The first Cummins-powered Ram was launched in the year 1989, a solid thirty years ago. The 5.9-liter engine continued to power Ram trucks until the late 2000s. And while it’s not the latest engine out there, that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of modification choices for your prized possession. In our latest feature, we’ve included some examples of what could be the best cold air intake for 5.9 Cummins for you. Everyone wants their truck to be cool, but with cooler air, you’re guaranteed improved performance for this hugely loved truck.

Before going further, let’s first clear a few basics about cold air intakes. The intake kits we’ve featured here include a new intake, a filter, relevant piping, among other things. While the intake is, of course, different from the one your truck gets from the factory, the filter type can be chosen depending on your requirements — and the area you’re likely to use the truck in. 

In addition to that, there are also sales restrictions with certain models due to their lack of CARB exemption. CARB is California’s way of dealing with automotive pollution. If a product isn’t CARB exempt, not only is its sale invalid and illegal in the state but so is driving a truck fitted with the product. All the cold air intake models featured here have their CARB status mentioned, to make it easier for you to choose.

Our Recommendations

Preview
Best All-Around
S&B Filters 75-5094D Cold Air Intake For 2003-2007 Dodge Ram Cummins 5.9L (Dry Extendable Filter)
Budget Pick
aFe Power Magnum FORCE 54-10412 Dodge Diesel Trucks 03-07 L6-5.9L (td) Performance Intake System (Oiled, 5-Layer Filter)
For Power Gains
K&N Cold Air Intake Kit with Washable Air Filter:  2003-2007 Dodge (Ram 2500, Ram 3500) 5.9L L6 Diesel, Black HDPE Tube with Red Oiled Filter, 57-1532
The Worth-It Splurge
K&N 71-1532 Blackhawk Induction Air Intake System
The Tried and True
Banks 42145 Ram Air Intake System
Name
S&B Filters 75-5094D Cold Air Intake For 2003-2007 Dodge Ram Cummins 5.9L (Dry Extendable Filter)
aFe Power Magnum FORCE 54-10412 Dodge Diesel Trucks 03-07 L6-5.9L (td) Performance Intake System (Oiled, 5-Layer Filter)
K&N Cold Air Intake Kit with Washable Air Filter: 2003-2007 Dodge (Ram 2500, Ram 3500) 5.9L L6 Diesel, Black HDPE Tube with Red Oiled Filter, 57-1532
K&N 71-1532 Blackhawk Induction Air Intake System
Banks 42145 Ram Air Intake System
Our Rating
Price
$299.00
$258.20
$246.99
$313.99
$318.88
Prime
-
CARB exempt
Claimed Power Gain
Alternative Filters available
Best All-Around
Preview
S&B Filters 75-5094D Cold Air Intake For 2003-2007 Dodge Ram Cummins 5.9L (Dry Extendable Filter)
Name
S&B Filters 75-5094D Cold Air Intake For 2003-2007 Dodge Ram Cummins 5.9L (Dry Extendable Filter)
Our Rating
Price
$299.00
Prime
-
CARB exempt
Claimed Power Gain
Alternative Filters available
Budget Pick
Preview
aFe Power Magnum FORCE 54-10412 Dodge Diesel Trucks 03-07 L6-5.9L (td) Performance Intake System (Oiled, 5-Layer Filter)
Name
aFe Power Magnum FORCE 54-10412 Dodge Diesel Trucks 03-07 L6-5.9L (td) Performance Intake System (Oiled, 5-Layer Filter)
Our Rating
Price
$258.20
Prime
CARB exempt
Claimed Power Gain
Alternative Filters available
For Power Gains
Preview
K&N Cold Air Intake Kit with Washable Air Filter:  2003-2007 Dodge (Ram 2500, Ram 3500) 5.9L L6 Diesel, Black HDPE Tube with Red Oiled Filter, 57-1532
Name
K&N Cold Air Intake Kit with Washable Air Filter: 2003-2007 Dodge (Ram 2500, Ram 3500) 5.9L L6 Diesel, Black HDPE Tube with Red Oiled Filter, 57-1532
Our Rating
Price
$246.99
Prime
CARB exempt
Claimed Power Gain
Alternative Filters available
The Worth-It Splurge
Preview
K&N 71-1532 Blackhawk Induction Air Intake System
Name
K&N 71-1532 Blackhawk Induction Air Intake System
Our Rating
Price
$313.99
Prime
CARB exempt
Claimed Power Gain
Alternative Filters available
The Tried and True
Preview
Banks 42145 Ram Air Intake System
Name
Banks 42145 Ram Air Intake System
Our Rating
Price
$318.88
Prime
CARB exempt
Claimed Power Gain
Alternative Filters available

