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Thread: Ground Clearance - what you should know

  1. #1
    Guardian Angel just4kix's Avatar
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    Default Ground Clearance - what you should know

    Whenever we buy cars we often discuss the fuel economy, style, features, colour, price and all that. But unless widely publicized, people hardly care to look at the physical specs of the car - in particular the ground clearance.

    Ground clearance is a factor mostly discussed when someone is buying low level cars, in particular, from the Honda stable. Indeed Honda cars are known for their low stance and low ground clearance. Now, anyone or any website will tell you that ground clearance is the "minimum distance between the ground/road and the lowest part of the car". And then manufacturers publish the ground clearance figures such as 160 mm or 170 mm or 180 mm.

    Attachment 7125
    Ground clearance

    When it comes to Indian roads, high ground clearance is desirable and it does not take rocket science to figure that out. But what should be the ideal ground clearance. Some people will tell you that 175 mm is the minimum that you should opt for. But that is just half the truth. Consider this:
    • The Honda Civic has a ground clearance of 170 mm
    • The Hyundai Santro also has a ground clearance of 170 mm
    • The Honda City has a ground clearance of 160 mm
    • The Maruti-Suzuki Alto also has a ground clearance of 160 mm

    So while riding the Civic vis-a-vis Santro or City vis-a-vis Alto, you should not face any ground clearance issues. Right?

    And anyone will tell you and you yourself know the answer. One cannot be more wrong. So what is missing here?

    The answer to this is the wheelbase. Wheelbase is measured as the distance between two wheels at the center of each wheel. Because Santro/Alto have a much lesser wheelbase as compared to Civic/City, the former cars are able to coast over the high speed breakers / rumblers with no issues.

    Attachment 7126
    A car moving over a rumbler

    Attachment 7127
    The low ground clearance causes the rumbler to scrape the car bottom

    Attachment 7128
    The car rear wheels going over the rumbler

    Another factor to note. Manufacturers specify the ground clearance figures with complete unladen weight, i.e., no fuel, no passengers; not even the driver. When the car is fully laden, the car sinks and ground clearance reduces significantly. In such a case, every rumbler on the road will be determined to kiss your bottom (of your car, that is).

    So, if you are shopping for a car, make a note of the above facts. For example, if you compare the Civic to Corolla Altis, the ground clearances are 170 mm and 176 mm respectively. But when it comes to wheelbase, the cab-forward design of Honda Civic results in its wheelbase to 2700 mm as compared to 2600 mm of Toyota Corolla Altis. This extra 6 mm of ground clearance and reduction of 100 mm wheelbase means that the effective ground clearance is much more.

    So, if you are worried about the ground clearance, just do not compare the pure GC figures alone.
    Last edited by just4kix; 13th May 2010 at 05:14 PM.
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    Silver Member HACKdown's Avatar
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    Nice... Examples in between, small pics too which makes it easy to understand. Paragraph not more than 40-60 words. Overall man great article.

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    Guardian Angel just4kix's Avatar
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    I borrowed the line art of the car frame (pic 1). The rest of the pictures are my own creations.
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    Silver Member HACKdown's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    Great, that means I can make the similar pics from my PC too. But how? Is any software required?

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    Guardian Angel just4kix's Avatar
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    I use good old MS-Paint. And I spruce up using MS-Visio, Publisher, etc.
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    Thanks man, I'll try to make some!

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