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The Top 5 Vehicle Snorkels & How to Choose One

How to Pick a Vehicle Snorkel

Considering getting your 4×4 wet? Then you may be considering outfitting your vehicle with a snorkel.

But what exactly is a snorkel? How do they work? And what should you look for when selecting one?

Continue reading to find out why you need a snorkel (including the absolute most important reason that the other articles won’t even mention!)

What Is a Vehicle Snorkel?

A vehicle snorkel does exactly what a swimming snorkel does – it allows your engine to breathe underwater! However, it also has other advantages as well, which we’ll discuss below.

A snorkel “feeds” purified air into your engine, regardless of your 4×4 being dipped in water. In turn, it puts less pressure on the air filters and also contributes to better engine efficiency.

Advantages of Installing a Snorkel

A snorkel gives several superpowers to your vehicle including:

  • Raising the level of the air intake to reduce the likelihood of water entering your engine
  • Allows cooler air to enter your engine
  • Reduces the amount of dust entering your engine

Aside from keeping your air intake dry, a snorkel also sucks in hair well above your engine bay, which means colder air. Your engine bay is hot and this hot air reduces performance.

By raising your intake, it also reduces the amount of dust and dirt entering your engine which are, again, performance inhibitors.

The Most Important Reason to Get a Snorkel

By far the most important reason to get a snorkel though is because they just look cool. Let’s be honest – snorkels just look cool. So after adding a Hi Lift jack to your vehicle and perhaps a bull bar, there’s no better way to make your 4×4 look tougher.

How Hard Is It to Install a Snorkel?

Installing a snorkel can be a relatively easy weekend project.

The most difficult thing about installing a snorkel is going to be the fact that you need to cut through some part of your 4×4. This may mean your fenders or even your hood.

Don’t feel comfortable installing your own snorkel? Then get a local 4×4 shop to do it for you and won’t break the bank.

Other Things to Consider

There are a few other things to consider before picking a snorkel for your vehicle.

Check Your 4×4’s Wading Depth/Height

4x4 wading depth

Before you consider outfitting your 4×4 with a snorkel you need to determine two things: the wading height and ground clearance.

Wading height refers to your 4×4’s water resistance level. Determining it quickly helps you protect the cabin from water intrusion as well as your vehicle’s engine and its other vital parts, from choking and early damage.

Ground Clearance refers to the available space between a given terrain and your 4×4’s underside. Being aware of it gives you an idea of how far your vehicle’s bottom is from the muddy or watery surface.

Take note, the two terms are different. Flood can reach your 4×4’s ground clearance but may not affect its wading height. This is because ground clearance only reaches your vehicle’s exterior parts, while the wading height reaches its interior parts where the vital engine components like the Engine Control Unit (ECU) and batteries are located.

The battery is where your vehicle draws power and the ECU is what makes your vehicle run. The higher they are (which is known through wading height), the safer your vehicle is the moment it travels on water.

Even if you install a vehicle snorkel based on the recommended position and height, it will eventually be useless, once water enters your vehicle and damage its vital electrical parts.

Look for the Right 4×4 Snorkel Fitting

vehicle snorkel fitting

Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all vehicle snorkel because its air intake system, through which every 4×4’s engine works, is different.

For example, if you own a Toyota Land Cruiser 100 Series, you have to equip it with a vehicle snorkel that’s precisely for it and the same thing goes, if you own a 2014 and above Wrangler TJ Jeep.

Therefore, buying a new one requires you to replace your current air intake system.

Select Your Preferred Vehicle Snorkel Materials

vehicle snorkel composition

Not all snorkels are created equally and most of that inequality is due to the material they are made from.

The material where a vehicle snorkel is made from determines if it’s high-quality or not. In other words, the more durable it is, the longer its lifespan and usefulness.

Linear Low-density Polyethylene (aka Plastic) – is a kind of plastic that’s adequately resilient against sunlight. However, its sunlight resistance is further strengthened when it’s coated with a black carbon additive.

Polyvinyl Chloride (aka PVC Plastic) – is a kind of plastic that’s regarded for being very inexpensive that’s normally used in DIY snorkel projects.

Mild Steel – Very durable and cheaper than stainless steel but not as rust resistant (and doesn’t look as good in my opinion!)

Stainless Steel – This is the most durable, and most expensive, material you can get for your snorkel.

Identify the Type of Snorkel Head That You Need

types of vehicle snorkel head

Vehicle snorkels are divided into two kinds; one with air ram head and the other, with vortex head. Both kinds serve one purpose of filtering dust and water. On the other hand, the filtration process is what distinguishes one from the other.

Air Ram Snorkels – Pushes dirt and water in an inward motion until they’re finally flushed out of its upper vents. The remaining, purified air then travels from it and eventually goes to the engine.
Vortex Snorkels – Pushes dirt and water in an upward motion through the circular force created by its blades (like an exhaust fan). As dirt and water reach the top, they’re gradually sucked out through small holes, until nothing’s left but clean air.
Mushroom Snorkels – Contains slits and are tightly enclosed in design to easily get rid of dust and water. It’s a slight combination of ram and vortex variants.

How Much Does a Vehicle Snorkel Cost?

Vehicle snorkel price varies based on the material and quantity. Usually, the more durable your vehicle snorkel is as in the case of the stainless steel, the more expensive it is.

Here is a broad generalization of how much you can expect to pay for a snorkel.

  Vehicle Snorkel Heads Only Vehicle Snorkels with Limited Parts Vehicle Snorkels as a Kit
Price $30-$60 $80-$100 $300-$500+


Best Vehicle Snorkels for the Most Popular 4x4s

Like I mentioned earlier in the article, which snorkel you choose will be based entirely on your vehicle make and model. There is not really a universal snorkel kit out there. So instead, we’ll look at the best snorkels for the most popular 4x4s.

Best Snorkel for Toyota 4Runner, 5th Generation (2009 to 2022)

toyota 4runner snorkel

ARB Snorkel Kit Pros & Cons
  • Reasonably priced.
  • Durable construction
  • Good fitment
  • Requires cutting into your panels
  • Australian made, so requires metric step drills
  • Instruction manual can be difficult to follow.

Best Snorkel for Jeep Wrangler JL and Gladiator JT (2018 to 2022)

The best thing about getting a snorkel for your Jeep Wrangler or Gladiator is that no panels will need to be cut. You simply remove the existing panel near the hood and slide the snorkel into place. The snorkels for the Wrangler and Gladiator (2018 to 2022) fit interchangeably. 

Rugged Ridge Jeep Wrangler & Gladiator Snorkel Kit Pros & Cons
  • Reasonably affordable compared with other brands.
  • No panels need to be cut
  • Quite difficult to install if you’re a newbie.
  • Produces noise when in contact with head shield exhaust.

Best Snorkel for Toyota Tacoma (2016 to 2022)

toyota tacoma snorkel


ARB Toyota Tacoma Snorkel Pros and Cons (SS172HP)
  • Great fitment
  • Complete kit including the necessary fasteners and mounting brackets
  • Australian made, so requires metric step drills
  • Requires cutting into your panels



Best Snorkel for Toyota Tacoma (2016 to 2022)

toyota tacoma snorkel


ARB Toyota Tacoma Snorkel Pros and Cons (SS172HP)
  • Great fitment
  • Complete kit including the necessary fasteners and mounting brackets
  • Australian made, so requires metric step drills
  • Requires cutting into your panels



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