The ABCs of Off-roading

October 18th, 2018 by

If you’ve ever thought of going off-roading in your Jeep®, then you’ve probably also wondered about the improvements that could be made to your vehicle to get it ready for the trail. We here at Hollywood Chrysler Jeep know that it can get very confusing to start from scratch, especially if you’re a beginner, so we as The Jeep Experts have compiled the ABCs of off-roading for you.


Ackerman Angle – the turning angle of the outside wheel is larger than the turning angle of the inside wheel, thus, the difference between both angles is referred to as the Ackerman angle.

Add-a-Leaf – an extra leaf spring that is inserted into the existing leaf spring pack to achieve a higher ride height than the manufacturer’s default ride height.

Amp Draw – the amount of ampere-hours used by any particular piece of electrical equipment, a measure of energy.

Approach Angle – refers to the highest angle a vehicle can descend or climb before any important equipment – bumpers, body, chassis, etc – makes contact with the obstacle or floor. Lift kits significantly improve approach angles as they substantially increase ride height.

Articulation – the capacity of one axle to combine compression and droop over uneven terrain, think of the tires being uneven at extreme angles while the actual vehicle stays leveled.


Bead-Lock – metal rings that clamp a tire to a rim and provide reinforcement to keep the wheel from popping off during extreme off-road conditions.

Breakover Angle – the angle below the vehicle that defines how big or steep a hill a vehicle can travel over without scraping any components.

Bridle – the point where two tow straps meet.

Bull Bar – a metal component that is bolted to the front structure of a vehicle formulated to protect the center and underside of the bumper from impacts. Bull bars tend to include skid plates to protect the underside of a vehicle.

Bumper Bar – a metal reinforcement that goes over the bumper to absorb minor speed impacts. Unlike bull bars, bumper bars offer minimal protection while off-roading because they’re attached to the framework below the vehicle rather than to the bumper itself.


Center of Gravity – the imagined point on a vehicle where all planes balance, used to determine how easily a vehicle will roll over.


Dead-man – a fixed anchor point that’s chosen when using a winch. The fixed point can be a hefty rock, a sturdy tree, or anything that will remain in place despite the force that’s applied.

Departure Angle – just like the approach angle, the departure angle refers to the steepest angle a vehicle can climb or descend before any part of its rear – be it the bumper, body, or chassis – makes contact with the ground.

D-ring – the D-shaped hook found on 4×4 vehicles used to attach to tow straps while winching or pulling a vehicle out of a bad situation.

D-ring attachment – a plate that’s welded or bolted in place that serves as the placeholder for D-rings or other hooks. The attachment can be found on grille guards, bull bars, and bumpers.

Drum storage capacity – refers to the length of the wire rope or cable that can be stored or wound up around a winch drum without exceeding the maximum number of layers, and is dependent on the thickness and diameter of the cable or wire rope.

Duty cycle – an intermittent operating cycle of a machine, in this case a winch, to prevent it from overheating.

Duty cycle thermal rating – applies to the distance that a specific load can be hoisted and lowered with a winch before the temperature of the lubricating oil rises from 100 degrees to the oil’s maximum temperature.


Fairlead – a steel guide that helps guide the winch cable or wire rope allowing the winch to rotate smoothly.


Grille guard – a protective component that’s bolted to the front structure of a vehicle intended to protect the bumper and grille from frontal impacts and can extend all the way to the headlights.

Ground clearance – refers to the space between the floor and the lowest-lying part of a vehicle’s underside. A suspension lift kit improves ground clearance.


High-centered – when the mid-section of a vehicle becomes stuck over an obstacle with its wheels unable to touch the ground to break away.


Lift-block – a “spacer” block that’s placed between the rear axle and springs as an inexpensive way to improve a ride’s height to make it suitable for off-roading.

Lift kit – can be comprised of several components – taller springs, spacer blocks, shocks or control arms – to raise the ride height of a vehicle.

Limited-slip differential – when the right and left axle shafts are connected and work simultaneously to deliver equal engine power to both sides of the vehicle while preventing the wheels from spinning.

Line – refers to the path selected by a driver that will provide the best route to climb over an obstacle. Proper line selection is essential to successful off-roading.

