So you’ve got your huge truck, kitted out with oversized tires and truck nuts hanging off the hitch. You think it’s going to be smooth sailing when it comes to off-roading? Not so fast!
Let’s have a look at what really makes your vehicle able to handle what it will face when the going gets tough.
If you are going to be traversing harsh terrain you need to make sure you’ve got space between it and the underside of your vehicle. Without proper ground clearance you are probably going to cause some damage traversing boulders, rocks, and stumps.
Not only that, you will also probably find yourself high centring more often than not as your vehicle gets caught on obstacles.
Even with the proper ground clearance, off-roading can still damage your vehicle quite seriously, especially if you are rock crawling.
That’s where your skid plates come in. Rock sliders protect your rocker panels, a gas tank skid plate keeps you from needing to start up the fire extinguisher, and a transfer case skid plate will ensure you don’t have to walk home.
It is always a good idea to keep your differentials, oil pan, and other exposed components underneath your vehicle protected.
Think of skid plates as a sort of online casino No Deposit Bonus. It allows you to do what you want to do with far less risk!
Get Your Angles Sorted
A vehicle’s Angle of Approach represents the sharpest incline it can climb without slamming or even brushing its front bumper against the slant.
The Breakover Angle indicates the steepest crest it can traverse without having to high centre, and the Departure Angle is the steepest grade that your vehicle can descend without your rear bumper brushing or slamming against the hill behind you. The Approach and Departure Angles are one of the functions of ground clearance, as well as front and rear overhangs, in the order mentioned.
If you have short overhangs and enough ground clearance you will be able to enjoy good Approach and Departure angles, and you’ll easily ascend and descend even very steep slopes. The Breakover Angle is one of the functions of wheelbase and ground clearance.
A short wheelbase combined with good ground clearance will ensure your vehicle can handle itself over even the sharpest of crests.
Wheel articulation is crucial for going off-road. Keeping your tires on the surface means not just maximising traction, but also being able to maintain the stability of your vehicle. Many off-roaders prefer solid axles to independent suspension, as it provides more wheel articulation, most noticeable when you’ve disconnected the sway bar.
But when it comes to desert racing, independent suspension delivers a more compliant, smoother ride because there’s less unsprung mass.
There you have it! The first steps you can take to ensure you off-road vehicle is a force to be reckoned with when you hit the trails, and you can relax and enjoy the ride without worrying about expensive damage to your machine.