 

Best All-Around: S&B Filters Cold Air Intake for Dodge Ram Cummins 5.9L (Dry Extendable)

Sale
S&B Filters 75-5094D Cold Air Intake For 2003-2007 Dodge Ram Cummins 5.9L (Dry Extendable Filter)
24 Reviews
S&B Filters 75-5094D Cold Air Intake For 2003-2007 Dodge Ram Cummins 5.9L (Dry Extendable Filter)
  • 38.02% More Airflow & 99.68% Efficiency Rating. Tested To The Internationally Accepted ISO 5011 Standard
  • Designed To Avoid Check Engine Lights
  • Premium Silicone Parts Last Longer And Look Better
  • Extend the life of our dry filters: Using compressed air, blow off the outside of the dry filter keeping the air nozzle moving and no closer than 6 inches to the media. Replacement Filter: KF-1035 & Filter Wrap: WF-1023
  • Street Legal in All US States, CARB Exempt ID: D-590-19

Compatible with Ram trucks made between 2003 and 2007, the S&B Filters Cold Air Intake makes for a good choice. It’s made of high-quality silicone parts, so the kit is made to last long. The filter, on the other hand, is a dry extendable type, so you’ll need to replace it at some point. If you’re looking at a cotton cleanable filter, S&B makes that as well, and we’ve included the link to that at the end of the description.

Improved airflow and fewer chances of engine codes

There’s a lot that works in favor of the 5.9 Cummins cold air intake, including a 38.02 percent claimed improvement in airflow. That might not help with an outright power increase, but with increased airflow, the truck’s bound to be more responsive. And that thankfully doesn’t come at the cost of the check engine light flashing non-stop as you drive.

It’s also CARB exempt, which means you can legally buy and use it on a street vehicle in all states in the US including California. The fit is good, it’s easy to install, and most importantly, it further improves the induction noise of the truck.

What do we think of it?

It’s an easy installation, no legal implications, and high-quality build all prove that if you want a trouble-free cold air intake, the S&B Filters’ 5.9 Cummins cold air intake can very well be your choice.

The Cotton Cleanable version here:

Sale
S&B Filters 75-5094 Cold Air Intake For 2003-2007 Dodge Ram Cummins 5.9L (Oiled Cleanable, 8-ply Cotton Filter)
24 Reviews
S&B Filters 75-5094 Cold Air Intake For 2003-2007 Dodge Ram Cummins 5.9L (Oiled Cleanable, 8-ply Cotton Filter)
  • 42.00% More Airflow & 99.51% Efficiency Rating. Tested To The Internationally Accepted ISO 5011 Standard
  • Designed To Avoid Check Engine Lights
  • Premium Silicone Parts Last Longer And Look Better
  • S&B utilizes robotics to precisely apply the correct amount of oil to your filter before it ships. Oil Amount: 87 Grams on Filter Element & 17 Grams on Power Stack. Replacement Filter: KF-1035 & Filter Wrap: WF-1023
  • Street Legal in All US States, CARB Exempt ID: D-590-19

 

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Pros
  • CARB exempt
  • High-quality parts
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Cons
  • No big performance gains

 


Budget Pick: aFe Power Magnum Force Performance Intake System

aFe Power Magnum FORCE 54-10412 Dodge Diesel Trucks 03-07 L6-5.9L (td) Performance Intake System (Oiled, 5-Layer Filter)
15 Reviews
aFe Power Magnum FORCE 54-10412 Dodge Diesel Trucks 03-07 L6-5.9L (td) Performance Intake System (Oiled, 5-Layer Filter)
  • Outflows the factory intake by 117%. Produces an additional 18 horsepower and 24 lbs. x ft. torque
  • 5-Layer progressively finer oiled, washable cotton gauze media allows maximum airflow for maximum power
  • One-piece powder-coated heat-shield with a one-piece intake tube
  • Hassle-free installation that utilizes all factory mounting locations
  • This product is 50-state legal (CARB E.O Number D-550-4)

While it’s perfectly fine to pick up one of the simpler intakes here, there’s not much they’d do in terms of performance, apart from a more pronounced noise from the engine and responsiveness. This is where products like the aFe Power Magnum Force Performance Intake System for Ram 2500/3500 make their presence felt.

