A Question About Vehicle Ground Clearance

23 posts in this topic

Posted (edited) · Report post

I have a question about ground clearance.  I just bought a crossover SUV.  It doesn't have much ground clearance but will (just barely) make it over an obstruction I need to drive over.  Does a vehicle's stated ground clearance take into account the amount the suspension can bounce?  That is, I can barely clear the obstruction but it will work if the springiness of the suspension doesn't let the car go below its stated ground clearance.  If the springs let it go lower the vehicle will bottom out. 

Edited by Thot

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

Hmmm.  The ground clearance number is a fancy way of saying how far the bottom of the chassis is off the ground and that is good for the average driver on a road.  It does not account for big pot holes, etc.  To an off-roader, it generally means the lowest part of the vehicle including rocker arms, shocks, and differentials.  So, a good rule of thumb is to go very slow and if need be, have a spotter outside the vehicle when in doubt.

Edited by Baytown Bert

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Be advised the higher the ground clearance the lower your gas mileage. You best bet is an adjustable ground clearance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited) · Report post

The ground clearance number is a fancy way of saying how far the bottom of the chassis is off the ground and that is good for the average driver on a road.

I understand ground clearance is the distance of the bottom of the chassis from the ground.  Another way of asking, is stated ground clearance only with the car standing still or with it bumping on the road where the vehicle goes up and down on the springs?  And if so, is it a measure of the closest the springs will let the chassis get to the ground.  Yet another way:  Does a vehicles stated ground clearance take into account how low the suspension will let it go?

Edited by Thot

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Actually since I drive on the beach a lot to fish I was wondering if the rear struts are taken into account when measuring ground clearance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

If it helps to be more specific, I have to drive over a curb measuring 6" and my car has a stated ground clearance of 6.25" 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Ground clearance is always stated while the vehicle is stationary. While driving (with people in there) the springs will compress a little so actual clearance will be a little less, but shouldn't affect it too much.

Now as for your 6"-6.25" clearance, that's a pretty tight margin! My advice on that one is to take it SLOW and have a spotter to make sure. Also, before you tackle the 'obstacle' you might wanna take a look UNDER your vehicle to see which part of it is the lowest (most likely the diff or a suspension part).

Baytown Bert likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Thanks.  That sets my teeth on edge.   I don't know exactly what a spotter can do. By the time I'm over the curb there's little turning back.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

To whom it may concern:

 

I was able to go over the curb easily and my spotter said I had at least 2" of clearance.  I'm glad, but it leaves me more curious what ground clearance means exactly. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Actual ground clearance also depends upon your tires, so if you are using larger tires than they used when they determined the ground clearance, you get more clearance.  Two inches is surprising however.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Generally the lowest clearance is in the frt and rear axle zone and since that clearance doesnt change unless you change tire size you can actually clear a higher obstacle that the sheer number might lead you to believe. If you have 6" clearance at the wheel area you would clear a 6" obstacle by 6" make sense?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Actual ground clearance also depends upon your tires, so if you are using larger tires than they used when they determined the ground clearance, you get more clearance.  Two inches is surprising however.

This is a new car and the tires came with the car.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

 If you have 6" clearance at the wheel area you would clear a 6" obstacle by 6" make sense?

Not really.  I didn't meet the curb head on, it went over one wheel at a time. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

 

 If you have 6" clearance at the wheel area you would clear a 6" obstacle by 6" make sense?

Not really.  I didn't meet the curb head on, it went over one wheel at a time. 

 

One of my car has a low clearance. Make sure your tire air pressure is right and even then I angle my way in. SOmetimes I use a different driveway. They are working on Bellaire Blvd in Chinatown and after a rain there was a big divot in the gravel so I drop around it to exit a different way.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

Even then you had one wheel 6" above the other which alters the true clearance. Lots of geometry in how ground clearance comes into play.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

It was a 4 inch curb.  :angel:

Nope.  Measured at exactly 6"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

I may be off base here but i would think the pumpkin on a standard automotive axle would be where ground clearance is measured. On a front wheel/allwheel drive crossover with independent suspension, the measurement might be taken at the lower control arm. If so, this measurement would stay pretty much the same at these points because they move with the tires. Going up on a curb causes the tires and the lower control arms to move up at the same time.

 

Now, the clearance between your chassis and the ground could change a bit when you hit bumps or potholes. Straddling a small mound or getting into ruts could cause high centering for sure. As far as slowly driving over a curb, none of the crossovers i've run across would have any problems doing that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

That seems like a plausible explanation. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted · Report post

For off-roaders, it the lowest point - usually the pumpkins.  Now the rocker panels can also take a beating.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now