B and AFE are the most relevant names when you want CAIs.

S&B Filters (since 1975) is indeed a pioneer in producing performance filters in the automotive industry. It makes different vehicle kits and components, especially for off-road light trucks. Similarly, AFE (short for Advanced Flow Engineering) has served quality products since 1999. This brand focuses on producing high-performance aftermarket products for vehicles. Besides, you will love to use AFE cold air intake.

If you want to buy S&B or AFE CAIs for your vehicle, read the whole writing! I have added lots of useful information separating these two cold air intake brands.

S&B Cold Air Intake: An Overview

S&B Filters – This company is famous for serving the market with performance-boosting cold air intake systems. If you love to use American-made products, you may go with S&B. Once you start using the CAIs from this company, you will get unmatched quality, fit, and finish (source).

Features and Specifications of S&B Cold Air Intake:

The main aim (as I have discovered) of S&B Filters is to design CAIs that maximize airflow and filtration. Likewise, their cold air intake provides improved engine performance and protection. Some notable features and specs of the CAI include:

Airflow and Filtration

S&B Cold Air Intakes feature a highly efficient air filter. It allows maximum airflow besides providing excellent filtration. Surprisingly, I have seen on their website that these CAIs can enhance airflow better than the stock system of your car.

Filter Variations

The filters used in S&B cold air intakes are of two choices. You can find them in oiled cotton and dry extendable filter options (source). Hence, the cleanable cotton media has eight layers. But don’t worry, as both filters offer the same performance. If you want to clean the filter, go for cotton media; otherwise, select dry one.

Top-notch Silicone Rubber

Another great feature is using premium silicone rubber for making air filters, couplers, and tube seals. So, there is no tear and wear, as rubber has remarkable tear strength. Besides, S&B Filters claim that their rubber can bear up to 400°F temperature.

Non-Sliding Filters and Couplers

The silicone filters used in S and B CAIs have high-friction surfaces and no oily residue. So, the components like filters and couplers do not slide off the tube from their position.


Buying S&B cold air intake will give you a fully enclosed one-piece air box (source). It will protect the air filter from dirt and debris. Also, it can dissipate excessive engine heat. The large clear lid allows you to monitor the filter conditions quickly.

Sealed Housing

The intakes from S&B Filters have sealed housing. It prevents the hot air of the engine from accessing the intake system. The engine will get a steady yet consistent flow of cooler and denser air for this. As a result, you will get better performance and fuel efficiency.


The price of S&B cold air intake differs, but obviously within anyone’s budget. According to Real Truck and NAPA Auto Parts, you can purchase them by paying $188 – $699.

Benefits and limitations of S&B Cold Air Intake:

In this part, I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of S&B cold air intake.

Benefits of S&B Cold Air Intake:

  • All the CAIs from the brand can optimize airflow. So, your vehicle engine can breathe easier. It provides enhanced power and torque output.
  • Is your existing CAI using too much fuel to produce more power? Try S&B cold air intake! It optimizes the air-to-fuel ratio by providing the engine a steady flow of cool air.
  • The users who have already used the S&B CAI found that they get a deeper and more aggressive engine sound. And they loved it!
  • The manufacturer designs the cold air intake for each vehicle, make and model. So, there is no problem with fit optimization.
  • You can install it quickly with minimum effort (approximately 30 minutes). The unit comes with proper instructions and necessary hardware (source).  
  • Any products you buy from S&B authorized dealers have a “Million Mile Limited Warranty.” The manufacturer is always ready to replace if you get the product (like CAI) defective or non-functional (source).

Limitations of S&B Cold Air Intake:

  • Like other CAIs, this cold air intake has a risk of water ingestion during heavy rain or water crossings. So, you need to follow the instructions from S&B Filters. You may also take precautions to prevent any unexpected water damage to the engine.
  • Indeed, the CAIs from this brand are for specific vehicle makes and models. However, there can be some compatibility limitations for specific vehicles or engine configs.

