Besides factors like aerodynamics and acceleration, a car’s on-road performance is affected by its ground clearance which depends on its type. There are many different types of vehicles, some are meant for off-roading, while others are either more sporty or city-driving focused. Consequently, the correct level of ground clearance ensures handling and stability when driving in different terrains.
Here we’ll delve deeper into vehicle ground clearance. We will also find out how it is measured and its impacts on a car’s drivability.
What is Vehicle Ground Clearance?
Ground clearance refers to the vertical distance between the lowest point of a vehicle’s undercarriage (usually the lowest part of the chassis) and the ground. In layman’s terms, it is the height from the ground to the car’s bottom.
The lowest point of a car’s undercarriage may also vary depending on its design. It can either be the axle, the differential, the rocker panel, the exhaust or the suspension arms.
How to Measure Vehicle Ground Clearance
The ground clearance level of a car is usually measured in inches or millimetres. That said, in the GCC countries, the use of millimetres is more common. The process of measuring a vehicle’s ground clearance is pretty simple and doesn’t require any special tools. Let’s quickly go through the process.
- First, identify the lowest points on the vehicle’s undercarriage, as discussed above.
- Second, park the vehicle on a level surface to ensure an accurate measurement.
- Make sure the tyres are correctly inflated and that the load on each wheel assembly is evenly distributed.
- Use a tape measure or a similar measuring tool for the measurement of ground clearance.
- Measure the height of the vehicle’s undercarriage from multiple points to confirm consistency.
What Are the Standards of Ground Clearance for Vehicles?
There is no particular standard ground clearance for vehicles as it varies greatly depending on the type and purpose of the vehicle. Here are the average ranges of ground clearance for different body types of vehicles.
Sedans and Hatchbacks
The ground clearance for sedans and hatchbacks usually ranges from 120 mm to 180 mm. This enhances their manoeuvrability on paved roads, making them a good choice for city driving.
SUVs have higher ground clearance to handle rough terrain and provide better off-road capabilities. The average ground clearance for SUVs falls in the range of 200 mm to 250 mm.
Crossovers are a blend of SUVs and traditional sedans and their ground clearance typically ranges from 160 mm to around 200 mm. To find out more about the difference between a crossover and an SUV, read here.
Utility and Larger Trucks
Pickup trucks and larger trucks are vehicles with high ground clearance. They are designed for utility purposes and tend to have a higher height. On average, their ground clearance ranges from 200 mm to 300 mm or more. Ground clearance is a crucial factor to consider when buying a pickup truck in Dubai or any other Emirate.
Vehicles designed that are specially built for off-road adventures often have the highest ground clearance. It can range from 250 mm to over 400 mm, to tackle challenging terrains. There isn’t any ground clearance comparison between different types of vehicles. Meanwhile, here are some off-road vehicle maintenance tips to improve your ride’s performance.
Factors Impacting a Vehicle’s Ground Clearance
Several factors can impact a vehicle’s ground clearance over time. As a vehicle is driven on different terrains, components of the suspension and undercarriage may experience wear and tear.
Continuous contact with rough roads, speed bumps, potholes and other obstacles causes different parts of car suspension to degrade. In the long run, this wear and tear can lead to a slight reduction in ground clearance.
Importance of Ground Clearance in Cars
Here are a couple of key reasons why a higher ground clearance is of crucial importance.
Higher ground clearance is essential for off-road driving, as it allows the vehicle to clear obstacles such as rocks, bumps and mud. Vehicles with low ground clearance are more likely to bottom out on these obstacles, making it impossible to drive. Meanwhile, if you want to learn more about off-roading, read our detailed guide on this adventure-filled motorsport.
A vehicle with higher ground clearance will sit higher off the ground, which gives the driver a better vantage point. For instance, if you are driving off-road, a vehicle with higher ground clearance will give you a better view of the terrain ahead. This can help you to avoid obstacles and ensure that you are driving safely.
Protection Against Flood Water
In general, a vehicle with greater ground clearance has a higher chance of surviving a flood compared to a car with lower ground clearance. The increased clearance allows the vehicle more space to navigate through the water, preventing it from reaching the engine or the car cabin.
However, if the water is deep enough, moisture damage to a vehicle becomes unavoidable. Moreover, estimating the depth of water on the road can be difficult sometimes. In such a situation, it is better not to take any risk and avoid driving through flooded areas altogether. If there is no other option, try to drive slowly or pull over to the side until help arrives. In the worst-case scenario, follow these steps to fix a flooded vehicle.
Alterations to Vehicle Ground Clearance
Alterations to ground clearance in cars refer to modifications made to a vehicle’s suspension system or other components to change its height from the ground. There are two common types of alterations that can be made to vehicle ground clearance:
Either for suspension or body, lift kits are used to increase the ground clearance of a vehicle. People install them, particularly to enhance the function of ground clearance in vehicles. Such modifications are particularly done to utility trucks, SUVs and off-road vehicles. They involve adding spacers or blocks between the vehicle’s body and the suspension components, evenly raising the entire vehicle.
Lift kits are popular among off-road enthusiasts who want to improve their vehicle’s capability to handle rough terrains and obstacles. Follow these maintenance tips for the car suspension system and ensure it is functioning properly. It is a crucial step before installing lift kits for optimal and safe results.
Lowering kits, on the other hand, are used to reduce the ground clearance of a vehicle, mostly in sports cars or performance-oriented vehicles. Lowering springs or coil overs are installed to lower the vehicle’s ride height, resulting in a lower centre of gravity.
This modification is often sought after by those who want improved handling and to give their cars a more sporty appearance. However, it is often difficult to drive a lowered car, especially on roads with uneven pavement or potholes. The potential undercarriage damage is why you should avoid potholes while driving a lowered car.
This was all the important information about vehicle ground clearance. The aforementioned factors hint at the importance of ground clearance in terms of a car’s drivability. Therefore, it should be on your checklist whether you are buying a new or a used car for sale in the UAE.
Keep reading dubizzle’s car blog for more informative guides on auto specs and spare parts.