Good power gains

Compatible with Ram 2500/3500 models made between 2003 and 2007, this 5.9 Cummins air filter kit offers a claimed performance increase of up to 18 hp and a torque increment of up to 24 lb-ft. That’s possible due to the 117 percent improvement in airflow as compared to the stock intake.

But it’s not just about the increase in power and torque that aFe focuses on. Since the aFe Cold Air Intake for 5.9 Cummins uses factory mounting points, it’s an easy install. The performance air intake kit for 5.9 Cummins is CARB-exempt, so using your truck in California will not be an issue.

The coupling (silicone-made) and heat shield both can withstand a great amount of heat. The filter itself is a cotton-cleanable unit, which comes with assured multiple cleaning cycles. It’s made of 100 percent polyurethane, which further adds to its long life. 

What do we think of it?

It’s not just the advertised power gains you’ll get with the aFe Cold Air Intake Kit, but since it’s CARB-exempt, it has a wider appeal. And with a promised longer life, it’s a purchase you’re unlikely to regret. Plus, if the cotton cleanable filter isn’t for you, then there’s also the dry extendable model, link to which is below.

aFe with Dry Filter:

aFe Power Magnum FORCE 51-10412 Dodge Diesel Trucks 03-07 L6-5.9L (td) Performance Intake System (Dry, 3-Layer Filter)
15 Reviews
aFe Power Magnum FORCE 51-10412 Dodge Diesel Trucks 03-07 L6-5.9L (td) Performance Intake System (Dry, 3-Layer Filter)
  • Outflows the factory intake by 117%. Produces an additional 18 horsepower and 24 lbs. x ft. torque
  • 3-Layer non-oiled, washable synthetic media for the perfect balance of performance, protection and convenience
  • One-piece powder-coated heat-shield with a one-piece intake tube
  • Hassle-free installation that utilizes all factory mounting locations
  • This product is 50-state legal (CARB E.O Number D-550-4)

 

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Pros
  • Good power and torque gains
  • Factory mounting points
  • CARB exempt
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Cons
  • Overall easy to install, but might require some help

For Power Gains: K&N Cold Air Intake Kit with Washable Air Filter

K&N Cold Air Intake Kit with Washable Air Filter:  2003-2007 Dodge (Ram 2500, Ram 3500) 5.9L L6 Diesel, Black HDPE Tube with Red Oiled Filter, 57-1532
52 Reviews
K&N Cold Air Intake Kit with Washable Air Filter: 2003-2007 Dodge (Ram 2500, Ram 3500) 5.9L L6 Diesel, Black HDPE Tube with Red Oiled Filter, 57-1532
  • ULTIMATE LONGEVITY: 10-Year/Million Mile Limited Warranty protects for the life of your vehicle
  • GUARANTEED INCREASE IN HORSEPOWER: Dyno-tested with up to 50% more airflow than restrictive factory box air filter and intake tube
  • BETTER TOWING: Improves acceleration and uphill performance when towing by improving throttle response
  • IMPROVED ENGINE SOUND: Hear the power under the hood
  • WORLD CLASS PROTECTION: Pushing the limits of engine protection by protecting your engine from harmful contaminants

Made to be used with Ram 2500/3500 models made between 2003 and 2007 (with Cummins 5.9 liter diesel engine), the K&N Cold Air Intake is available with a choice of filters. The one we have here comes with an oiled/cleanable filter that’s said to last 100,000 miles of regular highway driving before a service. Of course, a filter’s age isn’t just about how one drives the truck but also the environment. This version has a red filter and a polyurethane tube, but there’s one with a dry filter and metal tube. That’s the next product mentioned below.

CARB-exempt and increased performance too

It comes with a CARB-exempt status, is easy to install (takes up to 90 minutes, says K&N), uses the factory mounts, works with the manufacturer’s ECU (so you don’t require a tuner), and offers a claimed increase of 10.96 hp. In addition to that, K&N also offers a million-mile warranty (or ten years) on the product.

What do we think about it?

The K&N cold air intake for 5.9 Cummins brings a long warranty, peace of mind of choosing a popular product, and decent power improvement as well.

