Why add a snorkel and snorkel head pre-cleaner to your off-road vehicle?

Turning your Jeep, truck or SUV into a submarine might sound like the main reason to install one, but this is more of fantasy from a James Bond film, there are actually lots of other reasons for you to consider. Don’t get me wrong, a snorkel is a great addition to your off-road vehicle. It does allow you to go deeper into the water (does not turn your 4x4 into a boat), but it also moves your engine air intake to where the air is cleaner and it looks pretty cool for those admiring your off-road machine. 

So while adding a snorkel does help if you are frequently crossing water, there are other benefits that you will find in dusty environments. The snorkel essentially functions as a cold air intake. The air is no longer coming in next to your hot engine, which greatly helps with cooler air and better engine performance. It’s also good for when you are in “convoy” with you other offroading buddies. 

Most air intakes are about headlight level which can get really dusty. Check this out yourself next time you get back from riding a dusty trail. Everything under your hood is going to have a lot of dust it in, especially if you are dealing with beach or desert sand, it can get everywhere! So bringing your air intake out from under the hood and up to about the height of your vehicle you are already helping your engine filter out as less of the dust getting stirred up from the trail.  

Sounds great right? Well for some snorkel owners it’s not all roses. Offroaders with snorkels are often seen having to turn their snorkel head to not face forward when in heavy rain, snow or dusty environments. Even in the new Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro they encourage drivers to rotate the head of the snorkel in environments like these.  

If you follow these rules of turning your snorkel head or not, without a pre-cleaner of some sort you are risking the intake of larger debris. Large debris hitting your air filter can rip it, causing filter clogging and rainwater reaching your air filter can clog the filter creating problems like restriction on your engine. A key part when understanding filters is that if a filter is miss-matched and the particles hitting it are not within the right range the filter is set up for quicker clogging.  

Some of the examples of the ideal environments for your snorkel pre-cleaner are the Beach, desert, rain, or snowy day. 

Traditional snorkel heads try their best to remove debris and redirect water. Below is the concept behind this type of snorkel head. 

As you can see it looks like it would work based on this diagram. But come on, what is really stopping a large amount of the debris from coming in, sure this might help divert some of the rain but there is nothing really stopping rain from going into the middle of the snorkel head. Essentially you are letting fate decide on if something gets in via this snorkel head. The design might help deflect some debris but a large amount of air is enting your snorkel without being removed.

One of the other popular solutions is something that looks and is even commonly referred to as a dust bowl. This product using intake vents on the bottom of the pre-cleaner to slightly rotate the air and that pushes some of the debris into the bowl that surrounds the snorkel inlet. While this concept still works better than traditional snorkel heads, you have do dump it out as it will collect dust and debris. You can see this in the photo below: 

Many pre-cleaners like this can be seen on heavy equipment and offroad snorkels, it is more prone to needing frequent maintenance as dust and even water can build up in its collector.  As seen on this video where water somehow got into the dust collector. 


So why would you want to stop on the trail to dump your dust bowl or turn your snorkel head? It’s one more easily forgettable thing that won’t be easily forgotten if you end up destroying your engine filter.

It’s problems like these that led to the creation of pre-cleaners that use centrifugal force, like the Sy-Klone Series 9000. Where a rotor spins on the inside of the pre-cleaner that ejects particles out of the air by some fun physics. By sping the air it accelerates the particles coming in and pushes them to an ejection slit on the outside wall of the pre-cleaner. Effectly solving the problems of debris building up in a collector. 

Using a snorkel pre-filter with some serious science behind it will remove a significant amount more of the debris before the air goes into your snorkel. As you can see from this diagram, the air comes in at the bottom of the dome, it’s then spun to the inner wall of the dome by the centrifugal force created by the rotor and ejected out. 

Here is a video showing how the pre-cleaner works. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6AxqFVipbA

So, centrifugal force, what is it anyway? This about the force you feel when on a spinning carnival ride like the one below. As you start to gain speed the outward force pulls you away from the center. 

The same feeling you have on this ride is the same way the rain, dust or other debris will feel when they enter the spinning air in the dome created by the rotor inside. The means that particles with a large mass that could make it to your filter are ejected out by using centrifugal force.

Another example of centrifugal force is when you spin a rope that has a weighted object at the end of it. The more you spin the more force is pushing out the heavy object.


It’s this kind of technology that won the bid to be the pre-cleaner of choice for the humvee replacement, the  JLTV. It’s also one of the leading pre-cleaners for heavy equipment working in environments with lots of particles in the area. Below is a picture of the Sy-Klone Pre-Cleaner on the new JLTV.

By adding a Sy-Klone Series 9000 to your snorkel you and your engine can breathe worry-free in the worst or offroaders might say best environments. It’s a great way to put a finishing touch on your snorkel that extends your filter life, increases intake performance and removes your worries about water coming in your snorkel head.

Fell free to shoot us an email or give us a call with questions about the snorkel pre-cleaner, installation or want to share some of your experiences offroading!