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The Measurements That Make The Highest Performing Off-Roading Rig

Say you’re in the market for a new 4x4 vehicle. But you don’t want just any 4x4, you want a rig that can traverse the harshest terrain out there without completely breaking down. With car manufacturers constantly releasing new models and touting their off-roading ability, how can you determine which claims are true and which ones aren’t?

Do you go for the one with bigger tires or do you opt for the one that sits high off the ground? Alternatively, do you buy a stock 4x4 and cram all the mods and upgrades you can into the vehicle? Would that increase its off-roading performance?

Luckily, there are measurements and criteria you can use to gauge a vehicle’s off-road capability. We go through some of those below:

  1. Ground clearance

We at Dixie 4 Wheel Drive tend to talk a lot about ground clearance and the importance of getting the right suspension lift kit for your Jeep or truck. There’s a reason for that. Having adequate space between your vehicle and the ground ensures that you can easily traverse rugged terrain without snagging your undercarriage on obstacles like boulders, rocks or stumps. It saves you from potentially damaging vital components like the oil pan, gas tank, differentials and other vulnerable parts of your vehicle.

  1. Approach, departure and breakover angles

Along with ground clearance, you need to check your ride’s angles. The approach angle simply represents the steepest hill a vehicle can climb without slamming its front bumper against the slope. The departure angle is the opposite, representing the steepest grade a rig can descend without hitting the rear bumper against a slope. Both of these angles depend on ground clearance and front or rear overhangs i.e. short overhangs coupled with sufficient ground clearance enable the vehicle to easily ascend or descend steep inclines.

The breakover angle on the other hand, indicates the steepest crest a vehicle can climb without high centering and maybe tipping over. It depends on good ground clearance and the right wheelbase i.e. a short wheelbase coupled with adequate ground clearance means that the 4x4 will easily travel over sharp inclines.

  1. Wheel articulation

This simply refers to the distance travelled by the wheel. Knowing how far any of your wheels travels is important because when off-roading, you always need to keep a tire on the road for maximum stability and traction.

When rock crawling, most seasoned off-roaders prefer having a solid axle over independent suspension because it results in more wheel articulation and better traction. However, if you’re desert racing or dune shredding, it might be better to go with independent suspension because it gives better handling and a smoother ride especially with aired-down tires.

  1. The right tire size

Most of the clients who come to our auto shop request beefier tires as part of their overall custom build. We heartily approve because this is one modification that you’re going to need if you’re going to go off pavement. Stock tires just won’t cut it.

You want to have all terrain tires or mud terrain ones, depending on where you’ll be driving. You also want to look out for tires that have tough sidewalls, deep treads and the right rubber component to give your ride the most traction possible on the trail. Larger tires -33” -35”- are perfect for getting the job done since they give you that vital bit of extra ground clearance to get you over obstacles along the trail. But don’t forget to air-down for maximum traction.

  1. Differential lockers

While differential lockers aren’t measurements, their presence or absence determines a vehicle’s off-road performance. You’ve probably seen some 4x4s get stuck out on the trail with their wheels spinning uselessly in the air, unable to get enough traction to get unstuck.

A good set of differential lockers simply sends more power to the wheel with more traction. They work by physically locking together the two wheels on an axle so that they spin at the same speed and get the same amount of torque to keep them moving forward. The difference between differential and open lockers is that the latter send more power to weak wheels which might not help much when off-roading.

  1. Proper gearing

Another component that can help you determine a vehicle’s off-roading capability is whether it has the right gearing. Proper gearing coupled with low end torque combine to give a vehicle more power to traverse terrain, especially the kind of terrain that has sharp inclines and descents.

When it comes to gears, having a low range transfer case will multiply torque making it easy for your vehicle to go over obstacles, crawl rocks or make ascents, sometimes without even touching the gas pedal. Low gearing also comes in handy when you have differentials as well as larger tires on your 4x4 vehicle.

  1. Robustness

Finally, when checking a vehicle to see if it’s off-road worthy, focus on its robustness. A robust off-roader can take the high-stress that comes with driving over all kinds of tough terrain. To confirm a vehicle’s robustness, check that it has strong, heavy-duty axles, tire rods, shocks, brakes, air intake and outtake systems, etc.

Expert Modification for your 4X4

If you’re thinking of improving your rig’s off-roading prowess, pay us a visit. We have worked on several types of 4x4s and we’ll work with you to find the right parts to give your vehicle that extra boost it needs to stand out on the trails. Whether you’re looking for custom jeep modifications, truck upgrades, improved interior or enhanced body armor, Dixie 4 Wheel Drive has got you covered. We have the right tools, parts and expertise to transform your 4 wheeler into an off-roading beast.

You can visit any of our auto shops located in Moab or St. George and let our auto mechanics work on your truck or jeep to boost its off-roading capability while improving your trail riding experience. Come talk to us today!

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