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How to Modify a Pre-1996 Cherokee XJ Snorkel to Fit on a 1997-2001 Jeep Cherokee XJ New Body Style

GChanMako enjoys working on, improving, and modifying his Jeeps.

Snorkel Kit

Snorkel Kit

Why a Snorkel for the Jeep Cherokee XJ?

A snorkel is a replacement air intake kit that replaces your stock air intake system with a closed system that is mounted higher on your Jeep. This allows for two advantages over a cold air intake and stock intake air system.

  1. With an enclosed air intake system and a higher mounting point on the Jeep, a snorkel allows you to make water crossings without damage to the engine. A common problem in water crossing is a "hydro-locked engine," which is when water enters the engine, usually through the air intake, and locks the pistons. The engine locks and shuts off because water is not compressible. Hydro-locking can cause tremendous damage to the engine and can happen even when crossing a puddle of water at high speed.
  2. The second advantage is that a higher mounting point will allow you to bring in cleaner and cooler air. This is important for the running and longevity of your engine.

And besides these two things, a snorkel just looks cool. And when mounted on your Jeep Cherokee XJ, it says to the world you are ready for Scuba, or at the very least you are a serious off-roader.

Newer body style Jeep Cherokee XJ 1997-2001 with a modified snorkel on it.

Newer body style Jeep Cherokee XJ 1997-2001 with a modified snorkel on it.

Tools and Supplies Needed to Modify the Snorkel

  • 84mm Hole Saw
  • Grinder
  • Drill and Bits
  • Cut-Off Wheel
  • Pop-Rivet Gun
  • Loctite
  • Silicon Glue
  • Piece of sheet metal, four small screws
  • Extra Clamps
  • Pipe Piece, over sized rubber sleeve

Instructions to Modify the Snorkel

First make sure you have all the parts of the snorkel in your kit and have read these instructions thoroughly.

Make sure you get the extra items you will need that are not included in your kit so you are not delayed in your installation.

You should have the clamps, rivets, studs, bracket, and bolt and nuts.

In addition the snorkel is the biggest part, the head, and the airbox adapter and a long flexible hose.

In some cases you will have a template to drill holes into the body at the front fender and we may use this later.

Check your instructions included with the kit to make sure you have all the parts listed for your kit.

A sampling of the items that come in most kits are pictured to the right.

First Prepare the Front Fender

This is the fender on the left or drivers side where the snorkel will be installed. As you can see it is probably best to put a protective barrier over the tire and rim or to remove it all together.

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It will be easier if you remove the inner fender flare for easier access to the inside metal part of the fender.

If you already have modified or aftermarket fender flares these may not be there and you should have access to the backside of the fender.

On the back side of the snorkel make sure that the metal nuts are installed in the plastic housing. See the silver nuts installed in the snorkel on the picture to the right.

Install the Studs in the Rear of the Snorkel

Locate the four metal studs for the rear of the snorkel. They should look like threaded bolts without a head on them. Make sure they are clean of any debris prior to putting any loctite on them.

Next get the bottle of loctite, it should be the blue kind, and apply a light coat of loctite to the stud and install it into the nuts in the back of the snorkel.

Repeat this for each of the remaining nuts on the back. Wipe up any excess loctite from the back of the snorkel and let it dry for a while.

To the right is an example of the studs installed properly on the back of the snorkel.

Check the Snorkel for Fitment

Take the snorkel and put it up to the fender to check for fitment. You want to make sure that it is correctly fitted to where the top of the snorkel aligns correctly with the a pillar frame and it correctly spaced on the fender.

Now is the time to just make sure you have a good idea of how the snorkel will fit on. Use a wax marker to put some guide markers for temporary use.

Use the template to mark the holes for the studs to go through. See the photos for a general idea of where these need to be.

You also want to mark the hole for the air hose. Please see the picture for the placement of this hole. This will be different than the template says but don't worry we will modify the snorkel accordingly. We will also drill the hole next but for now just use the marker to outline the hole.

Test fit the snorkel again and make sure everything looks aligned and even. The re-test fit and measure again, Once you cut into the metal you are committed so make sure you measure thrice and cut once.

Cut and Drill the Holes in Your Fender

Locate your hole saw which should be 84mm and attach to your drill. You can use blue painters tape to mask around where you will drill to minimize paint damage but that is up to you.

