The Cummins 5.9L is the classic original Cummins that was developed for medium-duty pick-up truck use. This model started in 1989 when Chrysler and Cummins worked together to create a perfect and perhaps best pickup truck in the world, the RAM. While the RAM initially started in 1981, it was underperforming compared to Ford and GM models, so the new Cummins engine was to carve a legendary niche in the automotive world.
The first Dodge RAM hit the streets in 1989 with a powerful 400 pounds-feet of torque, and this let it obliterate and outperform its competition.
As with all engines, from its first date to the current date, the model has evolved and improved. The 1989 model was called an ISB, or Interact System B model. This model came with a 5,883 cubic cm (359.0 cu in) displacement, a 102.0 mm (4.02 in) cylinder bore and 120.0 mm (4.72 in) piston stroke.
The turbocharger increased output in the high-compression diesel. The engine itself is all-iron with forged steel connecting rods, an assembled camshaft, and a cast aluminum intake manifold. The ISB models come with electronically controlled Robert Bosch GmbH fuel systems.
There is an off-road version called the QSB (Quantum System B), and it comes in a 5.9 liters (360.0 cu in) capacity. This model uses the same ISB design but is used for marine, agricultural, and construction applications.
Here is the yearbook of the 5.9 Cummins engine;
Generation 1 – 1989-1993 used an Inline 6-cylinder, 4-stroke engine with Turbocharged / Aftercooled (MY91.5+) and had a 5.9L (359 in3) Displacement.
Generation 2 – 1994-2002 used an Inline 6-cylinder, 4-stroke engine with Turbocharged / Aftercooled, and had a5.9L (359 in3) Displacement.
Generation 3 – 2003-2009 used an Inline 6-cylinder, 4-stroke engine with Turbocharged / Aftercooled (MY91.5+) and had a 5.9L (359 in3)/6.7L (408 in3) Displacement.
Gen 4 is the 6.7L Cummins.
|Gen.||Year||Displacement||Peak hp||Torque (lb-ft)||Pump||Valves|
Cold Air Intake Filters
Cold Air intake filters are aftermarket upgrades added to engines to improve the filtration and cold air intake for performance upgrades. Air filters are used to stop particulates from entering the engine, radiator, and fuel lines. Air filters are integral parts of an engine’s live performance, as such, when a filter is not performing, the engine will deteriorate, and performance will falter.
Cold air intake filters are very basic units made of various materials and ergonomically designed to be changed within minutes. As a rule of thumb, air filters must be cleaned or changed at least once a year, or once every 12,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Filters do age, and also cleaning them or replacing them is a matter of common sense. If you drive in especially polluted areas such as construction sites, you should consider changing the filter after 6,000 miles.
Cold air intake filters are kits that provide over stock performance by increasing the flow of clean cold air to your engine. Just so you understand the impact of a cold air intake filter when compared to a stock, it will improve your acceleration by 11%, and a clean filter improves performance by the same degree. As such, you are looking at the improvement of up to 22% from a clogged stock air filter, when adding an aftermarket cold air filter.
Now let’s take a look at the five best air filters for 5.9 Cummins engines.
List of Top-Rated Cold Air Intakes for 5.9 Cummins Comparison Table:
|K&N 57-1532||2003-2007||1||View on Amazon|
|S&B Filters 75-5094||2003-2007||1||View on Amazon|
|Spectre 9938||2003-2007||0-1||View on Amazon|
|aFe 54-11342-1||2003-2009||2||View on Amazon|
|aFe 51-72002-E||2003-2007||1||View on Amazon|
The Cold Air Intakes for 5.9 Cummins Reviews & Buyer’s Guide:
K&N 57-1532 – FIPK Performance Air Intake System
The K&N 57-1532 Air Intake fits 2003-2007 Dodge Ram 2500, and Dodge Ram 3500 models.
The K&N 57-1532 FIPK air intake system is an aftermarket filter to replace the OEM stock filters.
This model comes to replace the filters in all 2003-2007 Dodge Ram 2500, and Dodge Ram 3500 models, and is proven to successfully improve air intake via an aerodynamically engineered intake tube into the engine’s throttle body which guarantees power gain.
This model comes with an oversized conical air filter that can be used for up to 100,000 standard driving miles before maintenance. The design features an additional vent that connects to the air temperature sensor.
Installation is fast, you will do it within 90 minutes, and once in place, it is easy to access and maintain.
- Guaranteed to increase horsepower
- Designed to improve throttle response and engine sound
- Replaces entire factory air intake system
- A free-flowing high-density polyethylene tube
- Easy to install, usually in 90 minutes or less
- Washable and reusable lifetime air filter
This is a classic 5.9L Cummins cold air intake filter kit and is really easy to install, and much easier to maintain, and the price is reasonable too. Well worth investing for those additional performance upgrades.
