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Top 10 Terms Heard On The Trail

February 7, 2020


Terms Blog Cover

The world of off-roading is quite a unique one and if you’re new to this activity, some of the terminologies you hear can be a little confusing.

So we wanted to simplify things and talk about the top 10 terms heard on the trail and what they mean!

10. Ground Clearance

We’ll start with the basics. Ground Clearance refers to the distance between the lowest point on the bottom of your vehicle and the terrain or obstacle below you.

In the event you get hung up out on the trail, you’ll probably need more ground clearance.

You can achieve better ground clearance by adding bigger tires or a larger suspension lift.


 9. Approach Angle

This term refers to how close you can get to an obstacle before your tire makes contact or the distance from your front bumper to the beginning of your front tire.

This one can be tricky to understand. Basically imagine a huge rock right in front of your Jeep. If you drive straight at it, you'll smash your front bumper. This is where approach angle comes in. Coming at the rock from an angle will allow your tire to make contact with the rock rather than the front bumper.

This will allow you to crawl over the large rock and avoid damaging your bumper. The best approach angle is the point where the most amount of tire can come in contact with the rock.

The more tire hitting the rock, the more stable you become.

Off-Road Ford

8. Departure Angle

Now that you've made it on top of the rock we mentioned before, it's time to come back down.

Departure angle is basically the same concept as approach angle. Leaving the rock from an angle allows you to roll off smoothly without damaging your rear bumper.

This also comes into play when backing over objects.


7. Break Over Angle

Simply put, break over angle is how much clearance you have from tire to tire in the center of your vehicle.

This is important because you can get hung up on objects that your vehicle can't clear.

The more break over angle you have, the less you are to become high-centered. We'll get into that next.


6. High Centered

Exactly as it sounds, high centered happens when you are going over the peak of a hill or some other inclination and your vehicle gets hung up in the center of the body.

When this happens, it causes both your front and rear wheels to lift off the ground leaving you stuck with no tires planted.

Think of this like a teeter-totter on the playground where the center of the toy is the body of your vehicle and the seat on each end acts as the front and rear wheels. Not a fun time.


5. Articulation

This is the amount of travel that your wheels can go while still maintaining contact with the ground below from your rear tires.

There is a tool used to test your articulation, known as an RTI. The setup is basically a single inclined ramp. you place one wheel on the ramp and drive up. The higher your vehicle can go up the ramp without the rear wheels losing contact with the ground is the amount of articulation that your vehicle is capable of.

Articulation Jeep

4. Inclination Angles

This is a rather large term for a simple concept.

Inclination angle refers to the angle of the slope that you are climbing up, or going down.

The inclination angle is determined simply by the degree of the slope you are encountering. The higher the inclination angle, the harder the slope will be to climb or descend.


3. Center of Gravity

The center of gravity of your vehicle is determined by measuring the two planes from your tires, front to back, and side to side. You then find the middle of those two planes and measure the distance from that point to the ground. That's a lot of math.

What does this mean? The higher your center of gravity, the more likely your vehicle is to tip over.


2. Crawl Ratio

Your crawl ratio is the measurement of how slow your vehicle can crawl when in its lowest gear and at engine idle speed.

Basically what this does is multiply the amount of power that is actually going to your wheels. This allows you to maintain more control over your vehicle when goingover uneven surfaces as well as up and down inclines. 

The lower the number of gears you have, the more power your vehicle can send to the wheels, and ultimately allow you to have more vehicle control.

Doorless Jeep

1. Turned Turtle

We'll end this blog on with a rather funny-sounding term.

We hope that you never have to become a turned turtle because it definitely is not a good thing.

A turned turtle is when you completely flip your vehicle over with the wheels up to the sky, like a turtle laying on its back.

This is definitely a bad situation to be in so we hope that you personally never have to experience what it's like to be a turned turtle.


We hope this list has helped you learn a few of the terms you are likely to hear when out on the trail. Now you'll at least be able to use some of the lingo with the others out there and maybe even be able to share some knowledge with the newbies. Be safe and have fun!

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