Crossing water in your Jeep can be some of the best fun you can have off-roading. Whether you seek out the streams or just come across them from time to time, it’s a good idea to know what you’re doing before your tires hit the water.
The easiest mistakes that newbies make when trying to cross water is not preparing their Jeeps. You can’t just drive on in and expect to make it to the other side unless you’re only driving through a shallow stream.
Prepare your Jeep for water fording with Jeep JK off-road products that help keep your critical components dry and give you greater ability to drive through water.
- Engine Snorkels - The most critical part of your engine that need protecting when driving through water is your air intake system. Water getting into your engine through the air intake can be disastrous. Protect the air intake with a snorkel system that covers the intake and extends it as high up as you need it to be, even as far up as the roofline. A good snorkel kit will also include a pre-filter attachment that prevents sand and dirt from entering the air intake.
- Front and Rear Breather Tubes - Your Jeep has a series of breather tubes in the drivetrain at the front and rear axle, the transfer case, and for the transmission if you have an automatic. These tubes are designed to release fluid pressure within the drive system should it get too high. If submerged, the tubes may allow water and dirt into the system and contaminate the fluid that lubricates all the drivetrain gears. You can prevent this from happening by adding breather tube extensions that will raise the end of the tubes up to your airbox or even further if you want to ford really deep water.
Before you can drive into the water with your Jeep, you need to know how deep you can go and how to determine water depth. Technically speaking, your depth mark is the point where your extended breather tubes end. Jeep states that the JK Wrangler can drive through 30 inches of water at slower speeds.
To be safer, you may want to start by limiting to 20 inches until it's possible to see how far the tires sink into the under surface as that will lower your Jeep in the water. Once you go above the air box and begin to approach the level of the windshield wipers, you risk damaging the engine compartment electrical sensors and relays.
How Do You Do It?
Once your Jeep is prepared and you have an idea of how deep you can actually go, begin by checking the water depth on foot. Walk through the water to see what the floor is like and whether there are any obstacles you need to know about. When you’ve checked everything and know you can cross it, hop in and start going.
Enter the water at a slow, steady pace and keep going. The gradual forward movement will push the water in front of your Jeep aside, actually lowering the depth immediately in front of you. Avoid stopping or driving too fast that could create waves splashing back higher on your front end instead. Keep going until you reach the other side.
Once you are on dry ground, keep your engine running so everything can drain and check to be sure your brakes are still working as they should. Check your interior to make sure no water came in. After confirming that everything is working correctly and you haven’t taken on any water, continue on your way.
If you’ve been excited about water fording with your Jeep, prepare ahead of time with the right Jeep JK off road products. You’ll get through streams without any trouble as long as you prepare. If you can keep a few critical components dry and go about it the right way, you’ll have a blast crossing water on the trail!