To Snorkel or Not to Snorkel
In an earlier article, we explored the benefits of having a snorkel in dusty environments but they also offer a significant benefit in wet conditions. Regardless of your terrain, a snorkel may still be beneficial for your engine.
While snorkels can be helpful in a variety of off-roading applications, the obvious one is crossing streams or bodies of water. It's called a snorkel, after all. If the water you're crossing is up to the engine, having a snorkel is a downright necessity.
A car's snorkel acts pretty much just like the snorkel you'd use during an island vacation—it raises the point of entry for air higher and away from water. Just like your own lungs, your car's engine can't breath while it's submerged... that and the catastrophic failure that water entering it can cause. Like a mouth piece, the bottom of the snorkel connects to an air box via water-tight fittings. Even if you're crossing a river where the water level is above the snorkel cut out, you’ll be protected from water entering at the airbox.
What If You’re Not Crossing Rivers?
Even when driving in the rain, a snorkel can keep water out of your air box. Bryan, of Safari 4x4 Engineering, explains that the grid at the opening of the snorkel causes rain and moisture to hit the walls inside of the air ram. The water then slides down the walls and onto strategically placed holes to exit the snorkel. By letting water pass through and exit the air ram, moisture-free air continues down into the intake and engine. Even when it's pouring rain, your engine stays dry.
What about snow?
When traversing through snowy environments, you can turn the air ram opening around, to face backwards, to keep the snorkel from clogging with snow that will melt into your air filter. Otherwise, when the air ram is blocked, snow can pass through and cause the paper filter elements to breakdown.
Installing a Snorkel
A snorkel requires a hole to be cut into your fender or hood, allowing the air entering the snorkel to be sent directly to the factory air box.
Cutting the body of your truck might not be for the faint of heart, which is why snorkel installation is best left to the professionals, but its cheaper and less painful than getting stuck in the middle of nowhere with a hydrolocked motor.
If you do a lot of off-roading, a snorkel can be a great upgrade for you. Regardless of wet or dry weather, a snorkel provides protection from the elements. While it may be a bit tough to see your truck cut up, the benefits in reliability can more than make up for it.