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How Important Is Ground Clearance For An RC Vehicle?


Foreground: Monster Truck. Background: On-Road Car.

Comparing Ground Clearance on On-Road and Off-Road RCs. Foreground: Monster Truck. Background: Sedan. | Your Questions, Answered | FAQ Categories: Features | Operating RCs | Airplanes | Subs | Nitro RCs | Tires & Wheels | Painting RCs

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Question: How Important Is Ground Clearance For An RC Vehicle?
Ground clearance refers to the distance between the bottom of the chassis and the ground when the RC is sitting on a flat surface. Bigger off-road tires will raise a vehicle higher above the ground.

Ground clearance becomes a factor when you want to drive on anything other than a flat, smooth surface.

On-Road RC Ground Clearance

On-road vehicles -- most RC cars -- typically have a very low ground clearance. They are built for speed -- low and fast -- and designed for driving on streets or floors. They won't drive easily (or at all) on uneven surfaces because the chassis sits so low to the ground that there's no room underneath to clear obstacles like rocks or even thick grass. A typical 1:8 or 1:10 scale on-road RC car may have less than 1/4 inch of ground clearance.

Off-Road RC Ground Clearance

Off-road RC vehicles have a higher ground clearance that allows them to handle much rougher, uneven terrain including grass, hills, ruts, and rocks. Coupled with a tough suspension, a higher ground clearance enables an RC to land jumps and maneuver over other dirt track features more easily.

The ground clearance on a typical 1:8 or 1:10 scale RC truck is 3-5 inches.

Ground Clearance and Center of Gravity

Depending on where the manufacturer puts other components, a higher ground clearance can present some problems. Raising the chassis higher can result in a higher center of gravity which can make the vehicle less stable, more suspectible to flipping over. RC manufacturers strive to achieve a balance between a high ground clearance and a reasonable center of gravity on off-road vehicles like monster trucks, truggies, and rock crawlers. To increase stability, these vehicles with higher ground clearances also usually have a wider stance or wheelbase -- greater distance between the left and right wheels -- so they're not as likely to have roll-overs when cornering at high speeds.

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