AFE Cold Air Intake: An Overview

If you read the AFE cold air intake reviews online, you will see how respected this brand is! You can get versatile CAIs from them to boost a car’s HP, torque, and fuel efficiency. Advanced technology and engineering help to produce products with innovative features and robust construction (source).

Features and Specifications of AFE Cold Air Intake

Patented Inverted Top Filters

The CAIs from AFE have unique features like patented inverted top filters. They can maximize airflow and enhance the surface area for improved filtration.

Quality Intake Air Tube

The length and geometry of the AFE intake air tube provide excellent efficiency. In these CAIs, the brand uses heat shields and better materials.


You can get four major types of CAIs: Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 2 Si, and Momentum (source).

  • Stage 1 uses a stock intake tube and conical air filters in 3 media choices.
  • Stage 2 has precision-designed roto-molded intake tubes.
  • Stage 2 Si has unique airflow openings and roto-molded or aluminum covers.
  • Momentum has a larger filter and auxiliary air scoop.


The types I have already discussed have differences in their torque output (20-60 lbs. ft).

  • If you prefer Stage 1 AFE CAIs, you will get up to 20 lbs. ft. torque output.
  • Stage 2 enhances the torque output for up to 60 lbs. ft.
  • For Stage 2 Si users, the output will get slightly down to 40 lbs. ft. maximum.
  • Momentum CAIs provide up to 60 lbs. ft. torque output.


You will experience different horsepower output by installing those 4 types of CAIs like torque output.

  • Stage 1 offers 10HP, and Stage 2 Si offers 19 HP torque boost.
  • Stage 2 and Momentum offer up to 40 HP torque output.


Like S&B Filters, AFE sells its CAIS through different marketplaces and authorized dealers. However, the cost may be slightly higher, starting from $250 (source). You may check other marketplaces, too for better understanding.

Benefits and Limitations of AFE Cold Air Intake

You will get some benefits by using AFE cold air intake. Besides them, I will also share the limitations of these products.

Benefits of AFE Cold Air Intake include:

  • Many users report noticeable HP, torque, and throttle response improvements after installing an AFE cold air intake.
  • Like S&B, you can also buy CAIs with both dry and oiled filter options. So you can choose the best fit for your preferences and driving conditions.
  • Though I cannot tell you the exact source, I have found that AFE chooses high-quality materials to produce their CAIs. It ensures longevity and smooth performance.
  • Installation of AFE cold air intakes is effortless for their one-piece sealed housing with mounting points. You do not need to drill or cut anything.
  • Any of those 4 types of CAIs, you will get significant enhancements in horsepower and torque output. Yet it may vary depending on your car’s age, maintenance, and modifications.
  • Installation time is another benefit you can get from these CAIs. For instance, Stage 1 requires only 15-45 minutes for installation. Stage 2 and Momentum may take a maximum of 60 minutes.

Limitations of AFE Cold Air Intake

  • The cost of AFE cold air intake can be an issue for some users, particularly if they have a tight budget. The average price is around $440.
  • Each model of AFE CAIs provides a different performance boost. You should read the reviews of particular products from authentic sources.

Conclusion: Which One Will Be Better?

So, my discussion on “S&B vs. AFE cold air intake” ends here. I hope you have read the whole article. Thus, I have tried to explain both brands in detail. You have learned about the features, facilities, and limitations of these cold air intakes. Now, the confusing part is choosing between these two.

You can choose S&B cold air intakes for the choice of materials and construction. Also, these products are more affordable and easier to install than their AFE counterparts. Another thing you will appreciate is its precise warranty.

On the other hand, AFE cold air intakes are suitable for variations, clarity of HP, and torque boost. I loved the descriptions of each model they presented on their website. I hope these items will instantly meet your vehicle requirements.

So, the final opinion is you can choose any of them. But always keep your needs and compatibility in mind.

Thanks for coming here!

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