Differences in Ground Clearances
Off-road mayhem. Crawling over rocks, driving through bumpy terrain, and going over dunes in your Jeep is great fun — until you get stuck or hear the sound of metal scraping. Then, panic sets in. Uh oh, what did you do? Well, maybe you wouldn’t have done that if you knew the ground clearance and angles of your Jeep. So take five minutes to learn a little.
Running Ground Clearance
Let’s start with the big one. Running ground clearance is also commonly referred to as ride height or ground clearance. They all mean the same thing. Running ground clearance is the total distance between the underside of the vehicle and the ground. Usually, drivers take an inch or so off this measurement to consider any low-hanging drivetrain components. No point in cutting it close. I.e. if the running ground clearance is 12”, consider it to be 11” or 10.5” to provide the slightest buffer.
See It from Every Angle
There are three types of angles to consider when going off-roading. All that bouncing around the vehicle does when going off-road is caused by the uneven terrain. Two common angles you will encounter are the approach and departure angles. Both have an effect on the tires and front or rear of the vehicle.
The approach angle is the maximum angle from the ground a vehicle can ride over before it comes into contact with the lowest part on the front of the vehicle. Too bad parking lots don’t have these angles, because it’s very easy for the front lip to eat concrete. The other angle is the departure angle, the maximum angle the car can descend without dragging. Not as difficult as the approach angle, but still not something to mess with – don’t guess it.
Lastly is the break-over angle. The break-over angle is the measurement of the angle a vehicle can safely drive over without the midsection touching anything else. This is typically measured from the middle of the underbody to the lowermost point of the wheel arches.
That’s it. Grab some measuring tape, find out these four measurements, and you’re good to go.