Sunday, April 6, 2008

Grand Cherokee ZJ: ARB Safari Snorkel Install Review Thanksgiving 2014 update!

***********************  Edit Thanksgiving 2014  ***********************

I did this install 5 years ago. I must get an email every week about if i have the original instructions...Sadly i don't. But i have sourced up some help for anyone looking for such.


ARB PDF Install instructions from my Dropbox

Imagine you are out on a backcountry camping trip in your fully equipped (or so you think) off road rig. As you are enjoying your day cruising the wooded ORV park, you sit, feeling mighty, without worry as you climb over boulders the size of Honda Civics and crawl up muddy/rocky inclines that would make mountain goats cringe. Your rig can do it all, you think to yourself. Suddenly, a bad storm comes in, much worse then what was mentioned earlier as you entered the park, talking to your buddies on the CB. As you try to get back to camp, the dry creek beds that you easily crawled thru earlier are now raging rapids, seemingly a few feet deep (at least). You start to cross without much thought or worry, knowing how capable your rig is. You put your front tires down the bank and dip your hood in to hear the unmistakable gurgle of your air intake slurping down gallons of water… Your truck stalls, and you are STUCK there with a hydro locked motor.

This situation may sound unlikely (or you are too man to admit that even the best of us run into big problems), but for the people that it has happened to, with and without warning, they would tell you otherwise. The way you can solve this problem is with a snorkel kit. A snorkel for a vehicle is the same idea as a snorkel for a person swimming. It keeps the air intake of your off-road truck above the roof, that way you can clear river crossings, the occasional mud hole your buddies dare you to cross (and don’t tell you that its actually 4 feet deep) or any other water situation you encounter. There are also other benefits to it. (besides looking absolutely awesome) They can provide you with cleaner air in dusty environments, cooler air with a ram type effect for better combustion and sometimes fuel efficiency and also it looks ABSOLUTELY AWESOME. (When something on an off-road vehicle makes a 65 year old woman in a car in the next lane at a traffic light, roll her window down and ask you what it does, You KNOW it’s pretty cool.)
If you are like me, and own a ZJ bodied Jeep Grand Cherokee, you may be surprised to find out that no one has designed a snorkel kit for them. Until now! (January 2008). For the last few years, many people including myself have been following the ARB press releases closely, awaiting the arrival of the Safari Snorkel Release for the 1993-1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Unfortunately the release was pushed back many times due to problems with ARB Australia actually finding a ZJ to get in their shop to get the product designed (apparently they aren’t very common over there). I sent many an email to ARB’s US division, asking for updates and information on the product’s release, pictures, pricings and info I could get my grubby paws on. Eventually I was in contact with Jim Jackson, the President of the US division of ARB. I exchanged emails with Mr. Jackson, and he updated me as he got information on the product. He also was kind enough to show support for the ZJ wheelers by sending me one of the first ARB Safari Snorkel kits to land on US shores, to demo on my own personal trail vehicle. He also put me into touch with his Tech Manager Marc Bowers. After going through the install process with Mark, I felt confident that my crack squad of mechanics and I could get the job done with no hiccups. Mark Also mentioned to me about the design and production process, telling me that every Safari Snorkel kit made is flow tested, and dyno’d to make sure that has no reductions in performance (and typically yields added performance). This alone shows the dedication to quality that ARB is known for.

