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Does a snorkel improve performance? | Off-roading Snorkel guide

I assume that the concept of a jeep snorkel may arise from the snorkel of divers. Divers get the air from outside of water with the help of a snorkel for breathing when they are under the water.

Like that jeeps also use a snorkel to improve their air intake.


Really does a snorkel improve engine performance? 

Yes, snorkel can improve the overall engine performance in different ways according to road conditions.

As an example when driving on a dusty road, snorkel gives more fresh air than the stock air intake placed under the hood.

When driving on a highway the “RAM effect” can improve the fuel efficiency to some extent.

Those are just two examples I gave you briefly for how a snorkel could improve performance. 

In this article we’ll discuss How jeep snorkel works,  how it can improve performance and a snorkel buying guide for you with a few bonus tips. so go on pals.

What is a snorkel ?

Snorkel is a pipe (may be square shape or round shape) that extends the standard air intake that is placed under the hood, to the outside roof height from the driver’s or passenger’s side.

This gives cool, dry and clean air to the engine when off-roading.

Different types of snorkels

Two main types of snorkels can be seen according to the way they work.

  • Vortex snorkel 
vortex snorkel
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Land rover with vortex snorkel

This may be less common to see on jeeps than the Ram type snorkels. But this type also does a great job.

When the vehicle is moving or else stationary the air outside sucks through the blades at bottom of the snorkel head. then the air rotates around the head by the blades.

The centrifugal force that makes on air particles due to this rotation, forces dust particles and moisture away while cleaned, dry air is sucked into the engine through the snorkel tube.

Dust particles and moisture remain on the bottom of the snorkel head.

  • Ram snorkel 
RAM snorkel
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Jeep with a RAM type snorkel

This is the most common snorkel type that can be seen on off-roading jeeps.

When the vehicle is stationary Air sucks through the snorkel normally like the standard air intake.

Vehicle air cleaners do the air cleaning and drying job.

But when the vehicle moving forward air rammed into the snorkel head, through the scoop like part.

The heaviest moisture and dust particles are forced through the vents of the bottom of the snorkel head by the inner surface of the head.

The cleaned moisture free air sucked through the snorkel tube to the engine.

Vehicle air cleaner does further cleaning and drying of air.

Purpose of snorkel 

Water crossing : usually most of the off-roaders think to fit a snorkel to their vehicle for this purpose.

Standard air intake is placed under the hood. So that when crossing water, it’s easy to enter water or moisturized air through that air intake to the combustion chambers.

That can cause huge damages to the engine.

When water enters to the combustion chambers it’s hard to compress for the pistons and that leads to crank shafts bending, seizing the engine.

This phenomenon is called the hydro-locking. If the engine hydro-locked it’s costs huge money to repair it.

Some occasions engine may have to replaced.

I wrote a detailed guide about hydrolocking and how you can avoid hydrolocking in off-roading !! Click here to check that.

The easiest way to avoid those hazards and increase the depth, the vehicle can runs through the water is installing a snorkel.

Because properly installed snorkel sealed the stock air box, avoiding water leakages from their.

Snorkel raises the air intake level to the roof height and snorkel removes the moisture to some extent.

Dust :  Because of raising the height of air intake, it allows the engine to take in air from the area that the dust particle density is low.

Because due to the weight of the dust particles than the normal air particles, dust particles tend to go down than the air particles.

That means the density/ concentration of dust in air is lower in roof height than below the hood level. 

With the extra cleaning process, the snorkel reduces the contaminants entering to the air cleaner. 

How could it be possible for snorkels to improve performance ?

The main purposes of the snorkel are the above things. But apart from those purposes, as a bonus advantage you could improve the engine performance.

But don’t wish a performance improvement of a turbo booster by fitting a snorkel to your vehicle.

Improving performance is not the job of a snorkel. 

When the amount of dust and moisture entering the engine is reduced by a snorkel, that maintains the engine performance by avoiding any breakage due to entering impurities to the engine.

It will keep the air filters clean and achieve a bigger air flow. That leads to an improvement of the engine performance in one way.

Another main thing that can help to improve the performance of an engine is the Ramming effect.

When the vehicle moved forward, cool air rammed through the scooper of the snorkel head.

Mostly the air in the roof height is more cooler than the air entering under the hood.

Here theoretically two things can happen to improve the performance.

One is more cool air entering to the combustion chamber. more air rammed to the engine.

That means overall air density is increased in the combustion chamber. So it can improve the fuel efficiency of the engine to some extent.  

But keep in mind those things can vary with different conditions.

Here I just tried to give a general idea to you, how a snorkel can improve performance.

Improving performance is not the primary job of a snorkel.

Snorkel buying guide :

Different models/designs of snorkels 

Fender vent air intake in land rover
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Fender vent

Fender vent design : This is the most easiest and less obstructive snorkel mounts to the fender or cowl of the hood.

Easy to remove and fit. Low amount of hood modifications needed to fit.

This increases the air intake height less than other snorkel designs. So the water crossing depth is less.

Low profile cowl design snorkel
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Low profile cowl design snorkel

Low profile cowl design : This design is not much visible outside. This hang-over the hood and it offers a slight height improvement over the factory air box.

This also provides substantial improvement in volume of air entering to the engine than factory air box while not changing the exterior appearance of the jeep and not disturbing drivers visibility.

High profile design snorkel
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High profile design snorkel

High profile design : This is the traditional, most visible and commonly seeing snorkel design.

This mounts through the windshield frame. Gives the highest air intake height and most effective air intake during deep water crossings.

This gives the jeep to all terrain look and function. But needs modifications to the hood for proper installation with the factory air box.

May slightly obstruct the drivers visibility due to the mounting through the windshield frame.

Wrapping up

So these are the functions and different designs of snorkels. According to your vehicle model, manufacturing year snorkels that best fit your vehicle will be differ.

If you are using your vehicle for off-roading purposes and doing water or mud crossings, snorkel will be a pre insurance for your vehicle.

There are snorkels for different price ranges. I think from less than 100$ to about 600$.

You can decide what type of snorkel you need from the knowledge you get from this article while considering your budget. 

If you think this article may helpful for your off roading pals, share with them. It’s easy. You just have to click a share button below. 

Have fun and safe off-roading !!  

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