What are Jeep Snorkels?

What are Jeep Snorkels?

Last Updated September 22, 2021 | Andrew Boyle

Snorkels aren’t just for people, they can be for your car as well. Instead of allowing you to swim through coral reefs and struggle with a bulky underwater camera, vehicular snorkels can help your car or truck’s engine get cleaner, colder and dryer air from a higher vantage point. While the function of a vehicular snorkel is simple, there are quite a few misconceptions about what exactly they do and how they can improve your off-roading experience.

A Snorkel for Jeeps?

Just like the snorkel used to gawk at tropical fish, vehicular snorkels raise the point of air intake for your car or truck above the engine bay. Instead of sucking in air through the front of the car, the air intake is placed near the hood of the car on the passenger side. Automotive snorkels are essentially stack exhausts in reverse. They are quite common on military vehicles like the Humvee, and many trucks and other offroading vehicles come with them installed by default.

Snorkel on Beach

Exploded Jeep Snorkel

Installing a snorkel isn’t too difficult, but some modifications to the hood are necessary to give the air a path to the engine. There isn’t one single way that a snorkel is aligned on the hood of the car, so the installation procedure will change depending on which snorkel you decide to buy. You will have to be comfortable cutting up the metal on the hood though.

How Snorkels Can Help Your Jeep

One of the important things to realize about snorkels is that they are not just useful around water. In fact, unless you are frequently fording streams in your Jeep, most of the benefits that you are likely to experience from a snorkel come on dry land. Even beyond that, snorkels have some properties that make them especially useful in dry, dusty conditions.

Tomb Raider Jeep Snorkel

Because of the nature of snorkels, they essentially function as a cold air intake. The air injected into the engine is coming far away from the hot engine bay, so there are no needs for any sort of heat shield or similar device. This is good news for Jeep owners who are looking to get a little more punch out of their engine. There are specific breathing requirements for each engine, however, so be sure to match your snorkel with the engine properly.

Another benefit of snorkels is that they can provide a whole other layer of filtering for the air being entered into the engine. There are additions to the top of the snorkel that are called vortex filters that create a (big surprise) vortex of air that can filter out dust and larger particles before the air is even passed through the main filter. A clean filter is crucial for optimal engine performance, so any way to keep that filter cleaner for longer is surely a valuable way to get the most out of your Jeep.

Jeep Snorkel Myths

One of the more dangerous misconceptions about Jeep snorkels is that you can submerge your vehicle much deeper into the water. While that is true to some point, the amount of water your vehicle is able to safely ford is increased, but it isn’t as dramatic as you might assume. Most every vehicle has a maximum fording depth that is not determined by the height of the vehicle’s air intake. There are a number of components like fuses, sensors, and various other electrical implements that can be damaged by submersion. So, a snorkel can’t convert your Jeep into a shallow water submarine, but it can help prevent your engine from hydrolocking.

Wrangler Fording Creek

Since the air intake is above the vehicle, it is much less likely that enough water can sneak into the engine and hyrdrolock it. Hydrolocking is a very nasty fate to befall your engine, and it has ruined many people’s off-roading ventures. Again, a snorkel will help prevent this from happening, but it doesn’t mean that your Jeep is an automotive Aquaman.

Another myth about snorkels is that they are vulnerable to rain. This fear does make some sense, as ostensibly anything that enters the snorkel should be headed right for the engine. If this were the case, then why would anyone ever put a snorkel on their vehicle? Snorkels employ a variety of methods to “pre-filter” the air before it gets to the engine, one of which involves allowing the water to drain out of the pipe before it even touches the air filter, let alone the engine.

Mudding Jeep With Snorkel

Putting a snorkel on your Jeep has many more uses simply than protecting your engine from hydrolock. They are essentially an upgraded air filter and cold air intake that add a utilitarian flair to your rig. To cap it all off, they are relatively simple to install.

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About the Author

Andrew is a Jeep TJ owner and car industry aficionado with over 150 articles under his belt. Read full bio →

What are Jeep Snorkels?

A snorkel is not just for braving deep waters in your Jeep. While they do help keep your engine dry, they can improve your driving experience in other dimensions as well.