Are Cold Air Intakes Illegal In California? (2022 Updated)

Many people are curious if cold air intake is illegal in California. In this article, we’ll be talking about that. Let us get started.

So are cold air intakes illegal in California? The answer is yes. Cold air intake is illegal in California.

If you are currently residing in Georgia or you might be planning to move into the state, you have to follow a lot of rules and laws for that specific place. And you have to follow those laws, and you have to make sure that the modifications on your vehicle are legal in every state. Modifications on every vehicle are already a part of integral parts of the vehicle’s culture. 

It is also tough to go outside every day and not see one vehicle that has not received any modifications in the automotive aftermarket world. Modifications of the vehicle are prevalent, but it does not mean that all of them are legal. In the aftermarket industry that has been evolving through the years now, specific modifications have begun skirting the state and federal laws of the US. 

Some measures were taken up to curtail a lot of these modifications. Unfortunately, some have become illegal in some states, and others have become illegal. And so, if you are planning to install a cold air intake or strap-on lightbars on your vehicle, you have to consider if such modifications are legal and illegal in your state. 

So let us learn more about this. Let us start.

Are Cold Air Intakes Illegal In California

Are Cold Air Intakes Legal In California?

A cold air intake is a very famous engine upgrade. This is because it has eased in terms of installation. It also has a very affordable cost and a very noticeable performance gain. 

And with all the aftermarket engine components, all the cold air intake is not made equal. Not all of them are made street legal too. The California law says that to make a cold air intake legal on the streets of California, it should have a CARB EO exempt number. 

Most of the stock air intakes are drawing air from the inside of the engine bay. This is where the air temperature is running extremely hot. The cold air intake sometimes draws air from the outside of the engine bay. 

This is where the air temperatures are more relaxed. The cooler air means denser air. 

This means that it will carry more oxygen. In addition to that, the more air that can be crammed into an engine, the bigger the band will be created, resulting in more power.

List Of Legal Cold Air Intakes In California

Unfortunately, there is no list of cold air intakes in California. The intake system is legal for street use in most states, but it is not legal in the streets of California.

Can Cold Air Intakes Be Shipped To California?

All the K&N series intakes for North American vehicles are receiving CARB EO numbers, and they are street legal in fifty states. There are some intake systems that we are selling in the beginning with the prefixes 63, 69, 77, and RK but are not legal to use in California. 

A cold air intake is just a small investment with a big payoff. A cold air intake can provide a decent horsepower boost for a small investment.

Why Are Some Cold Air Intakes Illegal?

They are illegal because of the California Clean Air Act. This act prohibits alteration or modification to the stock air and emissions equipment provided with the vehicle. 

What Car Mods Are Illegal In California?

If you are a self-identified auto enthusiast, you might have a major crush on vehicle modifications. But most of the sought car modifications are illegal in many cities, especially in California. So here are the vehicle modifications that are illegal in California.

1. Modification Of Your Exhaust

You might want to remove the mufflers or silencers to silence your vehicle presence, but you are prohibited from modifying your exhaust in California. You can be fined right on the spot, and it will increase the probability of a trip to the bureau of automotive repair.

2. Installation Of Window Tint That Is Very Dark

A dark luxury window is a sought-after modification for your vehicle. But it is a dangerous change. It can affect your visibility and can put you to harm. According to the laws of1010, the windshield and front windows will need a visible light transmittance or VLT of at least seventy percent.

3. Application Of Red, Blue, Or Amber Window Tint

A black vehicle with a red window tint might look good, but it is not permitted. This limitation is applied in combination with the seventy percent VLT requirement. And this is the reason why you cannot find any auto glass specialist who agrees with your vehicle windows.

4. Too Much Bright Underflow

An underflow light might look good, but it can be too bright. For example, it can emit a diffused and non glaring light of 0.05 candela per square inch of an area. And if the vehicle’s neon underflow is too bright, you will not be allowed to drive on it. 

5. Installation Of Red Lights On The Front

If you are planning to do some modifications to your grille or you want to enhance your underglow neon lights, you have to make sure that you are not adding a crimson light to the front. This is because the red light is in front of your vehicle.

6. Additional TV Screen On The Side Of The Driver

California law does not allow you to place a TV screen in direct view of the driver. This is a technical requirement. 

7. Increasing The Vehicle Height Over The Certain Limits

You must be aware that the maximum frame eight you have to achieve for a passenger vehicle is 27 hours. This can be changed on the gross weight of the vehicle.

8. Making Engine Modification

To improve the air quality in California, they control any engine modification to regulate the emissions. So if you do an engine modification, it will improve the engine’s performance.

9. Hanging Items From The Rearview Mirror

Any minor modifications that will obstruct your road view are a cause for alarm. It is also distracting if you have a dangling air freshener in your rearview mirror.


People are curious if cold air intake is illegal in California. The answer is yes. Cold air intake is illegal in California. 

There are also a lot of car modifications that are illegal in California. If you reside here, you should be able to know which are illegal modifications so that you will know which one to do and which not to do.



Image credits – Canva

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My name is Hank, and I've been in the automotive industry for 27 years. I've been working in my own auto repair shop for the last 13 years, and now I want to help you here, on my blog. Let me know if you have any questions. Read more