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If you’ve never seen a truck with a snorkel on it, you’re not alone. Most people have never even heard of snorkels on a vehicle, much less have one, but believe it or not, it’s an actual thing. 

No, it doesn’t help your beloved truck breathe underwater like a fish, although that would be incredibly cool. It’s also not going to transform your truck into the Batmobile so you can drive underwater as if you’re in a submarine.

So what is it, and what does it have to do with WWI and WWII? The Adventure Portal has the answers.

What is a truck snorkel?

The short answer? It’s an upgrade for your truck that makes crossing bodies of deep water easier. If you’re curious about why this is important, it keeps your engine from becoming damaged. 

Even though it looks like a smokestack on a steam engine car, it helps your vehicle to improve its power and fuel efficiency. It also makes life easier while crossing large bodies of water.

In typical situations when you’re driving your truck from point A to point B, the chances of you crossing a river where there is no bridge are slim to none. You’ll probably be driving to the grocery store or work. 

If you’re on an off-road trip that requires crossing a deep creek to get to your favorite camping site, however, having a snorkel can save you a lot of heartache.

Most places you go off-roading aren’t going to have a great cell phone signal, so if your engine becomes waterlogged, Enterprise is probably not coming to pick you up. 

This is where the snorkel comes in.

How long have snorkels been around?

The snorkel has been on the scene since before WW1, so over 100 years. Who knew?

The army first began using snorkels on tanks and submarines. After the war, the snorkel escaped retirement by being used on transport vehicles and tractors. 

The snorkel made a return in WWII to the army as an addition to tanks used in the Pacific. According to Tank Archives:

“The M8 was also used in the Pacific. Here they proved themselves to be effective infantry support. The vehicles were equipped with snorkels during landings, which allowed them to land into shallow water. Crews often had to use the AA machine gun, but largely to fire at ground targets.”

How does the snorkel work?

It all begins with a brilliant little system known as the cold air induction system.

 How Stuff Works states:

“Think of a factory air intake system as like having a cold that clogs up your head and restricts your breathing. Now go running. It’s not going to work very well, is it? A cold air intake is like amazing medicine that allows your engine to finally breath.”

The Adventure Portal states that the air is pulled in from the roof level. This is because the air is less disturbed at that level, making it cooler and cleaner. The air closer to the engine is hot and full of contaminants being put out by your vehicle, so it’s not suitable to use. This probably explains why truck snorkels are so tall and thin.

Your vehicle is benefited by this because a computer on it, or on modern vehicles at least, measures the input being taken in by your vehicle. The cooler air helps it function more efficiently, thus giving you more power and better fuel economy.

How much do truck snorkels cost?

While you may be holding your breath, waiting to hear a price of several thousands of dollars, snorkels actually don’t cost that much. According to 4WP, truck snorkel kits cost anywhere from $400 to $700.

That’s actually not that bad for something that looks sort of cool and is also a great conversation starter. If you install one of these gadgets, you’ll doubtless have tons of people asking what it is, and why you have it.


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