What is Ground Clearance of a Vehicle ?

Ground Clearance (also known as ride height or Simply Clearance of Vehicle ) is one of the most basic but very important general dimensions of a vehicle.So now lets study  about what does it really means and what is its Importance in the vehicle.

What is Ground Clearance ?
Ground clearance is a critical factor in several important characteristics of a vehicle.It is the amount of space between the base of an automobile tire and the lowest point (typically the axle); or, more properly, to the shortest distance between a flat, level surface, and the lowest part of a vehicle other than those parts designed to contact the ground (such as tires, tracks, skis, etc.).  

Generally, most of the manufacturers specify this dimension in unladen vehicle condition i.e. without any load of cargo or passengers. That is why, when you load the vehicle with passengers and cargo; the available ride height is always lower than specified in the actual running condition.

The ground clearance is not something that you have to go and measure or calculate as the manufacturers usually give the distance in millimetres or inches in the overall list of dimensions.Higher ground clearance increases chances of "rollover" and low clearance lowers center of gravity which results in better handling of the car as well as minimises air flow under the car. As the sports and super cars are meant to be driven fast lower ground clearance is a must for more stability at higher speeds.

But on rough and bumpy roads, higher ground clearance is always better. This is because it avoids the scratching of the underbelly of the vehicle. As a general rule, it could be observed that a specific body type of a vehicle has some standard for ground clearance. Sedans and high-performance sports cars have very low ground clearance while hatchbacks are on the next step of the ladder. SUVs secure the top position of the ladder by offering highest ride height.

For armored fighting vehicles (AFV), ground clearance presents an additional factor in a vehicle's overall performance: a lower ground clearance means that the vehicle minus the chassis is lower to the ground and thus harder to spot and harder to hit. The final design of any AFV reflects a compromise between being a smaller target on one hand, and having greater battlefield mobility on the other. Very few AFVs have top speeds at which car-like handling becomes an issue, though rollovers can and do occur. By contrast, an AFV is far more likely to need high ground clearance than a road vehicle.

How It Affects While Handling Vehicle ?

It is the trickiest dimension because vehicle handling directly depends on it. The higher the clearance, the higher is the position of Centre of Gravity (CG) of the vehicle. And the higher position of CG means that the vehicle is prone to roll over. That means vehicles with higher clearance have more possibility of turning over than the vehicles with lower clearance. Thus it affects the handling. On the other hand, vehicles with lower ride height offer superb handling performance due to lower height of vehicle CG.

The most common way to increase the ride height of the vehicle is by modifying the suspension of the vehicle. Many aftermarket agencies follow this practice.

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