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Complete Jeeper’s Guide to Snorkels

By:  Louis Orellana  / Sep 17 2019
Complete Jeeper’s Guide to Snorkels

Most Jeep owners enjoy modifying their Wrangler with a heavier focus on function over flair, but some functional modifications naturally also offer a good level of flair. Due to their basic design, snorkels are one of those great looking modifications that provide a great function. In this information guide we’ll explain the general purpose of a snorkel, different types of snorkels and who would benefit the most out of this modification to their Jeep.

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Snorkels provide a nice rugged styling element to your Wrangler. If you’re looking for a more aggressive all-terrain look for your Jeep, a snorkel will certainly add to that overall style, while providing an important function that will give you peace of mind when you find yourself in deep waters

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What is a Snorkel?

Like the extended breathing tube on a snorkeling mask, that you might use while swimming, a Jeep snorkel is designed to simply elevate your Wrangler’s air intake above water level. The height of this air intake is critical when going through deep river crossings, where the water level might rise over the hood line and make its way into the factory air box. 

Why is it dangerous if water leaks into the factory air-box? 

The immediate danger of excessive water in the air box involves the possibility of water entering the engine itself. If a large enough volume enters the engine, it cannot be compressed, leading to bent crank-shafts and eventual seizing of the engine. The process of engine seizing due to water damage is often referred to as hydro-lock. In most cases a hydro-locked engine could involve significant repair costs, with high probability of a complete engine replacement. Once properly installed, a snorkel should lead into a sealed air box, providing the engine with an elevated dry source of air during deep water crossings and minimizing the possibility of hydro-lock.

What are the most common types? 

Fundamentally, snorkels are predominately all made of hard ABS plastic, that is UV treated, weatherproof and impact resistant. The general light-weight construction, allows the snorkel to typically mount along the side of the Wrangler, by the air-box in a variety of methods. Depending on the year of your Wrangler, this might fall on either the driver or passenger side, depending on the location of the factory air-box.

Low Profile Cowl Design: In some cases, the design is modular and can be adapted to a simple over-hang that hovers above the cowl of the hood. This location, offers a slight height improvement over the factory air-box, while also retaining full visibility and minimal change the look of the Wrangler’s exterior. It also provides a substantial increase in the volume of air entering the engine, over the factory air-box.

High Profile Design: A more traditional snorkel involves a plastic cylinder intake that is typically mounted alongside the jeep’s A-pillar/windshield frame and leads along the side of the hood, often requiring modification to the hood to properly connect with the factory air-box. This design offers the highest and most effective air intake point during deep water crossing and in most cases, allowing your Wrangler to be almost fully submerged, theoretically up until the inlet of the snorkel. Like the low-profile cowl design, an exterior high-profile design also provides a stronger stream of colder/denser air, which in turn provides a slight increase in engine power and throttle response. In addition, a high-profile design is also the most visible option, giving your Jeep a distinctive all-terrain look and function, this can sometimes be visible while driving and slightly obstruct the driver’s view along the front-side of the Wrangler. It’s also important when considering a high-profile design, you should make note of the attachment points, which could interfere with some aftermarket roof racks that typically attach to the same A-pillar windshield frame bolts. Some manufacturers take this possible issue into account and provide optional mounting brackets.

Fender Vent: One of the least obtrusive snorkel design, involves mounting through the fender vent. Typically, these types of snorkels exit the engine bay along the front wheel liner through a series of curved plastic inlets. They are typically mounted on the fender or the cowl of the hood. They offer a minimal increase in height for the air intake, but are among the easiest to install, with the least amount of modification needed to your Wrangler. Like low-profile designs, fender vented snorkels also retain great visibility, with very little disturbance to the general look of the Jeep’s exterior. The can often be easily removed/installed as needed, allowing them to be very versatile, while off/on the trail. It’s important to note that although these designs still offer an improvement in water crossing clearance, they are difficult to fully seal due to several interlocking pieces and offer minimal improvement in airflow when compared to other snorkels, due to the bends needed within the routing along the fender and side of the Jeep.

Who should use a snorkel?

As discussed in this guide, snorkels are a very useful tool while driving on terrain with deep water crossings. Given the unpredictably of the depth of most water crossings, Snorkels are often referred to as an insurance modification that is good to have just in case. There is always a high level of uncertainty when you approach a water/muddy crossing. Depth and traction is a major factor, if you find yourself stuck in the middle of a deep crossing, water build-up can happen quickly and cause significant damage, ensuring proper airflow is critical to maintain engine performance. 

If you encounter several deep-water crossings while on the trails in your area, then a snorkel would probably an inexpensive modification, that you can easily do to your Jeep. If you live in a generally dry climate with excessive sand or debris in the air, some snorkels also offer pre-filters that help filtrate excessive air particles that can work their way into the factory air-box filter and clog it, which in turn reduces the volume of air entering the engine and affect engine performance. Pre-filters offer a clear and easy to install method that adds another layer of filtration to the air coming into your engine, while also providing an additional styling element to the exterior of your Jeep.

Fitment includes: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, TJ, JK, JL, Sport, Sahara, SE, X, Rubicon, Unlimited, Sport-S