I have recently bought my first 4×4 and have to say that I am feeling overwhelmed with all the terms and technology. Please explain some of the common terms in layman’s terms. – Sunette Truter
Our writer and digital content creator, Anton Willemse Jnr, has undergone a number of 4×4 training courses and continuously learns “on the job”. He explains some of the most common terms:
• Approach angle: The steepest angle a vehicle can climb before its front bumper, or the front-most part of the vehicle makes contact with the ground. The approach angle can be improved by installing a raised bullbar, a lift kit, bigger tyres, or a combination of the three.
• Articulation: The length of travel as a suspension system compresses over a bump or droops over a
hole when traversing uneven terrain. The more travel, the more traction available at each wheel for moving forward.
• Break-over angle: The steepest degree of slope that a vehicle can theoretically drive over without scraping (or hanging up), measured between the axles to the lowest point underneath the vehicle.
• Departure angle: This relates to the steepest angle a vehicle can exit before its rear bumper or the furthest point to the rear of the vehicle makes contact with the ground.
• Diff lock (locking differential): A locking differential forces both drive wheels on the same axle to rotate at the same speed, so whichever wheel has traction will power the vehicle forward.
• Ground clearance: The space between the ground and the lowest part of a vehicle’s underside, usually the lowest part of a differential. Bigger tyres will raise this value. A lift kit will raise the chassis and thus the other vulnerable parts underneath the vehicle.
• Traction control: Traction control is an active safety feature engineered by vehicle manufacturers to allow vehicles to take maximum advantage of available traction on the road surface by limiting or preventing wheels with less traction from spinning.
• Wading depth: This is the theoretical depth of water that a vehicle can pass through without water entering the intake tract. Water crossings are dangerous, and other factors may well apply.
*Most dealers and manufacturers offer driver training when you purchase your 4×4. Enquire and enrol – the better you understand your 4×4, the better your off-roading experience will be. Enjoy your ride. – Ed.