How Much Ground Clearance You Need for Safe Off-Roading

Posted by Paige Pesko on

All pickup truck owners should be aware of their vehicle’s ground clearance. While not the most appealing part of the truck, it’s an essential component to protect your exterior from serious damage. The minimal ride height, approach angle, departure angle, and break-over angle all underline the seriousness of this regarding off-road travel. Therefore, any truck owner must know how much ground clearance you need for safe off-roading to avoid seriously ruining their vehicle.

What Is Ground Clearance?

Ground clearance, also known as ride height, is the space between the base of the tire and the lowest point on the vehicle, such as the axle. In other words, it is the distance between the driving surface and the lowest part of the vehicle’s body. It is a crucial factor for cars, pickup trucks, and other utility vehicles. While cars offer low ground clearance for improved aerodynamics, trucks, SUVs, ATVs, and similar off-road vehicles have higher clearance to handle more dangerous conditions. High ride height—along with a specifically designed suspension—allows these vehicles to ride over rocks, potholes, or other obstacles without damaging the axle or lower body. Automobile enthusiasts can lower or raise their ground clearance with an aftermarket body lift or suspension lift.

Even further, the ground clearance relates to three other angles affecting the off-road vehicle’s handling and practicality: approach angle, departure angle, and break-over angle. The approach angle is the steepest angle between the front bumper and the obstacle. The absence of a skid plate or ignoring the approach angle can cause serious damage. Similarly, the departure angle is the distance between the rear end of your truck and the obstacle. The break-even angle measures the distance between the front and rear wheels and the lowest part of the chassis.

Ground Clearance and the Elements

Given that, you must know the relationship between ground clearance and the elements. Off-road terrain includes rock, sand, snow, or mud. Each element has its own ride height requirements for safe handling and protection. Gravel, mud, and sand tracks necessitate a range between 6.6 inches and 8.7 inches, but overlanding and rock crawling increase this range to 9.4 inches and 10.8 inches, respectively. Eight to ten inches is ideal for heavy snow, but six to eight inches is appropriate for light to medium snow.

What Difference Does It Make in the End?

Nevertheless, how much ground clearance you need for off-roading is just one factor in its performance. There are many components to a reliant off-road vehicle, like all-terrain tires, powerful engine, adjustable suspension, and heavy-duty chassis. Its center of gravity must remain even to prevent roll-overs or other mishaps. Yet no one should ignore the ground clearance. Ride height is still an important part of off-roading. Without considering it, you can seriously damage your vehicle. Furthermore, your wallet and driving reputation will thank you.

Impressively, the 2020 Ford Raptor offers an outstanding 11.5 inches of ground clearance with a 30.2-degree approach angle, 23-degree departure angle, and 22.9-degree (for SuperCab) and 21.8-degree ramp break-over angles (for SuperCrew). With this information, you’ll ride over any off-road terrain in comfort and style without damaging your exterior. Just remember to install a Ford Raptor light bar to improve your sight for any excursion.


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