Ground Clearance: How Much Do You Need?


If you’re a pickup truck owner interested in taking your vehicle off the road, a solid grasp of ground clearance is essential to protecting your truck and enjoying a safe ride.

What is Ground Clearance?

Ground clearance, often also called the ride height, measures the distance between the ground and the lowest piece of the vehicle, excluding tires. Low ground clearance makes a car more aerodynamic, so sports cars are built to sit low to the ground.

High ground clearances give vehicles the ability to handle a more excellent range of conditions without causing body damage, which is why SUVs, trucks, and other vehicles designed to go off-road are built with a higher ride height.

While cars are manufactured with a specific ground clearance, auto enthusiasts can raise or lower their vehicles using a variety of vehicle mods and Toyota off-road accessories.

A Bit More Detail

Beyond ground clearance, off-roaders also look closely at the following angles:

  • The Approach Angle. This is the steepest angle between an obstacle on the ground and the lowest part of the front bumper.
  • The Departure Angle. This is the steepest angle between an obstacle on the ground and the lowest part of the back bumper.
  • The Break-Even Angle. This measures the relationship angle between the lowest part of the chassis and the front and rear wheels.

Ignoring any of these angles could result in severe damage to your vehicle when navigating obstacles off the road.

Are There Guidelines for Ground Clearance?


  • Trucks going over snow, gravel, mud, or sand need a minimum ground clearance between 6.6 inches and 8.7 inches.
  • Trucks traveling through heavy snow need 8 to 10 inches.
  • Truck crawling over boulders over land need 9.4 inches to 10.8 inches.

Why Does Ground Clearance Matter?

How big of a difference does ground clearance make? Is ground clearance the only important factor?

The truth is, ground clearance is just one component of a well-designed off-roading vehicle that includes other features such as the following:

  • Powerful engine
  • Adjustable suspension
  • All-terrain tires
  • Heavy-duty chassis
  • Center of gravity that prevents rollovers
  • And many others

What are the Options for Increasing Ground Clearance?

Truck owners have a variety of options for improving their vehicle’s ground clearance, including the following:

  • Adding larger tires. You can quickly and comfortably get 1-2 inches with bigger tires.
  • Install coil spring spacers. Coil spacers are pieces of rubber that sit between the coils of the suspension and reduce expansion and contraction, which can add ½” to your ground clearance.
  • Replace your bumpers. Installing bumpers designed explicitly for off-roading can increase your ground clearance by improving the approach and departure angles. But beware: heavy steel bumpers can decrease ground clearance, so plan accordingly.

Protect your truck during your next off-road adventure by improving its ground clearance today.