You have a nice four-wheel drive, a quality 12v tire air compressor and you have read our tips for off-road driving, you are almost ready to head out on your very first trip. You see, here is the thing; you are going to want to be well-versed in the terminology used in off-road driving. So when somebody comes by and asks you about the approach angle, you don’t just stare back at them with a dumb look on your face.
Approach Angle – This is the steepest angle a vehicle can climb or descend before any part of the body, bumpers or any equipment mounted on the vehicle makes contact with the ground. Lift kits can be installed to improve your vehicle’s approach angle.
Articulation – This is your suspensions capacity to droop on one axle over terrain that is uneven. Your axle should work at extreme levels to navigate uneven ground while keeping the body of your vehicle relatively level. If not, it feels as though you are driving a roller coaster.
Breakover Angle – This is the degree of slope defining the largest hill your vehicle can travel over without scraping the midsection. That is, this is what you can clear without any danger of getting high-centered.
Bull Bar – The bull bar is a structure mounted to the front of your vehicle that protects your bumper and the underside of the front of your vehicle from impacts. In essence, it is a bumper for your bumper or an extension of your front bumper. Keep in mind that when installing a bull bar, it will change your approach angle.
Dead-Man – This is a fixed anchor point, like a tree, that is sturdy enough to remain in place while force is applied to it.
Ground Clearance – Ground clearance is the space between the lowest part of your vehicle and the ground. You can improve your ground clearance with the installation of a lift kit.
High-Centered – This happens when you attempt to travel over a hill or ridge higher than your vehicle’s breakover angle. Basically, your vehicle gets stuck halfway over as the wheels get too far off the ground to break away.
Push Bars – Push bars are mounted to your vehicle’s grill and are designed to line up with the bumper of other vehicles to push them out of harm’s way without causing any damage to either vehicle.
Skid Plate – A skid plate is a flat metal plate that is installed on the frame of your vehicle and offers protection for your oil pan, steering linkage and other components under your vehicle.
Wheelbase – Wheelbase is the distance from the center of your vehicle’s front wheel to the center of the rear wheel on the same side. A longer wheelbase will offer you a smoother ride, but a shorter wheelbase is advantageous as it makes getting high-centered less likely.
Winch Pull Rating – Winch pull rating is the formula for determining how much weight a winch can pull on its own without the help of a snatch block or other devices.