Ground Clearance, Angles and Off-Roading
A vehicle’s ground clearance and traction are two major factors when it comes to off-roading. They can work separately, but are better together. Traction is pretty straight forward, but when it comes to ground clearance, there are a few different kinds. Plus, a lot of it has to do with angles. Ready for a geometry lesson?
Okay, so let’s start easy. Ever hear of ground clearance, running ground clearance, or ride height? Googling this is near-impossible, so we’ll save you the trouble. All three of those terms measure the same thing — the amount of distance between the underbody of a vehicle and the ground.
Now it’s time for five minutes of some real life geometry.
We have three angles when it comes to off-roading, but approach and departure angles are the ones causing a riot. Ever been inside of a vehicle going off-road and notice how bumpy it is? Better yet, have you been on the inside of an off-road vehicle and heard a few choice expletives? The driver most likely just interfered with one of these angles.
Approach and Departure Angles
The approach angle is the maximum angle from the ground that a vehicle can climb before interfering with the lowest part of the front of the vehicle. Basically how high an object can be from the ground before the bumper of your vehicle hits it. The departure angle is the opposite — the maximum angle the car can descend without hitting the rear-end of the vehicle and feeling like a fish on a hook.
Break-over angle, when defined, sounds a lot like ground clearance. However, the differing factor here is that it’s an angle we’re talking about, not distance from top to bottom. The break-over angle is the maximum possible angle a vehicle can drive over without the bottom of the vehicle touching anything else. This is best measured from the ground in the middle of the vehicle to the wheel directly beneath the wheel arches.
Geometry lesson over. See, that wasn’t so hard. We hope this helps if you’re looking at or own a vehicle for off-road adventure, like one of our many jeeps!