After receiving the kit, I inspected the contents. Impressed to find a VERY thorough instruction and install manual, templates for drilling and all modifications to the factory airbox, and all the necessary parts to install. The only things I needed to install this kit were a 4 ¾” hole saw for making the large hole in the fender for the snorkel tube to pass thru. I actually found out that a 5” hole saw was MUCH cheaper (about 5 dollars) and worked just as well. The extra 1/8” of diameter was covered up by the snorkel assembly just fine. I also purchased a pop rivet gun because the install required the use of pop rivets for the windshield bracket and the airbox blank off plate for the existing air inlet. The last purchased item was some black automotive silicon sealant made by GE that was waterproof, flexible yet strong, UV resistant, oil/grease/dirt resistant and also resistant to varying changes in temperatures.
I was initially going to walk through the install step by step, but afterwards I feel that the install went more smoothly than ANY other modification I have EVER performed on ANY vehicle. This kit is so complete and the instructions are so detailed, that you’d have to be doing something very wrong to mess it up. Overall the fit and finish of the kit is Top notch and worth every penny that it costs. The installation took about 3 ½ - 4 hours with basic tools (drill, ratchet, sockets, air saw, tin snips, hole saw, pop rivets, silicon sealant). The kit looks like it was an OEM component and uses the factory parts making sure that you can continue to use either you OEM air filter, or an aftermarket drop in replacement like a K&N. Here are some pictures of the process throughout the installation. If you have any questions regarding the installation, either email me or you can view a PDF copy of the installation instructions here.

My first seat-of-the-pants driving impression is that you can hear the snarl of the intake when you step on the gas hard. It sounds like any other upgraded intake system, except this one uses about 4 feet more tubing to get the job done. Day to day driving, I have noticed that my MPG has slightly increased, by about .5-1.5 MPG better. I also noticed better throttle response and slightly more oomph on the hwy. It seems like the Jeep doesn't have to downshift on every slight uphill grade that I come to. I wouldn’t add this part just for performance benefits, but the benefits are welcomed.

Last weekend, I was able to attend a Maryland Jeep Club meeting at Rausch Creek Off-Road Park in Pennsylvania. Upon arrival, I noticed the weather was not in our favor. It was cold, rainy and foggy. Although these weren’t perfect conditions for rockcrawling, they could make a good test bed for the ARB Safari Snorkel kit. As our group aired down our tires and went over the game plan for the day, went over safety regulations and all synchronized cb’s. Everyone joked about seeing the snorkel in action. The mention of “Hummer Hole” and “Frog pond” kept getting tossed about, i guess trying to talk me into creating some sort of entertainment through carnage.

To make this post somewhat dial-up friendly, i have added links to some videos for the day.

In the woods

Rock Garden

Cresting a Good sized Hill

Runaway Rubicon

CJ playing + Hillybilly Fender Fixins

Fast forward a few hours, as we stumble across “Hummer Hole” I was delighted to see that someone else had already tried it for the day (without a snorkel, or good results). Their jeep wrangler sat helpless in the hole, sunk nearly to the hood on the drivers side. We lent a hand and after a while managed to scoop them out to safety. While their jeep was not hydro locked, it was damaged. They managed to rip off the evap canister, fry some wiring, and get water in the differentials. After seeing the hole (which was mostly a 2” layer of ice at the top of a mud hole that was 4 feet deep at least), we all decided it was a pretty sloppy hole and that nothing good was going to come of it, and wasn’t worth damaging the jeep just to try out the snorkel. We decided to look for a river crossing that may have cleaner conditions and allow for a little dip for the hood to sink under on the approach. Unfortunately, we were unable to find such a crossing (at least deep enough to realize the full potential of the snorkel) even though we did get to find some water crossings and puddles that were decent to splash around in.
Though I haven’t had the ability to go thru hood deep water to try out the kit in real life situations, I do know that the snorkel is fully sealed. After the install, before I put the top angled intake tube on, I was able to start the jeep, put my hand over the hole and was able to choke the motor out by doing so (which means no air is going to the engine from anywhere else) So basically I know the kit will do its job when the time comes.
The bottom line is this: If you want to protect your engine from water, you can do no better then the ARB Safari Snorkel kit. The quality, fit and finish is some of the best around and you will not be left with a bad taste in your mouth. The money spent on this system can save you LOTS of money down the road if you happen to catch yourself in deeper water than you should be in.
I would like to thank my Crack squad of installers as well as Jim Jackson and Marc from ARB USA for the snorkel kit for the review, the Maryland Jeep Club for the great offroading and my girlfriend for taking the pictures and video (and putting up with my ZJ obsession).
And for a closing picture, a playful pose from Sandy the ZJ.

No comments: