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Exploring the Depths: A Guide to Snorkeling with Trucks

Modifications are necessary to improve your truck’s or Jeep’s capabilities and one, in particular, is necessary if you will be crossing deep water. An off-road snorkel is one modification many off-roading enthusiasts make to their vehicles.

So why do people put snorkels on trucks and Jeeps, and do you really need one? Let’s see.

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What Is an Off-Road Snorkel?

An off-road snorkel is a device that is installed on a vehicle, typically a 4×4 or SUV, to allow it to ford deeper water crossings. It is essentially a tube that extends from the air intake of the engine to a higher position on the vehicle.

This allows the engine to draw in air from a higher, drier location, rather than from the low, potentially flooded area around the vehicle. This can prevent the engine from ingesting water, which can lead to serious damage.

Off-road snorkels are most commonly used on vehicles that are driven in off-road or on rugged terrain, where deep water crossings are more likely to occur.

Red truck with snorkel installed
If you’re planning an off-roading adventure, you may want to consider installing a snorkel onto your truck.

How Does a Truck Snorkel Work?

A truck snorkel connects to the truck’s air intake and creates a water-tight seal. The pipe runs out of the engine bay and up the windshield on either the driver’s or passenger’s side of the vehicle. This increases the height of the intake, which can be helpful when navigating water or driving in dusty or sandy environments. 

Why Do People Put Snorkels on Trucks and Jeeps?

Installing a Jeep or off-road truck snorkel is one of the most common modifications made by those who enjoy off-roading. These vehicle snorkels improve the off-roading capabilities of a vehicle and can allow the driver to navigate more difficult terrains, circumstances, and situations. Most notably, snorkels allow trucks and jeeps to ford rivers that would otherwise fill the air intake with water. Since many overlanding trails wind through wilderness, this means you can keep going when deeper water crosses your path.

A more capable off-roading vehicle means taking adventures to the next level and pushing the boundaries for what a vehicle can do. A snorkel is a great place to start for those who want to get the most out of their vehicle and protect it during their adventures.

Pro Tip: Want to update your truck? Find out What Mods Should I Do to My Truck First?

Jeep with snorkle installed
Use an off-road Jeep snorkel to elevate the air intake point higher up on your vehicle.

What Are the Benefits of a Truck Snorkel?

Several benefits make installing an off-road truck snorkel a good idea. The most obvious benefit is that it increases the height of the air intake. This means navigating water crossings without worrying about your vehicle stalling due to a lack of air in the engine. Like a snorkeler swimming in the ocean, you can keep air flowing to the engine as long as you keep the top of the snorkel out of the water.

Another benefit is that a truck snorkel can feed cleaner air into the engine. The increased height of the air intake system allows you to avoid sucking polluted air that is often at ground level into your engine. In addition, the dust or sand particles flying in the air are less likely to find their way into the air intake with the snorkel’s increased height.

A snorkel can also help improve vehicle performance by acting as an air ram and cold air intake. This works by routing the air intake away from the engine compartment, where the air is hot and less dense, to a location where the air is cooler and denser. This cooler air creates more efficient combustion and can improve power and performance. In addition, the snorkel faces forward and at higher speeds acts as a scoop. This scoop can increase pressure in the intake and allow the engine to “breath” easier.

Red truck with snorkle modification
Make crossing water and getting cleaner air into your vehicle easier by modifying your truck with a snorkel.

What Are the Disadvantages of a Truck Snorkel?

While truck snorkels have many benefits, they also have some disadvantages. One of the biggest is you often have to cut into the vehicle during installation. You can seriously damage your vehicle if you don’t know what you’re doing when installing your snorkel. It may be best to leave the installation to a professional to avoid doing more harm than good.

Another disadvantage of a snorkel is that it doesn’t make your vehicle invincible to water. Just because you’ve installed a snorkel doesn’t mean you can plow through a 10-foot pond of water. You must still be aware of a vehicle’s wading capacity, as you can cause serious damage to the electrical system and other important components. If you stall out or get stuck in deep water you could still cause massive water damage.

Pro Tip: Planning an off-roading adventure? Make sure you have these 8 Critical Recovery Gear You Must Have Off-Road and Overlanding.

Jeep off-roading in forest with snorkle modification
For off-roading fans, a snorkel is definitely worth considering.

Does a Snorkel Make Your Truck or Jeep Louder?

Some drivers have experienced their vehicles becoming mildly louder while driving down the road after installing a snorkel. The noise drivers typically identify as a sucking noise due to the increased air entering the vehicle’s air intake. While the increase in noise is minimal, it’s still noticeable for many drivers.

Can You Drive a Truck With a Snorkel in the Rain?

You can drive a truck with an off-road snorkel in the rain and not expect any issues. While a snorkel transfers the air intake outside the covered safety of an engine bay, most snorkels have drainage features that eliminate any water that finds its way into the snorkel. 

The water will drain from the snorkel long before it can reach the engine and cause any potential issues.

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Are Snorkels for Trucks and Jeeps Worth It?

A snorkel is worth considering if you enjoy offroading in your truck or Jeep. The benefits outweigh the disadvantages, and they can improve your vehicle’s capabilities. While you may not be able to ford the Mississippi River, it can help minimize the impacts of water while crossing streams and other smaller bodies of water. 

In addition, keeping sand, dirt, and other gunk out of your air intake can help you keep contaminants out of your engine for it to run efficiently. 

Are you considering an off-road snorkel for your off-roading truck or Jeep adventures? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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About Tom Morton

Tom, a Pacific Northwest native, is our technical genius. Born in Washington and raised in Alaska before settling in Michigan. He's the man who keeps our operation running, both figuratively and literally.

With a background in Electrical Engineering, Tom specializes in RV solar systems and lithium batteries. He made history as the first documented individual to use a Tesla battery module as an RV battery. Tom has personally assisted countless RVers with system installations and has educated thousands more through his videos and articles.

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Tom's mechanical expertise extends beyond RVs to boats, planes, and all things mechanical. He's renowned for taking on maintenance and repair projects single-handedly and is often spotted underneath RVs, making him the technical backbone of our endeavors.

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