I like to go way off-road, including trails with deep water. Do I need a snorkel?
Snorkels serve a unique purpose for Jeeps and other off-road vehicles. They essentially raise the air intake point of an engine. Jeepers do this for two reasons: First, a snorkeled vehicle’s engine is less prone to ingesting water. Second, the engine can breathe cooler, drier air with a slight ram air effect.
Before you add a snorkel to your Jeep, determine its water wading height. Most manufacturers will provide this information in the owner’s manual or online. For example, Jeep’s website says a 2017 Wrangler JK is capable of fording 30 inches of water in stock trim. But you would want to attack the water at a slow, consistent speed to avoid large waves or splashes.
There are many snorkel options for Jeeps. You will have your choice of styles, mounting locations and, most importantly, quality. When it comes to something that may be the difference in whether your engine survives and gets you home, this is not a place to cheap out.
American Expedition Vehicles sells a high-quality kit that mounts up great to a current JK, and has many accessories available for it. Injen sells a nice kit as well, but you must run their air intake as well, whereas AEV’s snorkel mounts to the stock air box.
Nuts and Bolts
Mike Hughes is the parts and service director at Ferman Chrysler Jeep Dodge of New Port Richey (Fla.). He recommends adding a snorkel to improve Jeepin’ performance through water hazards but cautions that, without proper installation, your engine, differentials and electrical components could still be at risk.
Be prepared to cut some holes in your body at some point for all the kits on the market. There is no going back to stock without a trip to a body shop, so make sure you really want it before you install it.
Remember, snorkels are not magic. Adding one will not turn your Jeep into a submarine! You still have to be concerned about water entering your gearbox and differentials, damaging electrical components, or letting water enter the cabin. Be sure to silicone all your snorkel connections and use dielectric grease on all your connecters. If you frequently ford deep water, routinely change your gearbox and differential fluids.
A high-quality, correctly installed snorkel can help prevent costly damage, but you must take every precaution to keep your Jeep high and dry.