A snorkel is a device that is used to funnel air from a different location of the car to the air filter and into the intake manifold. Snorkels are either mounted on the hood of the car, like late-model Hummer H1s, or they are mounted up higher on top of the roof of the car right where the roof begins. This is the most common because it allows a higher region of air to pass through.
Usually, if you either install a snorkel or buy a brand new one with a factory-installed snorkel, it’ll usually be for any off-road vehicle. This is because if you drive through water, you don’t want any of that water going into your intake. You won’t see snorkels on sedans or sports cars. As long as the snorkel is above water your engine won’t drown. However, it turns out, that some people have been putting snorkels on their Toyota 4Runners not for water, but for sand as well.
According to a recent post on Facebook’s Toyota 4Runners group, James Bender said, “Has anyone actually drove deep enough to need a snorkel?” now, nine times out of ten, if you see a big SUV with some big tires and a snorkel, it’s probably for looks and the snorkel is probably never used. However, I took a look at the posts’ comment section, and it showed that these snorkels are actually used for sand running and dust protection more than running through water.
Lloyd Smith commented saying, “Most people use it for dust protection if they go off-roading with other vehicles.” In Dubai, there are lots of sand off-roading tournaments that take place and on almost every 30-year-old clapped-out Nissan Patrol, there is a snorkel with a few stickers on it. If you get sand in your filter that prohibits good airflow because of the restricted passage through the filter. God forbid you to get sand in your engine.
Now before you bash the high schoolers for putting eBay snorkels on their mom’s 4Runner, they are actually doing themselves a favor. On the highway, a lot of dust and dirty air gets sucked into the intake and the filter gets pretty dusty. By adding a snorkel to everyday driving, not only do you look cooler, but you also just extended the life of your air filter by about half.
Granted, a snorkel is extremely un-aerodynamic, and it is literally the anti-gas efficiency. The higher up you put it the more drag you create because it doesn’t dissipate air correctly. In other terms, if you already drive an old 4runner with terrible gas mileage, prepare to get even worse gas mileage with a snorkel. If I lived in Nevada or New Mexico, I would definitely add snorkels to my SUV considering how dusty it is.
If you are good at math, you could determine if the lost fuel efficiency cost outweighs the price of an air filter, which it probably does and, in that case, could conclude that you wouldn’t need one for everyday driving.
What do you think? Would you add a snorkel to your Toyota 4Runner? Let us know in the comments below.
Harutiun Hareyan is reporting Toyota news at Torque News. His automotive interests and vast experience test-riding new cars give his stories a sense of authenticity and unique insights. Follow Harutiun on Twitter at @HareyanHarutiun for daily Toyota news.