Road Condition Speak ??

Submitted: Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009 at 13:12
ThreadID: 65454 Views:2673 Replies:8 FollowUps:2
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Being a complete novice at 4WDing around our land - I am confused at the following comments in our Road Conditions listing ..

What does HIGH CLEARANCE only mean exactly ??

More particularly does a Jeep Cherokee class as a high clearance vehicle ?


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Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009 at 13:50

Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009 at 13:50
High clearance often refers to a high ridge in the middle of the road between the two wheel tracks. In places these are high enough to prevent non-4WD vehicles travelling or does considerable damage to underbody. If made by large trucks they can stop 4WD also.

Older jeeps would handle high clearance but not sure about the latest models. Clearance is one of the reasons a lot of owners raise the vehicle as well as getting tougher suspension upgrades.

Smooth wheel tracks can have rather large rocks in the centre of the road. If towing, dangling chains can dislodge and throw these rocks everywhere.

Road conditions are very short lived - be prepared to read them yourself and drive appropriately. A high clearance road which has just been graded can have the rocks distributed over the entire width. Rain can completely alter road surface as of course does traffic volume.

AnswerID: 346162

Follow Up By: Mandrake - Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009 at 14:02

Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009 at 14:02
Thanks Alan ,

Never even considered the ridge between the tracks !!

As I am out on my own most of the time I avoid water jumps , bogs and deep ruts !!

And although the upcoming 7000 Kms is mostly on tar - I need to know about track conditions and terminology as we will be venturing a short way off road for Photos and camps ...

Thanks for the info

FollowupID: 614133

Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009 at 13:53

Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009 at 13:53
Mandrake, in this context I would call your Jeep 'high clearance', but you could stuff it up with a low tow bar and hitch if you tried.
As a comparison, I would NOT call a Forrester 'high clearance'.

It is about what sort of obsticles you can drive over without getting hung up. It does not matter if the vehicle is 4x4 or not. Probably you could call an old VW Kombi 'high clearance'.

The exact 'definition' is likely to vary, but you get the idea.

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AnswerID: 346163

Reply By: Mandrake - Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009 at 14:03

Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009 at 14:03
Thanks Peter ,
AnswerID: 346165

Reply By: Geoff (Newcastle, NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009 at 14:34

Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009 at 14:34
I think we need some form national rating system for this type of thing.

I propose we use The Westfield Factor.

As I see it the factor would work like this, it would be a number such as 0.25 which would mean the vehicle has a 25% chance of negotiating a Westfield speed bump head on without losing crucial underbody components.

As an example, some of these flash plastic kitted Commodore's and Falcon's have to go over the speed bumps at Westfield at a 45 degree angle. This would indicate the driver knows they are going to do damage if they negotiate it front on so we assign a rating of 1.0 or 100% chance of doing damage.

If the vehicle is fitted with doof doof, air bag suspension and the driver has his base ball cap on backwards we'd assign a value of 1.5 or 2.0 as there is absolutely no chance of crossing a speed bump without getting hung on the door sills and requiring jacking, ramps etc.

A Prado or Pajero would be given a value of 0.0 under normal circumstances (0% chance of getting stuck) but if there are soccer balls in the rear, they are near a school or even at Westfield itself these would be derated to about 0.75 or 75% chance of getting stuck!

I'm sure others can think of ways of improving this system and even be able to suggest ratings for popular vehicles!


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AnswerID: 346167

Follow Up By: Rockape - Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009 at 14:43

Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009 at 14:43
Love your reply Geoff.

Have a good one
FollowupID: 614139

Reply By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009 at 18:52

Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009 at 18:52
At a guess, I would work on about 200mm clearance as per the manual you may have.

Most 4wds with a low range generally are rated at about 200 to 230mm clearance off the show room floor, that is to the lowest point on the vehicle, which is usually diffs.
Some vehicles may have the front air dam as the lowest point, so if you don't mind catching that , you will be fine.
Now what you have with a load on board may be a different again to off the show room floor.

And if I remember correctly, the old XT (1969) ford falcon had about 180mm clearance :o).

So the rule of thumb I use is to see if it will clear a besser block (190mm) on the driveway when loaded. If you baulk, you may be too low for a high clearance vehicle!

Reckon that works better than a Westfield bump test.
AnswerID: 346204

Reply By: Hairy (NT) - Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009 at 22:07

Tuesday, Jan 27, 2009 at 22:07
"does a Jeep Cherokee class as a high clearance vehicle ? "
AnswerID: 346225

Reply By: Smudger - Wednesday, Jan 28, 2009 at 11:38

Wednesday, Jan 28, 2009 at 11:38
"High Clearance Vehicles Only" tells you that the track has dips, ridges, exposed boulders, or washouts, which can cause damage to the sump, diffs &etc. High clearance is also very useful in soft sand, when low hanging diffs can act like an plough and cause the vehicle to loose momentum and ultimately get bogged. (As I experienced in the Simpson Desert recently, with my 80 series' under vehicle spare wheel dragging me to a standstill halfway up Big Red .. v. embarrassing)
It means that family wagons like Falcons Holdens Magnas etc. may come to grief. These vehicles have a ground clearance of around 140mm or less.
Cherokee is recognised as a very capable off-roader, albeit with what's considered a limited ground clearnace (189mm - By comparison 80 series Landcruiser has a clearance of 214mm.) So, when you're looking down the track at a washout in your Cherokee, go in low and slow and pick your course.
AnswerID: 346306

Reply By: klacka - Wednesday, Jan 28, 2009 at 12:07

Wednesday, Jan 28, 2009 at 12:07
I have a 2006 Grande Cherokee CRD it had a standard ground clearance of 210 mm with factory tyres not a lot less than your 200 Landcruisers standard at 225mm. (Refer "Drive" Specs) I have fitted Coopers ST tyres can't recall the size but they have raised the vehicle by 15mm, not a lot but every bit helps. Have crawled up "Little Red" and "Big Red" without any issues whatsoever,Jeep standard Quadratrack drive is the best.
BUT the suspension has its drawbacks a set of Poly Airbags on the back stiffened up the rear end and new OME struts has stopped the front end bouncing around on corrugations.
Hope this helps

AnswerID: 346310

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