Everyone loves the idea of slapping on a snorkel and hitting the deepest mud puddles and creek crossings they can find. But there are a few things you should think about before buying that snorkel and attaching it to your beloved 4WD.
1) Quality of the snorkel
Apart from the fact that all snorkels are black and made from Linear Low-density Polyethylene (LLDPE) not much is the same. There are a number of methods and additives for the LLDPE, which can then be used to roto-mould a snorkel. Which method is used by the manufacturer is impossible to distinguish in the finished product - without microscopic testing - until it is exposed to the elements for some time. It is this that makes it extremely difficult to ensure quality at the point of purchase and why you need a trusted supplier.
The preferred method is to combine the LLDPE plastic, UV additives and colourant at the compounding stage. The ingredients are well dispersed by slowly bringing the materials to melting point together where they are combined under pressure in a molten state. This process takes longer to complete, but it provides a consistent distribution of the additives therefore providing a more robust polymer.
2) Snorkels are sealed, Airboxes are not.
One of the biggest misconceptions about snorkels is that once you attach them your engine is safe from water ingress. It is more often the case that if you install a snorkel yourself that it is not yet completely waterproof. The snorkel itself is water proof as it is a single piece of plastic however what many forget is that the existing air duct has drainage holes. These holes can easily be filled with silicon to stop any water entering through what was once a way for water to escape. For the best results it is also always a good idea to dab a bit of silicon onto any flat join surfaces to ensure a water tight seal.
3) Are you a DIY person?
When it comes to installing the snorkel are you going to do it yourself or are you going to have someone do it for you? While there are plenty of people that have successfully installed their own snorkels you may not be so handy with the tools. If you’re not going to do it yourself but still want to buy online you should make sure you find someone to install it first. Many 4WD shops won’t install product that hasn’t been bought at their store so try mechanics, panel beaters or mobile fitters as a first port of call.
While we strongly recommend that you do get it installed by a professional we understand that many enjoy working on their own vehicles. It is not uncommon to have to relocate items under the hood of your 4WD. Items such as washer bottles, dual batteries and ignition coils sometimes need to be navigated around or relocated so be prepared to do a bit of custom fabrication.
4) How dirty do you get?
The final major factor to think about when you are buying your snorkel is the snorkel head. There are a number of options that are all suitable for all environments but some offer extra levels of protection.
Air Ram – This is the most common snorkel head it is simple and will keep a large amount of water and dust out of the system by pushing it against the back of the snorkel and letting it drain out. The snorkel head has an open grill, while Sherpa 4x4 offers a stylish stainless steel grill these heads in general offer the least protection in dusty areas. Many people opt to turn the head around or add a filter “sock” if they are traversing dusty areas.
Pre-Cleaner – A Pre-cleaner head offers an extra layer of protection for those that regularly drive or are planning a long drive in sandy or dusty conditions. The Pre-cleaner creates a cyclonic condition in the bowl that spins all the dust and debris to the outside of the bowl which is then caught in a catchment area. This head increases the life of your air filter in these conditions and ultimately your engine.Bird feeder, Mushroom Head – These two snorkel heads work in the same way as the pre-cleaner, but are OEM styled. The bird feeder is simply the mushroom head with an external casing that some prefer the look and style of. These are the key points to think about when you are looking to buy a snorkel. Price is going to be a contributing factor to the final decision but the more of these you understand the more you can understand why snorkels range from $100 to $500.