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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

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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.

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.