A proper overland vehicle is built not for what you plan on encountering but for what you did not plan on. Things happen – tires go flat, parts break, ledges give way – you get the point. What defines us is not the gear that we bring but how we utilize that gear to respond to the obstacles that arise on our journeys. Knowing that things happen, however, we must outfit our rigs with items to mitigate the risks – both the known and unknown.
As I write this article, the Offroad NC crew is prepping for next year’s adventures. Most of our focus to date has been centered on the mountains of our great state. However, new chapters must be written. New doors opened. New worlds explored. With several exciting trips already on the calendar, we realized that we must get our rigs ready for whatever environment we face. We knew that our vehicles would benefit from a raised air intake both for water situations and for convoying on the dusty trails that we so often find ourselves traveling on.
The Jeep Cherokee XJ has two traditional snorkel manufacturers and a slew of cheap knockoffs readily available. With consideration given to the overall appearance, function, and mounting style, we knew that the Airflow America snorkel was the best fit for our needs. Luckily, JP at Airflow America believed in our mission and was able to come on board with us as a sponsor of Offroad NC. This article will walk through the installation of the snorkel and provide my feedback on the unit.
The snorkel and all components come inside a bright orange bag. A box would be appreciated for shipping protection but there was no damage noted to our unit and, after all, if it was that flimsy it would not be very useful in the wooded trails of the southeast.
Detail of the parts provided. Clamps, hoses, a pillar brackets, snorkel tube, intake head, instructions, intake flanges, and cutout template. I believe this p/n may be applicable for multiple vehicles as not all components were used for installation.
Obligatory before shot.
First step is to clear all obstructions from the work area. On the XJ you will need to remove the fender flare and get the inner fender guard and washer reservoir bottle out of the way. Note that you do not need to completely remove them as they will be reinstalled once the snorkel is in place.
Next step is to cut out the template on the dotted lines and tape it as instructed to the fender, being mindful to follow the contour of the body lines and the a pillar.
Once properly situated, measure multiple times to ensure the template is identical to the snorkel. On our unit we did find that the rearmost fender mounting hole was slightly off from the snorkel tube. Measure thrice, cut once.
Once the template is properly in place, drill out the mounting holes and a pilot hole for the intake hole. Then cut out the intake hole using a 3 inch holesaw. You will be passing through both the outer fender and 2 layers of inner fender so be sure to get your wiring harness out of the way prior to finishing the cut.
Test fit the snorkel by inserting into the large intake hole. Also, thread the mounting studs into the snorkel body to mount to the outer fender.
Once the snorkel is satisfactorily mounted, it is time to prepare the factory air box for the unit. Remove the box from the Jeep as you will be drilling another large hole for mounting the intake flange.
You will need to file down the plastic support ribs on the back of the box to get the flange to mount flush to the box.
Finally, you need to bend some scrap metal and screw to the front of the box to cover up the OEM intake hole. We would prefer a fabbed plastic cover to easily cover this up but no big deal.
With the air box remounted in the engine bay, run the supplied flex tubing to connect the air box to the snorkel.
To mount the upper snorkel tube to the a pillar, loosely fit the angle bracket to the snorkel and drill the corresponding holes on the inside of the pillar using the bracket as a guide. Note you will need to remove the weatherstrip to access this area (it will be reinstalled). I opted for rivets rather than the supplied self tappers.
And that is it! Some glamour shots:
Overall, I much prefer the design and mounting system of the Airflow unit to the other manufacturers. It looks better, has a more modern appearance, and has a more direct path to the airbox (thus, less air restriction). I would prefer an oem airbox cap be provided and the template to be spot on. However, these are minor imperfections to an otherwise very high quality unit. We are pleased with the fit and function and know the Airflow snorkel will serve us well on our upcoming adventures.