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Pros
  • CARB exempt
  • Long warranty
  • Performance gains
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Cons
  • Not the quickest install

 


The Worth-It Splurge: K&N Blackhawk Cold Air Intake with Dry Filter

K&N 71-1532 Blackhawk Induction Air Intake System
52 Reviews
K&N 71-1532 Blackhawk Induction Air Intake System
  • ULTIMATE LONGEVITY: 10-Year/Million Mile Limited Warranty protects for the life of your vehicle.
  • GUARANTEED INCREASE IN HORSEPOWER: Dyno-tested with up to 50% more airflow than restrictive factory box air filter and intake tube
  • BETTER TOWING: Improves acceleration and uphill performance when towing by improving throttle response.
  • IMPROVED ENGINE SOUND: Hear the power under the hood.
  • WORLD CLASS PROTECTION: Pushing the limits of engine protection by protecting your engine from harmful contaminants

While all filters/cold air intakes are protected from the elements because they’re positioned inside the vehicle, it’s the smaller particles, like dust, that can affect the engine. The filter’s job is to protect the engine from these. And if you’re bound to drive your truck in extremely dusty environments, it’s suggested that you opt for the dry filters. The K&N Blackhawk Cold Air Intake serves that purpose for Ram 2500/3500 models with the 5.9 Cummins engine (model years: 2003 to 2007).

Why dry filters?

Given that the oiled/cotton ones can be cleaned, so why the dry filters, you might be wondering. That’s because you can use pressurized air to clean the dry filters, thereby ensuring the filter is clean and isn’t restricting the airflow — and that your Ram truck is performing the way it ought to. Pressurized air doesn’t work on cotton filters as it’s likely to separate the media from the filter.

The K&N Blackhawk Cold Air intake for 5.9 Cummins comes with a dry filter, an aluminum pipe, and a power increase of 8.09 hp. It’s also CARB-exempt, is said to take about 90 mins to install, and is backed by K&N’s long warranty.

What do we think of it?

It’s an easy choice if you’re looking at power gains but drive your truck in harsher conditions — which makes opting for a cotton cleanable one a less likely choice.

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Pros
  • Ready for dusty conditions
  • Power gains
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Cons
  • None

The Tried and True: Banks Ram Air Intake System

Banks 42145 Ram Air Intake System
29 Reviews
Banks 42145 Ram Air Intake System
  • Banks Power 42145 Banks Ram-Air Intake System; Incl. Filter/Housing/Ducting/Intake Pieces/Clamps/Hardware;
  • Authorized Dealer - 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed
  • Banks Power
  • 42145
  • Warranty: Yes

While power increment is not on Banks Power’s agenda for the Ram Air intake for 5.9 Cummins, the product comes with a few other promises: cooler temperatures, more MPG, and less smoke. Available with both cleanable and dry filter types, the Ram Air Intake System offers a 64 percent improvement in the airflow.

Allows engine movement

Banks Powers claims that the product is designed in such a way to accommodate engine movement, thereby minimizing the chances of damage to components. Not only is the colder air denser, but the product’s design also helps maintain a lower running temperature. In addition to this, there’s also a Banks Super Scoop which further improves the power output with the help of colder (and of course, denser) air.

What do we think of it?

The Banks Power Ram Air Intake System for 5.9 Cummins engined Ram 2500/3500 (model years 2003-2007) does exactly what it’s supposed to do: offer a colder intake air to the engine. It comes with a 5-year warranty and is CARB exempt, too.

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Pros
  • CARB exempt
  • Accommodates engine movement
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Cons
  • Expensive
  • No advertised power gains

 

Final thoughts on the best cold air intake for 5.9 Cummins Ram 2500 and Ram 3500 trucks

The basics behind a cold air intake are simple: you allow cooler — and thus denser — air into the engine, and you get better combustion. Which in turn means improved performance, less wastage of fuel, and most importantly, that your truck will run closer to its optimum spec. An intake system modification is less time-consuming than others, and if paired with other aftermarket parts, the gains can be substantial. 

Before we leave you to decide, it must be made clear that the products mentioned here are for replacing stock parts. If your truck is running a slew of upgrades already, then it makes sense to check with the manufacturer about the right product — to make sure that the aftermarket parts fitted to the vehicle don’t end up creating additional pressure on components.

If you’re looking at power gains from a cold-air intake, then it all boils down to two options: aFe Power Magnum and K&N 1532s (the oiled, red filter and the dry, black filter). The former promises a higher increase while the latter has a longer warranty. The S&B Filters intake and the Banks Power both might not advertise an increment in power/torque, but there’s an increase in response and noise. Banks Power also mentions that the components are made keeping in mind to accommodate engine movements, which should prove to be useful in the long run.