Off-Road Driving: Basic Terms for Beginners

Off-Road DrivingOff-road driving is a world away from on-road driving. You may own a Jeep 4×4, but that doesn’t mean you’re ready for off-roading. It takes more than just a 4×4 vehicle. It takes guts, practice, and knowledge in the field. Experience is the only true teacher, especially in the case of driving on terrain that challenges everything you know about being at the wheel of a machine that’s ready to handle such encounters.

Whether you want to do this every day or only on special weekends with your buddies, All Star Tire noted that you would have a better chance of learning if you do your research first. Here are a few of the most common terms you’ll have to master.

Approach and Departure Angles

This is the maximum angle of incline your vehicle can climb or descend before any of its parts touch the driving surface. Some off-roaders call it the attack angle. A short front overhang increases the approach angle. The departure angle is the one at which you can leave the obstacle you just climbed. As with the approach angle, a short rear overhang gives your vehicle a higher departure angle.

Ramp Angle

This is the obstacle angle before it touches your vehicle’s belly. Shorter differentials make this easier to maneuver. It’s what makes smaller 4x4s like the Suzuki Samurai so good at off-roading. To give your vehicle a better chance at this, look for wheels that are the right size.

Ground Clearance

Bigger wheels give a higher ground clearance. Raised SUVs have a higher ground clearance, as well. This is the distance between the terrain and the underside of your vehicle. If you try to drive off-road using a vehicle with a low ground clearance, you’ll end up dragging it through mud, logs and rocks, effectively damaging your vehicle and increasing your chances of getting stuck.

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These are only a handful of the terms you will encounter in off-roading. Learn as many terms as you can before you hit the terrain. The more experience you have, the better will be your grasp of such terms, and more importantly, your handle of the kind of driving that matters in off-road situations.