Locked in – when the front axle hubs are manually adjusted and locked into a 4-wheel-drive position.

Locker – a component in the rear or front differential that, regardless of traction, makes sure both wheels receive the same engine power.


Off-camber – when a vehicle is leaning sideways enough while off-roading, thus increasing the chances of a rollover situation.

Off-road bumper – a replacement bumper usually made from heavy gauge steel with angled corners and edges to improve ground clearance, approach angles, and departure angles without scraping the ground.


Push-bar – a bar that functions as an add-on to the grille guard and is designed to align with the bumper of another vehicle, its sole purpose is to help push another vehicle without damaging your own.


Rocker bars – guards that attach to the frame along the sides of the vehicle that are intended to protect rocker panel pieces that may get damaged during off-roading.


Sand ladders – steel ramps with perforations designed to improve the tire grip and traction of a vehicle that has become stuck on snow, sand, or muck.

Skid plate – a flat metal sheet plate that attaches to the frame of a vehicle, the grille guard, bull bar, or a bumper intended to protect the oil pan, differential, steering linkages or any other components otherwise exposed on the underside.

Snatch-block – a device that works as a pulley along with a winch to vary the angle of pulling when needed and has the ability to double the winch cable’s pulling power.

Spool out – the action of unwinding the winch cable or rope after releasing the winch’s drum brake.

Sport bar – a metal reinforcement that’s mounted to the steel framework under the bumper to offer light protection to the bumper while off-roading.

Spring rate – measurement used to determine how much force is needed to compress a coil spring about one inch, usually expressed as a pound-per-square-inch measurement.

Stinger bar – a bar that is angled upward as an extension to a grille guard, meant to prevent the vehicle from tumbling on its front wheels if a nosedive is imminent.

Stair-steps – a series of ledges that must be climbed in succession when off-roading, much like stairs.


Tow bar – a single bar that on one end connects to a tow hitch and then splits into two other bars that form a “V” and attach to the frame or D-ring hooks of the vehicle being towed. Intended for one vehicle to tow another one behind it with all four wheels on the pavement.

Tow hooks – hooks that are welded or bolted to the rear or front of a vehicle’s frame that function as an attachment and pulling point for straps and winch cables.

Track – value that measures the distance between two wheels on the same axle, as in from left- and right-side wheels.

Trailer winch – small winches that usually have manual cranks or can be electrically-powered that are applied to lighter vehicles like ATVs and lightweight dune buggies.

Tubular bar – round metal bars that are customarily hollow inside and are the primary components of most grille guards, stinger bars, bull bars, and sometimes off-road bumpers as well.


Under-axle clearance – the space between the lowest-lying part of an automobile’s axle and the ground.


Wheel adapter – a metal plate accessory that works as an adapter for a wheel with a different bolt pattern, usually required when mounting larger wheels with bigger bolt patterns than the vehicle was initially intended to handle.\

Wheelbase – the distance between the center of a vehicle’s front wheel to the center of the rear wheel on the same side.

Winch gear ratio – the gear ratio indicates how many times a manual winch crank must be turned to complete one full revolution of the winch’s drum spool.

Winch mount – a metal accessory that is customarily bolted to the bumper or the frame to properly support a winch.

Winch pull rating – a formula that takes into account the overall weight of a vehicle, including the passengers and any other cargo, and determines how much weight a winch can safely pull without the help of a snatch block or any other device.

Winch rated line speed – how much cable or wire rope a winch can unspool in one minute, usually measured in feet or meters.

Winch remote clutch kit – helps the cable or wire rope spool back up without becoming tangled.

As we mentioned earlier it might feel a little overwhelming the first time you hit the trails, but that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to be unprepared – especially with this trusty guide. If you’ve got any questions please feel free to reach out to us on Hollywood Chrysler Jeep social media. As The Jeep Experts we will be more than glad to guide you in the right direction.

Additionally, if you’re serious about your off-roading adventures then you’ll be glad to learn that we here at Hollywood Chrysler Jeep specialize in lifted Jeep vehicles. Give us a call at (954) 998-0011 or schedule your service appointment online now!

Photo Source/Copyright: Jeep