A rundown on Snorkels Materials and Snorkels Head types

A snorkel is more than just a great way to improve the look of your 4×4; it also improves the overall performance of your vehicle.

You might think snorkels only help with water crossings and wading, but that’s a common misconception.

The benefits of a 4×4 snorkel go beyond helping you explore off road. They work wonders for your engine on-road and off. How? By elevating your air intake with a snorkel, you’re drawing in air that is cooler and cleaner than air drawn in around your engine bay.

This helps take better care of your engine meaning you can enjoy better overall performance and reduced maintenance. Do right by your engine, and it will do right by you.

Your rig should suit your individual lifestyle, so why should your snorkel be any different? There are plenty of great options when it comes to choosing the right 4×4 snorkel for you and your rig.

So, before you rush out to buy whichever snorkel looks best on your fourby, here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know to make an informed choice. Don’t just buy the best-looking snorkel. Buy the best snorkel for your lifestyle.

What Are Snorkels Made Of?

4×4 snorkels are built from a range of materials, each changing the properties of the snorkel itself.

LLDPE Plastic

Linear Low Density Polyethylene (LLDPE) is commonly used in most commercially available snorkels due to its durability and UV resistance. You can expect LLDPE plastic to be combined with a carbon black raw additive. This gives the snorkel a black finish that looks great, as well as better UV protection so that you don’t need to worry about colour fading.

LLDPE plastic snorkels are often roto-moulded to suit individual vehicle models. This allows the snorkel to better hug the vehicle’s body. Another positive of this material is that snorkels are often built as a single piece, removing the need for joints or sealers that may need constant upkeep.


PVC piping is a common sight in DIY snorkel builds due to its affordable price. However, the downside to this affordability is that PVC snorkels simply do not have the durability and longevity of other materials. PVC can become brittle quickly after extended exposure to the elements.

Another point to remember is that PVC snorkels are not built in a single piece and as such may require more frequent maintenance and repair.

If you’re considering a PVC snorkel for your vehicle, consider whether the benefit of the upfront cheap price will outweigh the need (and additional cost) for constant repair.

Mild Steel

A mid-range material that gives you the same great look as stainless steel at a lower cost, and offers better durability than PVC piping.

There are a lot of positives and negatives to using mild steel for your 4×4 snorkel. Positives include excellent malleability to help in customization for your rig, as well as having great ductility. You can shape mild steel to your needs without losing any toughness. The downside to mild steel is that it requires a fair bit of work to prepare it to face the elements. This material is prone to rusting and will need to be painted both in and out of the snorkel, or be galvanised. Doing this means losing that great sleek look similar to stainless steel.

Stainless Steel

Another common material used for DIY snorkels thanks to its great look and tough nature. Stainless steel can get scuffed and knocked but will won’t lose any integrity. Stainless steel snorkels aren’t the cheapest option available, but your money will go a long way.

For the sturdiest joints in a stainless steel snorkel, opt for TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welded joints. You can usually also choose a rubber joint or elbow if you’d prefer.

While stainless steel may at a glance appear to be the easy choice, be aware that stainless steel snorkels produce a lot of induction sound compared to other materials. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing! It can be great to really hear your engine “breathe” through the snorkel. Of course, a louder driving experience isn’t for everyone.

What Types of Snorkel Heads Are There?

The snorkel head is where dust, water, and other contaminants are separated from the air before it travels down the snorkel and into the engine. The two most common snorkel heads are:

Air Ram Head

This snorkel head works as its name suggests, letting air ram into the snorkel as your vehicle moves. Water, dust, and other contaminants are then forced against the side of the snorkel head, and from there gravity does the rest. The contaminants drop down the head and are then filtered out through small vents located along the side of the top of the snorkel body.

Air ram snorkel heads can face forward or backwards and still work, although some are designed to face only a single way. Facing the head backwards is more ideal when driving at slower speeds thanks to a naturally occurring vacuum effect.

Vortex Head (aka Cyclone Head)

Perfectly suited for harsh conditions, this type of snorkel head uses centrifugal force to separate air from contaminants. Air is pushed up and through angled blades that encourage the air to rotate circularly in the snorkel head. This pushes any contaminants out of the head while the air is forced to the top of the head and then down through the middle.

If you’re often taking your 4WD through harsh conditions where you face a lot of dust or other contaminants, a vortex head is likely to suit you and your rig. This is because a vortex head is more effective than an air ram head at filtering dust in particular.

Be aware that unlike an air ram head, contaminants are collected in a receptacle and are not immediately expelled.

If you’re still unsure of what 4×4 snorkel head is best for you, get in contact with Total 4×4 today.

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