S&B Filters 75-5094 – Cold Air Intake
The S&B Filters 75-5094 Cold Air Intake is designed for 2003-2007 Dodge Ram Cummins 5.9L and minimizes air restriction thereby increasing the flow of 42% better than stock.
S&B filters are exceptional models in the aftermarket, the reason being their material. They are made of a highly thermal resistant and quite elastic silicone that resists temperatures up to 400oF. As such, these models tend to last longer, don’t crack as fast under pressure and use high friction to attach to the surface with no oily residue.
This model comes with a secondary inlet that increases the flow of air and reduces friction via the one-piece design. The unit comes with a mapped MAF, so you don’t get pesky engine light alerts.
You can also work in different environments, for cleaner conditions you open the restriction plug that lets you use a second inlet valve for faster and larger air capacity. This model features a nifty cool looking clear filter lid too.
- Cotton Filter
- Red Oil
- 87 Gram Oil capacity
- 17 Gram Oil capacity Power Stack
To be honest, this is a really neat little package for improving the older 59. Cummins engines, so if you have a 2003 to 2007 model, don’t think twice, get this cold air intake to improve your performance.
Spectre 9938 – Air Intake Kit
The Spectre 9938 fits 2003 to 2007 Dodge Ram 2500, and Dodge Ram 3500 models.
The Spectre air intake system is a classic stage 0 to stage 1 cold air intake filter kit. This model comes with the classic red Spectre reusable low restriction air filter for quality stock and stage 1 performance upgrade.
This model comes with polished aluminum tubing, and a black powder coated heat shield which is designed to help prevent hot engine air from entering the intake inlet.
- Designed for horsepower and torque increase
- Easy to install performance
- Includes a Spectre reusable air filter
- High quality polished aluminum tubes
A standard OEM style to Stage 1 style unit, very good for improving performance lightly while maintaining a very clean and smooth ride.
aFe 54-11342-1 – Stage 2 Pro-5R Cold Air Intake System
Magnum FORCE Stage-2 Pro 5R Cold Air Intake System 54-11342-1 for 2003-2009 L6-5.9/6.7L (TD)
This aFe model 54-11342-1 is a stage 2 performance product and is designed to add 105% over performance from a standard stock unit. This translates into an increase of 14 horsepower with +27 Lbs. x ft. of torque.
The body is made of a thermally protective plastic with a 16-gauge powder coated heat shield. The design features a polyurethane filter for washable reuse that will last a lifetime.
- +14 HP / +27 lbs. x ft. Torque max gains
- Outflows factory intake by 105%
- Roto-Molded Intake Tube
- Filter-to-Housing Interface
- Pro DRY S Oil-Free washable Filter
- Washable and Reusable for Multiple Cleaning Cycles
- No Cutting or Drilling on OEM Parts for Faster Installation
This is a classic example of aFe perfection, and if you need a stage 2 upgrade for your 2003-2009 5.9 Cummins, I seriously suggest you consider this as your first choice.
aFe Power 51-72002-E – Air Intake
Diesel Elite Momentum HD Pro DRY S Cold Air Intake System 2003 to 2007 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 models.
This is another aFe stage 1 performance upgrade. However, the design in this model is slightly different to that of the 54-11342-1.
This performance upgrade kit comes with a one-piece sealed housing and auxiliary air scoop to eliminate the use of multiple-piece housings for a cooler air intake charge. You also get a urethane plug for cold weather applications to block the auxiliary air scoop.
You get the big Pro DRY S Performance Air Filter with its 360-degree radial flow air filter made of 3-layers of progressive synthetic material. The air filter is wrapped in steel providing extra strength preventing filter collapse.
This model comes with stainless steel hardware, including T-bolt clamps and a 2-ply reinforced silicone hump couplers t make sure the body does not crack or slip during the most rigorous of conditions.
This filter unit improves performance by 27% and delivers an additional 22 horsepower with an extra 43lbs. x ft. of torque.
- +22 HP / +43 lbs. x ft. Torque max gains
- Outflows factory intake by 27%
- CAD-Designed Roto-Molded Intake Tube
- High-Quality One-Piece Sealed Housing with Auxiliary Air Scoop
- Unique (Patent Pending) Filter-to-Housing Interface for Easy Installation
- Pro DRY S Oil-Free washable Filter
- Includes 12 oz. cleaner spray for air filter cleaning
- No Cutting or Drilling on OEM Parts for Faster Installation
A really classic aFe model delivers a great punch of perfection to your 2003-20097 5.9 Cummins applications and does not take your performance way off the charts. A comfortable unit for a comfortable ride.
Without a doubt, K&N 57-1532 FIPK Performance Cold Air Intake System is the best for a 5.9 Cummins engine.
For this engine, by just simply replacing a cold air intake you can get up to 20 extra ponies. Still, the best efficiency can be achieved only when the custom tune is used.