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What is a 4x4 snorkel?

A 4x4 snorkel is an accessory installed on four-wheel drive (4x4) vehicles to improve their water crossing capability and protect the engine from dust and water ingress. It is essentially a raised air intake system that relocates the engine's air intake point from under the hood to a higher position, often at roof level. This higher air intake position allows the vehicle to wade through deeper water without risking water entering the engine, which could cause hydrolock and significant damage.

Additionally, by drawing in air from a higher point, a snorkel can also help to provide cleaner air to the engine by avoiding dust and particulate matter typically found at lower levels, especially in off-road or dusty conditions. This can lead to improved engine performance and longevity. 

Commonly, factory air intakes are positioned in lower areas of the vehicle's engine bay or fender well. This positioning can result in the intake drawing in excessive dust, debris, or water, potentially leading to premature air filter failure or, in the case of water, causing severe engine damage.

The installation of a raised air intake stands out as a highly effective method to safeguard your vehicle against these challenges when venturing off-road. This article will provide comprehensive guidance on selecting, installing, and utilising an off-road snorkel for your 4x4 vehicle.

4x4 snorkel



Enhanced Air Quality

While commonly associated with deep water crossings, the primary advantage of a 4x4 snorkel is elevating the air intake of your 4WD vehicle well above the road surface, where most dust accumulates.

During off-road excursions, particularly on dirt or silt at high speeds, dirt and dust particles are stirred up by the vehicle, with a significant portion settling just a few feet above the road. This is precisely where the factory air intake is usually situated. An intelligently designed and properly installed raised air intake, such as an off-road snorkel, effectively positions the air inlet above the majority of dust and debris.

Cooler Air Supply

In addition to delivering cleaner air, a 4x4 snorkel also ensures a cooler air supply to the engine. The denser, cooler air entering the combustion chamber contributes to a moderate enhancement in power and can potentially improve the fuel efficiency of your 4WD vehicle.

Enhanced Safety for Water Crossings

The 4x4 snorkel, or raised air intake, is imperative for navigating truly deep water crossings. Even at bumper height, many vehicles can begin drawing in water. As water doesn't compress like air, even a small amount entering the engine's combustion chamber can cause major damage, and this is something we'd really like to avoid. When correctly fitted and sealed, a 4x4 snorkel draws air from a higher point, well above the typical depth of water crossings.

It's crucial to note that raising the air intake with a 4x4 snorkel is just one aspect of safely crossing deep water in your vehicle.

Additional measures include;

Waterproofing the Ignition System: Petrol engines necessitate a water-sealed high-voltage ignition system to safely cross water at the depth permitted by a 4x4 snorkel. Modern distributorless ignitions (such as coil packs) are generally well-sealed, particularly in newer utes and SUVs.

Elevating Differential and Gearbox Breathers: To prevent water from entering the gear oil and potentially causing damage to critical components, it's essential to extend and raise the breathers for the differential and gearbox. Extend the lines to the highest point in the engine bay or another elevated, dry location on the vehicle.

Exercising Caution in Water Crossings: Always check the depth before attempting to cross water, adhering to the general rule of not crossing standing water above hood height and avoiding fast-moving water exceeding the vehicle's axle height. Some crossings will have a measurement stick to help you guage the depth of the water. 

4x4 snorkel



A diverse array of off-road snorkels are available in the market, most tailored to the specific year, make, and model of your car, 4x4, or SUV. This ensures a seamless attachment to the factory air intake, complementing your vehicle's body shape and styling. Notably, the Safari 4x4 Snorkel stands out as the benchmark in off-road snorkels. Pioneering the concept of a raised air intake designed explicitly for 4WD use, it employs high-quality UV-stable polyethylene for the body and robust EPDM molded rubber ducting.

Originating from the demanding conditions of the Australian outback, the Safari 4x4 Snorkel has undergone extensive testing on vehicles worldwide over the past 40+ years. It is the preferred choice for our personal vehicles and comes highly recommended for those seeking to enhance their off-road travels with a 4x4 snorkel.



The Safari 4x4 Snorkel includes comprehensive instructions with clear installation drawings and a detailed component list specific to your vehicle. While installation procedures may vary depending on the vehicle's year, make, and model, the following guide, provides a general overview of the process;

  1. Remove Fender Flares (if equipped)
  2. Remove Fender Liner (and antenna if applicable)
  3. Affix the template to the vehicle body with painter’s tape, aligning it with the body lines as per the supplied directions.
  4. Drill mounting stud and air inlet holes at the indicated locations on the template.
  5. Thread three stainless steel mounting studs into the snorkel body's threaded inserts.
  6. Mount the pillar bracket to the snorkel using supplied hex bolts. Temporarily position the snorkel on the vehicle and mark the A-pillar at the mounting hole locations on the bracket. Remove the snorkel.
  7. Using a center punch, drill the three marked holes on the A-pillar. Ensure proper alignment.
  8. Deburr the holes and apply paint to prevent rust.
  9. Insert plastic body clips into the A-pillar holes.
  10. Attach the snorkel to the vehicle, fastening the lower mounting stud. Mount the pillar bracket to the truck using supplied screws.
  11. Secure the remaining studs to the vehicle’s fender, a challenging process requiring careful fitting of washers and nuts.
  12. Seal the intake system by applying a sensor-safe sealant to connection points.
  13. Fit the snorkel's flexible air entry hose with supplied hose clamps, connecting it to the intake tube and snorkel body.
  14. Reattach the radio antennae (if removed), reinstall the inner fender liner, and reinstall the fender flare. Secure the snorkel head to the body using the supplied black hose clamp.

Your 4x4 snorkel is now installed, elevating your air intake above dust and water!

Safari snorkel



Maintenance for a installed 4x4 snorkel is minimal. However, if you choose to use the factory ram air intake head instead of a pre-cleaner, consider the following for different conditions;

  1. Normal On-Road Driving; Position the snorkel head forward-facing for optimal air flow, enhancing power and efficiency.
  2. Dusty or Inclement Weather; Position the snorkel head rear-facing to mitigate the ingress of dust, water, or snow into the vehicle's intake.

For those utilising a snorkel with a pre-cleaner, repositioning is unnecessary, regardless of weather or road conditions.


Be mindful of low-hanging branches on tight trails, as the snorkel head can easily catch on them. Turning the snorkel head rear-facing may help in such situations, but exercise caution to prevent potential damage to the snorkel or the vehicle's body.

In conclusion, understanding and implementing the use of off-road 4x4 snorkels can significantly enhance the performance, durability, and safety of your vehicle in challenging environments. Whether it's crossing deep waters, navigating through dusty trails, or simply ensuring that your engine breathes the cleanest and coolest air possible, a well-chosen and correctly installed snorkel is an invaluable asset for any off-road enthusiast. The comprehensive guide provided here, from selecting the right snorkel for your vehicle to installation and usage tips, aims to equip you with the knowledge to make informed decisions about this crucial piece of off-road equipment. Remember, while a snorkel enhances your vehicle's capabilities, always approach off-road challenges with respect for your vehicle's limits and the environment. Happy 4WDing!

Brixton 4x4 Adventure has a huge range of snorkels on our online store. We ship all around Australia so no matter what your snorkel needs, Brixton 4x4 can help you find it. With online chat available everyday, all your questions can be answered quickly, getting you back to your adventures in the great outdoors! 
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