Let's go for a swim! Ok, maybe more of a wade. From the invention of the first automobile we have pushed the boundaries of land exploration, and as the vehicles ventured into more extreme terrains, air induction modifications were made to increase the vehicle's water-fording abilities. Although not just for water crossings, the snorkel may allow cooler and cleaner air to pass through your filter, but more importantly it acts as cheap insurance for all those quick dunks or unexpected water crossings along the way. Just like you and I, your truck needs air to survive, and ingesting too much water into the intake could mean lights out for the engine. The fact is that water does not allow for proper compression and when your engine sucks in the wet stuff it creates a damaging chain of events often referred to as hydro locking.
So how can you prevent your rig from suffering a watery death? The first thing that you have to accept is that your 4x4 is no replacement for your Jon boat. This means keep your truck out of the water as much as possible, especially rivers and streams where the resulting environmental damage can get your local wheeling spot shut down in a skinny minute. The next step is figuring out what snorkel is right for your truck. ARB has a wide range of snorkels available from Safari Snorkel that are designed to fit most of the popular off-road applications on the market. But if you're like us and own a vehicle that's not heavily supported by the aftermarket, you may need to get creative. We found that an '80s Toyota Land Cruiser snorkel was a great match for our '97 Ford Ranger, and once installed it looked as though it was made for the truck. Be sure to always remember that your intake is only as good as its weakest link and checking for depth and current flow is always a good idea before chancing any unfamiliar water crossing.
At the end of last year's Ultimate Adventure I decided to tear into my Ranger for some much needed maintenance and repair. While there I discovered that mud and water had made it past my filter and dried in and around my mass airflow sensor, thus making my truck increasingly difficult to start and run efficiently. Although we only spent about a day dipping in and out of the sticky Texas clay, it was enough to do some damage, which could have been much worse. If you only use your snorkel one time, it will be worth its weight in gold if it keeps you from killing your engine.
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