Before drilling please make sure you have protective eye wear and drill the hole with the hole saw going slowly at first to drill a hole in the center as a guide and then applying even pressure to drill through the metal fender, you may have to go through two walls.

Pay attention to the back side that you do not damage any wires or engine parts when drilling through.

Next take a correctly sized drill bits for the studs previously installed and drill the 4 marks for the studs to go through. You may want to start with a small bit and go larger to avoid a wandering bit that can scratch your paint.

Now It Is Time to Modify the Snorkel

To the right is a picture of the part of the snorkel that needs to be removed.

Use a cut-off wheel or dremel tool to remove this part of the snorkel. Pay special attention that you are cutting parallel to the snorkel and nut removing excess material as we will need these pieces for later use.

Once done your snorkel should look like the photo to the right and should be in two pieces.

Now you will need to use the hole saw to cut a new hole to move the air hose nipple. Please measure and test fit the snorkel against the fender and mark the snorkel where you need to cut the new hole.

Using the hole saw go ahead and cut the new hole in the template you marked. Make sure you cut a clean hole because we will need to reuse the piece you remove from this hole to plug the hole to the left. Once you have drilled this hole out you can set the hole saw aside as you will need it only once more.

So the final cuts should look like the photo to the right with the one piece left over for later use.

Next, Install the Cut-Out Piece in the Old Hole

So lets make sure the piece you just cut out fits into the old hole. If it does not fit trim the edges until it does. You want to make sure that it fits flat so there are no ridges or bumps. Don't worry about gaps as we will glue this together.

Get your silicon glue out (use this for water protection) and lay the snorkel on a flat surface.

Grab the circular plug and hold it from the back inside portion of the snorkel in the hole and apply glue to hold it in place. Wait till it dries enough to hold it in place with your help. MAKE SURE YOU GLUE THE CORRECT HOLE. Once the glue is dry apply a second coat. Apply liberally to make sure the entire surface is covered and water will not be able to enter the hole.

Once you are done the rear of the snorkel should look like the photo to the right. Once completely dry you may want to test fit the snorkel again just to make sure. This may also be a good time to take the flexible air hose to make sure it fits through the hole in the fender.

Snorkel Pre-Cleaner Adapter


Install the Upper Windshield Snorkel Mount

Find a suitable upper bracket mounting spot by test fitting your snorkel and marking the spot where the bracket will be installed.

You want to make sure you look at the snorkel from the front, back, and side to make sure it is correctly aligned.

Mark the holes with the marker where you need to drill for the rivets. Recheck the fitment and the drill the holes for the mounting bracket into the windshield frame.

There are four small holes you need to drill and once done put the bracket up to make sure all the holes are properly aligned.

Grab the four rivets and a pop-rivet gun. If you do not have a pop-rivet gun you may be able to rent one for free at your local auto parts store.

Insert the rivets through the bracket into the windshield frame. It should look like the photo to the right.

Then using the pop-rivet gun, rivet the bracket into place. Once the bracket is installed you can test fit the snorkel again to make sure everything lines up.

The next part of the installation process requires a lot of the extra parts that you may need to purchase. Before you proceed I would make sure you read the rest of the instructions to make sure that you have all the parts you need to continue.

If you don't, we will wait for you till you get all the parts.


Air Box for a Jeep Cherokee XJ

Air Box for a Jeep Cherokee XJ

Now Modify the Air Cleaner Box

Now remove the entire air cleaner box from the vehicle and take off the lid so you have complete access to it. We will be modifying this quite a bit so it does need to be removed.

We have to relocate the hose mount so you will first need to cut a rectangular hole as shown here you can use the air box adapter as a template.

Once that hole is cut you need to make a metal or plastic bracket with a bend in it as shown to cover the hole. The best way to make this is to get a piece of sheet metal from the hardware store and bend it in a vise.

Then drill four small holes and prepare to attach it with small screws.

Before you attach the cover make sure you get rid of the excess plastic and burrs around the edges.

Then grab some silicon glue and apply it around the edges of the hole and the back of the bracket. Then attach the bracket with the four small screws.

Once the bracket is installed and the glue has had some time to set apply some more around the edges of the bracket to make sure there are no leaks.

This step is very important whenever using silicone glue to cover areas. You want to make sure everything is watertight so there is no change water can enter the engine.

Now flip the box over and apply the silicone glue liberally around the back of the hole where the bracket was attached and let it dry.

On the opposite of the air box we need to use the hole saw and drill out a hole as shown in the photo to the right.