As off-roading aficionados, we tend to view ourselves as trailblazers. We go where the average car wouldn’t dare tread for fear of getting stuck. But there are some obstacles that even the most experienced driver with the biggest rig may have trouble navigating.
But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and that way is an additional upgrade to your 4x4. Ahead, we’re going over snorkels and all the ways snorkels improve your off-roading performance.
What Is an Off-Roading Snorkel?
Snorkels attach to the side of your vehicle to adjust where air enters the engine. Rather than entering from the front near the bumper, like on a typical car, air enters from a higher location above the headlights. The concept is simple, but the benefits of snorkels for your off-road performance are abundant.
Improves Water Travel
When your vehicle is lifted and equipped with heavy-duty tires, it’s easy to feel invincible enough to cross a body of water. But if the bumper is low enough to touch the surface at all, water can get sucked directly into the engine, stalling it. Worse, it may lead to fluid contamination, compression issues, and irreparable damage.
Fortunately, like snorkels you take swimming, snorkels change where air enters the engine. This allows you to cross much deeper bodies of water than you would have been able to cross before.
Improves Handling in Deep Snow
You can potentially run into similar problems if you decide to go off-roading through several feet of snow. Fortunately, a snorkel can offer the same protection for your vehicle in the snow.
However, keep in mind the snorkel will pull whatever is in the air directly into the engine. To avoid pulling in falling snow, it’s important to keep your snorkel facing backward when you’re driving through heavy snowfall.
Better Rain Travel
Even a normal off-roading venture that doesn’t involve fording streams or tackling snowdrifts can still expose your engine to moisture. A sudden downpour can turn previously dusty trails into mud pits, and then turn those mud pits into standing water you have to cross. For this, you can turn the snorkel head backward the same way you would in heavy snow.
Takes Strain off Filtration
Whatever your off-roading trip looks like, it’ll likely be hard on an engine. Air intake valves, like snorkels, pull anything in the air into the engine. And when your intake is right by the bumper, it’s right where road dust, sand, and mud are being kicked into the air.
Your vehicle is already equipped with filtration systems that keep some of this dust out of the engine, but the volume of debris you run into when you’re off-roading can quickly push your air filters to the limit. Snorkels, along with pulling in cleaner air, have additional filtration systems to take some of that strain off.
Protects Engines From Debris
Let’s say your filtration system failed you, and you had all that dust and dirt enter your engine. This could be disastrous for your ride. A few things that might occur include:
- Degradation of piston rings
- Decreased combustion efficiency
- Damage to your vehicle’s mass airflow sensor
- Silica contamination
- Fracturing of electrical wiring
Want to increase how much debris you keep out of your engine? You can add a pre-cleaner upgrade to your snorkel to help remove large debris from the air before it enters the engine for even greater engine protection.
Increases Fuel Efficiency
When we need a small flame to burn more effectively, we add cool air either through our own breath or a bellows. The same is true of our combustion engines.
When you have a snorkel facing forward on a vehicle while you’re traveling forward, a phenomenon called the ram effect occurs. As you move forward, cold air gets “rammed” down the snorkel into the engine. The increased air density under the hood should help make the engine work more smoothly, increasing fuel efficiency.
Keeps Engine Cool
The cool air sent directly into the combustion chamber can also help keep engines cooler, preventing excessive heat. Overheating can cause severe damage to an engine, including:
- Warped cylinder heads
- Expanding coolant
- Burst fluid hoses
- Broken head gaskets
- Melted engine components
A cooler engine also leads to air conditioning that functions better. And when your air conditioning is able to work more efficiently, it contributes to improved fuel efficiency.
Decreases Maintenance Costs
Off-roading isn’t exactly a cheap hobby. And any time you have to perform additional maintenance, it takes away funds that you could put toward improving your off-roading performance in other ways.
Given all the wear and tear that snorkels protect against, it’s not a far leap to say that snorkels save money on costly engine maintenance. And the less money you spend on repairing your engine, the more you can invest in better tires or a bumper upgrade.
When you’re off-roading, you’re already living life on the edge compared to a leisurely drive on the road. There are obstacles, unpredictable trail conditions, and wildlife with which you may contend. The only thing that could make your off-roading adventure riskier is if your 4x4’s engine suddenly stalled.
In other words, reducing wear and tear on your engine isn’t just about saving money. It’s about keeping yourself and your rig safe when you’re off blazing the trails.
Adds to Vehicle Longevity
Needless to say, not being as rough on your engine is good for the engine. An engine that you treat with care won’t break down as frequently, and an engine that doesn’t break down as frequently is far more likely to last longer. You don’t need us to tell you that a functioning off-road vehicle is step one to a high-performing one.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and whether you’re facing a stream or a sand dune, snorkels are the way to make your next off-roading trip a success. Ironman 4x4 has off-road snorkels and accessories ready to equip to your rig to overcome every off-roading obstacle.