S550 Mustang Cold Air Intake Guide

S550 Mustang Cold Air Intake Guide

Last Updated March 26, 2024 | C.J. Tragakis

For the 2015+ Mustang, both the Coyote and EcoBoost engines can be given more air than the restrictive factory set-up allows. This is easy to accomplish by installing a performance cold air intake. These aftermarket upgrades give your engine more air to burn. The air is cooler and denser because it’s drawn farther away from the engine. Other benefits of a cold air intake include a nicer look under the hood and more sound from the air being sucked in.

Cold air intakes also often come with a reusable air filter. These reusable air filters can be cleaned to save you money on replacements when they become clogged with debris.

S550 Cold Air Intake Fitment

You can’t use GT and EcoBoost cold air intakes interchangeably, so be sure to pick the right one. Keep an eye on model year compatibility as well. Most EcoBoost cold air intakes are good for model years 2015+. However, the Coyote engine in the GT was reworked for the 2018 model. Therefore, some GT intakes are only compatible with 2015-2017, while others are only designed for 2018+ models.

Tune vs No-Tune Cold Air Intakes

Some cold air intakes can be bolted on with no changes, while others will require a tune. Though an ECU tune is required, they’ll still work with all other factory components. By themselves cold air intakes may only give you a few extra horsepower. However, when tuned, the potential power gains can easily reach 20 hp or more. You can also add a tune to intakes that don’t require one and still see better power.

A cold air intake will need a tune if it has a larger sized intake tube. The factory mass airflow sensor can only handle so much air before it’s thrown out of spec. The ECU tuner will adjust your engine’s settings to the appropriate air-fuel ratio. Check out our tune vs no tune comparison table for an in-depth look at the differences.

Regardless of whether the intake is tune or no-tune, installation will be virtually identical: It’s a very easy bolt-on project. Check out this video below to get an idea of the process.

No-Tune S550 Cold Air Intakes

There are a number of no-tune cold air intakes that you can bolt onto your S550 Mustang. They’ll work just fine with the factory settings. Simply turn on your Mustang after installation and you’re ready to go. You can always add a tune later on if you want. For some products, a tune is recommended but not required.

The K&N intake for the GT provides gains of up to 18.68 hp and 11.41 lb/ft of torque. Also check out Corsa’s option, which uses a closed air box design to minimize excess heat.

For the EcoBoost, Roush’s intake is designed for better efficiency and throttle response. Plus, the see-through lens will really dress up your engine bay.

Tune-Required Cold Air Intakes

It might seem more restrictive to have a cold air intake that requires a tune, but it opens the door for more power. It’s important that you do not run these products on factory settings. You can run an “out-of-the-box” tune or select a custom one. Since your Mustang’s computer can be reflashed or reset, you can always return to the factory settings.

Check out the JLT tuned option, which boasts some of the highest reported gains. PMAS is newer to the game and offers a variety of intakes. Some require a tune, while others strongly recommend one for optimal results.

Roush’s intake has a unique feature. It includes a spacer that lets the intake work with factory settings. You can easily remove that spacer to increase the airflow. At that point, you’ll need a tune, but it will result in a bigger increase in power.

Tuner Options for Your Cold Air Intake

Tunes not only change how your engine processes the air inflow, but many other parameters as well. You can change idle RPM, shift light timing, and much more. These don’t all relate to the cold air intake, but can offer better performance and custom settings for how your car drives.

Below are some of the best Mustang tuner options. You can also check out our full selection of electronic tuners for your Mustang.

Next Step: Exhaust Upgrades

In addition to your cold air intake and tune, aftermarket exhaust mods will also help your Mustang breathe easier. This means better performance, not to mention a louder exhaust note with better sound.

New headers start at the source, and are regarded as the most important exhaust components for performance. There won’t be much of a change to your Mustang’s sound, but you’ll get the biggest gains in horsepower.

Cat-back kits offer a nice bump in power and give you improved sound as well. You can also select different finishes for your new exhaust tips. Check out our S550 GT exhaust guide or EcoBoost exhaust guide to find the best exhaust upgrade for you.

We recommend working back to front whenever possible, especially if you're getting new headers. This means starting with a cat-back system followed by headers. Then, install your cold air intake, and finish off with a custom tune.

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This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.