Set up your ATV to breathe in the deep stuff
Just like you, your ATV can’t breathe underwater (or mud). But there is still a way that you can play in the deep stuff. Snorkels allow air to enter and exit the engine, even when it is fully submerged. Many handy guys can build their own snorkel kits with PVC pipe, hoses and fitting to save on money. If you’re not so handy, or you just want something that is specifically made for your machine, there are a few companies like High Lifter that make model specific kits. The model specific kits are the easiest and probably the most effective way to submarine your machine.
Each wheeler will have its own specific needs for snorkeling. That’s where a kit comes in handy. They have all of the necessary parts that you need in the kit and have detailed instructions that should eliminate much of the guesswork. If you do choose to go at it on your own, forums and a service manual for your machine will really help to find all of the places that need to be vented or sealed.
The main components that need a snorkel on all wheelers are the air box, exhaust and the clutch belt housing. Separate snorkels are attached to each component and are vented up so virtually the whole machine can be submerged under mud and water. The air box also needs to be sealed tightly to keep the water out. You can use marine silicone to get a great seal, but marine grease can also be used to make removing the snorkel kit much easier if you don’t plan on leaving it installed.
Depending on your model, you may have to vent and snorkel a few other engine components. Your crankcase hose may need to be vented to a higher location. You may also need to have the brakes, power steering pump, fuel pump and fan motor vented to a higher location. The differentials can be vented with bellows. The bellows allow the differential to breath without the need to run vent lines to a higher location. This also reduces the chances of it getting plugged with mud.
There are other areas that you may want to consider protecting as well. If your ATV has a recoil starter, you can make a cover to prevent mud and debris from building up inside. This isn’t necessary, but it makes cleaning much easier and will help to keep the recoil from corroding and locking up. Another good idea is to coat all of the electrical connections with dielectric grease. The grease will not only help to prevent corrosion, but it also helps to prevent the water from short-circuiting the connection.
A snorkel doesn’t make your wheeler into a fish, though. The engine may be able to breathe, but it is still not optimal to run it under water or mud for long periods of time. Having a snorkel on your machine allows you to take brief runs under water, but not all day, every day without servicing it. In fact, some snorkel companies go so far as saying that a snorkel does not allow your ATV to operate under water. Running your wheeler under the manufacturer’s water line will still void the warranty even with a snorkel kit installed.
After each day of mud bogging, you should inspect your wheeler to ensure that nothing failed while the engine was submerged. A thorough cleaning is a good place to start. Removing all of the mud and debris will help prevent corrosion, plus a clean engine will allow you to make a closer inspection. You will need to make sure that all of the seals are still in working order and did not leak. You should also check all of the connection points on the snorkel kit to ensure that they still create a tight seal. All electrical components should be looked over and re-greased with dielectric grease before you hit the mud hole again.
When you’re serious about mudding, a snorkel kit can really give you an advantage over the rest of the wheelers. You’ll be able to keep the engine running through the deep stuff, where the others have to shut off. A snorkel kit won’t make your machine invincible, but it will surely give you the edge that you need to get through the mud.