Whether you are new to off-roading or not, you have probably noticed snorkels coming out of off-road vehicles from the engine bay all the way to the top of the car. These are called snorkels, and most wrangler owners who off-road frequently have them installed on their wranglers.
In this article, we’re gonna look into how to install snorkel in jeep wrangler jk and also some of its advantages and disadvantages.
What is a snorkel, and how does it work?
A car snorkel is a piece of equipment that allows air entry into a car’s engine when driving in deep water, and the engine can’t get air from the valves in the engine block.
A snorkel is made of three main parts, the air nozzle inlet, which faces towards the hood of the wrangler, the throttle intake, and an airbox with a filter located at the end of the throttle intake.
For a snorkel to work, you have to remove the factory air intake on the bumper and connect the snorkel to the air intake housing that directs air into the engine. Air will now enter the engine from the snorkel and not the factory air intakes.
Snorkels are mainly used if you are off-road and you find yourself going through deep waters, but this does not mean that they cannot be used when driving on dry trails or when daily driving your wrangler.
Is it possible to use the factory air intake and a snorkel simultaneously?
No. The engine only has one air intake system, which allows you to have either a snorkel or the factory air intake system. Even if you tried using both, there would be too much air going into the engine, which might result in engine damage.
What to consider before installing a snorkel on your wrangler?
Before you even walk into a store or go online to buy a snorkel for your wrangler, there are a few things related to your wrangler you should consider.
- Check your wrangler’s maximum wading depth
The wading depth is the maximum height of water that can go up from the wheel to the stated size. The wading depth does not only take into consideration the air intake. It also considers electricals in the engine bay that will get damaged by water if you drive deeper than the maximum wading depth.
The wading depth also prevents you from driving deeper into water depths that might cause water to enter the cabin. The wading depth is indicated on your owner’s manual and varies between different wranglers produced in varying production years.
Installing a snorkel does not mean that you can drive deeper than the maximum wading depth. The snorkel only replaces the factory air intake system, thus ensuring no change in engine combustion. You can drive a little deeper, but not for long.
This is because water will start getting into the cabin or moisture gets to the alternator, which will lead to your wrangler stalling in water. You also risk other electricals in the engine bay failing due to exposure to water.
- Check to see if a snorkel kit is available for the specific type of wrangler you have
Snorkels and snorkel kits are made specifically to fit specific cars. For example, a snorkel that fits on a 2010 Jeep wrangler Rubicon cannot fit on a 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.
However, multiple fitment snorkels fit on wranglers produced between specific years. For example, the Rugged Ridge 17756.21 XHD Snorkel Kit fits JK wranglers produced between 2007 and 2018.
If there are no snorkels or snorkel kits available for your wrangler, you’ll have to get one custom-made if you still want it. The advantage to this is you can customize your snorkel to your liking. Still, a custom-made snorkel or custom kit will cost you much more than buying one already made.
Types of snorkel
Snorkels are categorized according to the type of head they have. There are two main snorkels, Air ram head snorkels, and vortex or cyclone head snorkels.
- Air ram head snorkels
The head of this type of snorkel faces forward then turns at an angle, dropping down to the engine bay. This structure enables the separation of air and contaminants such as heavy particles as they are pushed towards the outside of the snorkel.
The pollutants get out of the snorkel through slots located near the head or the bottom. However, this does not cleanse the air entirely and only works efficiently if the air has moisture. Still, the remaining contaminants are filtered out by the filter at the bottom of the snorkel before the air gets into the engine.
There are air ram head snorkels that are only made to face the front, but the best is designed so that they can be turned in any direction.
If you are driving at low speeds or in convoy, you can turn the head of the snorkel towards the rear, and it will still work due to the vacuum created by the back of the head hitting against the air as you drive. Turning the head toward the rear reduces contaminants going into the snorkel.
- Vortex Head snorkels
These are more suited for driving in dusty and wet conditions. They have a better contaminant elimination system than air ram head snorkels. When the air gets into the bowl-shaped head of the snorkel, it rotates the blade-like structures.
These rotations push the contaminants outside the head through vents, then the air is pushed down toward the filter and into the engine. Unlike the air ram head snorkel, vortex head snorkels are fixed. They cannot be turned to face any direction, but this does not make any difference.
A vortex head snorkel does a better job filtering out contaminants before the air gets to the filter. But you’ll find that the filter in an air ram head snorkel needs replacing earlier than a filter in a vortex head snorkel. This is because more contaminants get into air ram head snorkels than vortex head snorkels.
What material is used to make the snorkel body?
Snorkels are either made from plastic, PVC piping, or steel
Snorkels made from plastic are mainly made from Linear Low-Density Polyethene (LLPDE), an industry-grade plastic with UV resistance. They are made as one piece, so they are easy to install and align perfectly with the wrangler’s body.
