What Is A Snorkel Or Raised Air Intake?

A snorkel is a device often used on an overland vehicle that moves the engine's air intake from under the hood - usually from the wheel arches - to a position at roof height. The device is connected to the engine's intake with a coupler and ran out of the engine compartment through a hole in the fender. From here, the snorkel runs up along the A-pillar before terminating at a point near the top of the cabin. A watertight seal is produced at all joints in the system through the use of gaskets as well as silicone sealant.

How raised air intakes work

Reasons Why You Need A Snorkel

Increase The Vehicle's Rated Wading Depth

The use that people often associate with a snorkel on a vehicle is preventing water from entering the engine. If water does make its way into your engine it could damage it severely, require repairs or even a rebuild. The snorkel can prevent this from happening when making water crossings, but the use of snorkels for wading is actually only the secondary purpose.

The Main Reason: Cleaner Air For the Engine

More often, overlanders install a snorkel in order to provide the motor with cleaner air. By raising the position of the air intake to an elevated position, a snorkel helps to prevent high density dust kicked up by the wheels from entering the air system. Dust is kicked up into the fenders while driving and hangs in the air when riding in a convoy. Snorkels are especially useful for the second and consecutive rigs in an overland convoy.

Watch how Andrew St Pierre White explains

The Two Types of Raised Air Intakes

Ram Snorkel

A ram snorkel offers a front facing intake on the top of the unit. During normal operation, the engine will suck air into the snorkel. When the vehicle moves, air is "rammed" into the head. Heavy dust and moisture are forced onto the back wall and then drain through vents.

Vortex Snorkel

A vortex is mushroom-shaped and makes use of angled vanes along the bottom of the head to rotate air. The centrifugal force generated flings heavy particles onto the walls, while the air makes its way down the snorkel to the intake.


After driving for hours in a dusty convoy, this is how much our air filter was affected even with a snorkel

Advice

As one of the first overland modifications you consider, it is important to remember that you will need to cut a hole in the fender for the unit to run through. A properly fitting device will also need to be securely bolted to the fender as well.  The edges of all holes should be prepared so that they do not rust.  If these cuts in the metal are not rust-proof, they may develop corrosion issues down the road.

It is recommended to use a one-piece snorkel if possible.  Each joint within the system is a point for potential leaks, and these joints will work themselves loose over time.  If possible, try to source a raised air intake that was designed specifically for your off-road vehicle.  Not only will these parts fit your vehicle body snuggly, they will not require any modifications to your engine's internal intake assembly.

 Finally, it is important to remember that a snorkel alone will not make your rig capable of running in deep water.  It is important to determine what the manufacturer wading depth is for your vehicle.  A snorkel will not prevent water damage to cabins, fluid reservoirs, or electrical components.