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What is the Purpose of a Snorkel?

Photo by JulianSchaldach via iStock

A snorkel is a great investment if you do a lot of off-roading or overlanding.

While many people assume that snorkels are for driving through deep water, there are actually many other benefits of adding one to your 4×4 vehicle.

Let’s dive into the details of snorkels, what they’re for, and how your vehicle’s performance might be enhanced by installing one.

What is a Snorkel?

Snorkel on a 4x4

Photo by Tatabrada via iStock

First things first – what exactly is a snorkel?

Well, it’s an air intake for your engine. A traditional air intake is under the hood of your vehicle, but a snorkel moves it to the exterior of your rig at roof height.

By moving the air intake to this position, you enable the engine to get cleaner air – air that the engine needs to operate efficiently.

In What Situations Snorkel Is Helpful?

Snorkel on an SUV in the desert

Photo by Yarygin via iStock

As noted earlier, many people assume that a snorkel is used only for crossing deep water. And while snorkels are certainly ideal for these situations, there are other applications as well.

If you’re in the desert or other dusty environments, a traditional air intake can be overwhelmed with dirt and dust. All that debris can negatively impact engine performance.

By adding a snorkel, your vehicle is able to intake cleaner air at roof level, thus giving the engine access to the critical air it needs to operate.

So, whether you’re crossing rivers in the jungle or dune riding in the desert, a snorkel will come in handy.

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Benefits of a Snorkel

Jeep driving through a river

Photo by strategem9 via iStock

In addition to giving the engine access to cleaner air and preventing water from overwhelming the air intake, snorkels offer several other benefits.

First, it can prevent the engine from getting clogged by dust. Even if you aren’t taking your rig to the desert every weekend, your vehicle’s engine can still get clogged from frequent driving on dirt roads. Without the right mixture of gas and oxygen, your vehicle’s engine simply will not work as well as it should.

This brings me to the second benefit – better engine performance.

By using a snorkel, you give the engine better air and cooler air. Having cool, uncontaminated air is what the engine needs to perform at its best and most efficient. This means that your engine will have peak power and performance when you need to throw the hammer down!

4x4 driving in the desert

Photo by georgeclerk via iStock

A third benefit is improved fuel economy. All that dust and dirt has a negative impact on the engine’s performance, so the clean air from a snorkel will give your vehicle a boost in fuel economy.

Lastly, by ingesting cleaner air, a snorkel helps reduce the maintenance you have to perform on your vehicle. For example, the air filters in your vehicle will stay cleaner, longer, which means less maintenance on your part.

What Types of Snorkels are There?

Snorkel types

Photo by moisseyev via iStock

Most snorkels are like the one you see above. They face forward and air is rammed into itas the vehicle moves forward. This serves to push air, dust, dirt, and other particulates out of the intake through drainage holes.

Some folks turn the intake backward, though. In situations in which you’re driving through extreme dust, rain, or snow, a rear-facing intake can prevent clogging from occurring. But in the vast majority of situations, a front-facing intake is your best bet.

There are also vortex snorkels, which look similar to the dust bin on your vacuum cleaner. There’s a fan inside it that helps separate dust particles from the air. These types of snorkels are ideal for extremely dusty environments.

So, as you make modifications to your off-road or overlanding rig, bear in mind that a snorkel is a good investment, even if you aren’t crossing deep rivers. You can find snorkels for a few hundred bucks, and if you’re handy, you can install one yourself in a couple of hours. It might be a fun weekend project to do before your next off-roading or overlanding trip!

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