They are also finished with a UV-resistant coating to ensure the coating does not fade. PVC piping is used to manufacture cheaper snorkels, and nothing cheap lasts for long. Snorkels made out of PVC piping become brittle and crack with time, and they are not made as one-piece like snorkels made out of LLPDE plastic.
This means that the parts composing the whole snorkel will need removal and maintenance every now and then. Mild steel and stainless steel are the two types of steel used to manufacture snorkels.
The difference between these is that you’ll need to rustproof a snorkel made of mild steel as mild steel is prone to rust, unlike stainless steel. Stainless steel also produces induction sound when driving, which might be annoying to some drivers.
Mild steel does not lose structural strength when bent, unlike stainless steel. But snorkels made of either stainless or mild steel are stronger and more durable than snorkels made from other materials. It might be highly-priced than the others, but you get a longer-lasting snorkel.
Do you need a snorkel in the first place?
Snorkels are better air intake than the factory air intake system. They give a wrangler that perfect rugged look that some wrangler owners prefer. If you see that there is no need for it, it’s completely fine but ensure you are not driving in water depth that is deeper than your wrangler’s maximum depth limit.
Snorkels get cleaner air than the factory air intake, thus ensuring efficient combustion in your engine, so if you want one. You are not driving offroad. You can get one just for the benefits that are not off-road related. Still, if you are off-road and you know you will encounter deep waters, you definitely need a snorkel.
Best Snorkel Kit for Jeep Wrangler Jk
There are different manufactures for jeep wrangler snorkels. Some make a snorkel for your wrangler on order, and others sell ready-made snorkels. When buying a snorkel, the ratings and reviews will tell if the snorkel is excellent, average, or poor. The following are some of the best-recommended snorkels for jeep wranglers.
- This XHD Snorkel kit for jeep wrangler JK helps in relocating the venerable stock air intake location to help reduce dust clogged filters.
- It can be installed with only minor modification to a non-visible portion of the fender as opposed to the competition, which requires major cutting to exterior body panels or hood.
- This kit allows you to choose the right configuration for your selected terrain without robbing your engine of air intake.
- Also, this kit come with a 5 year warranty with advanced modular functionality.
How to install a snorkel on your jeep wrangler?
Note: Prepping the hood and airbox
- Open the hood, secure it with the hood latch, and locate the air filter box.
- Remove the screws on each corner of the plastic cover, then pull it off, which will reveal the air filter, which you will also remove out of the air filter box.
- Pull the lower part of the air filter box by twisting it side to side as you pull it up.
- On the lower air filter box, drill the factory rivets using a 5/32-inch drill bit, then on the snorkel duct, drill two holes that align with the ones you have prepared on the airbox.
- Connect the air filter box to the snorkel duct, insert rivets on the holed that you have drilled, and then apply silicone on the edges to airproof them.
- Remove the two bolts on the side of the engine bay where you will install the snorkel. These will be used to install the snorkel.
- There is a paper with precise cutting measurements to where the snorkel will enter the engine bay. Tape the paper onto your wrangler and punch holes using the marked spots on the paper.
- Remove the paper after punching the holes, then lift the hood up to drill the pilot holes. Tape around the area you will drill using duct tape to prevent the hood from cracking.
- After drilling the pilot holes through the hood, cut them using a grinder but still keep the duct tape on.
- Smooth out the cutting using the grinder, then paint it to prevent the exposed metal from rusting.
Installing the snorkel
- Install the snorkel brackets into the snorkel, and the installation points are marked out for easier identification.
- Remove the bolts behind the side mirror on the passenger side as the snorkel brackets will attach to those bolt holes.
- Attach the head onto the snorkel duct, then place the snorkel onto the wrangler, ensuring it fits in the cut you made and that the air filter box fits well where it was earlier.
- Ensure the brackets align with the 4 bolt holes you had removed the bolts from, behind the side mirror, and on the side of the hood.
- Reinstall the bolts, then close the hood to see if it closes properly. If it does, open it, then reinstall the air filter box cover and screw it in.
- Take your Wrangler for a test drive to try out the snorkel.
Pros and cons of snorkel installation on your wrangler
- There is improved fuel efficiency as snorkels feed more air into the engine than the factory air intake.
- Snorkels reduce soot in the engine as they feed cleaner air above the factory air intake, which provides polluted air into the engine.
- You cannot cross deeper waters without fear of water getting into your wrangler’s engine due to the raised air intake system.
- Snorkels only increase the wading depth by a bit due to various hindrances such as electricals in the engine bay and water entering the cabin.
- Installation can be a bit tricky, especially the part that involves cutting the hood.
A snorkel is one of the most essential upgrade parts for essential off-roaders, but even though you don’t go off-road with your wrangler that often, you can install one just because of the benefits it has over the factory air intake system.
Ensure you get the right snorkel for your wrangler before it is too late to realize you made the wrong cuttings, and you might have to replace your hood. You can cover the snorkel head using a net that allows air in and prevents large particle contaminants from entering into the snorkel duct.