The quick answer to whether it's possible to ship a car with a low clearance is Yes. However, any car with a clearance below 4 inches may require shipping using an enclosed trailer with an enclosed lift-gate. When a vehicle has low ground clearance, it can’t be transported using an open trailer. This because it will bottom-out on the un-even ramps.
For a better understanding of what all this means, we will delve into details, starting with the most obvious question.
What is ground clearance?
Ground clearance (also referred to as ride height) is one the most basic, yet very critical dimensions of a vehicle. It refers to the minimum distance or space between the road and the lower end of the vehicle’s body. Since the tyres are designated to touch the ground, they are not considered part of this definition. Also, because manufactures usually give the vehicles overall dimensions, ground clearance is not something you need to calculate. Vehicle specifications are usually for the empty car which is why, when the vehicle is fueled, and passengers or cargo added, the ground clearance slightly lowers.
As you can imagine, ground clearance is a hugely important feature of an automobile. As a fact, it significantly determines the usefulness and practicability of a vehicle. It’s the practicability then that defines the target market for different car models. It’s no wonder racing cars have low ground clearance while military vehicles, high ground clearance.
What is low ground clearance?
Vehicles with low ground clearance have a significantly lower center of gravity, lower than average. As a result, they benefit from increased handling and performance. Why? A car with low ground clearance is less likely to topple or roll over when the driver makes sharp or abrupt turns. Vehicles with low ground clearance stick closer to the ground more strongly. Furthermore, because less air passes under the vehicle when driving, the lower stance enhances aerodynamics enhancing the vehicles performance. Going incredibly fast and making crazy turns are vital aspects of racing, so this explains why racing cars must have a low ground clearance. In contrast, a vehicle with a high center of gravity is likely to be affected by outside forces that can cause it to lose track and roll over. If racing cars had a high ground clearance, a racing event would be like a contest where vehicles topple over continually. Very low ground clearances are not practical for everyday cars which is why a compromise between a low ride height and the high one is needed to improve the vehicle's balance. Most executive sedans and other cars have a balanced ground clearance.
What about high ground clearance? What does it mean?
Higher ground clearance is found in automotive with good off-road abilities. On rough roads, higher ground clearance is advisable to avoid scratching the vehicles’ underbelly. The high ground clearance increases the vehicles practically for things such as traveling on rough roads and transporting more cargo. High ground clearance reduces the possibility of the undercarriage being damaged by rough surfaces. The one drawback with high ground clearance is the higher center of gravity which exposes the vehicle to higher chances of rolling over when making sharp turns.
What if you want to increase your cars ground clearance?
Increasing your vehicles ground clearance will make it less vulnerable on rough roads. There are several ways to increase its ground clearance. One way and the cheapest would be to change your vehicles tyres and fit larger ones. A bigger wheel/ tyre diameter increases the tyres circumference. This changes the gearing ratios affecting acceleration.
Another great way would be to adjust the suspension height. There are several things to keep in mind as you adjust your car's height. First, know that a little change makes a lot of difference. Don’t try to turn a lounge lizard into a rock rabbit- if you do this, the results will be disastrous. A suspension lift of about three mattresses will significantly improve your car's performance. If you lift it more than that, your car will have technical problems from the unwanted side-effects of steering geometry.
Remember, always involve automobile experts before making any alterations to your car. In a big way, changing one thing, even if positive, almost always alters another, usually negatively.
If you have any questions regarding shipping your vehicle or any other automobile, feel free to contact us. We will be pleased to serve you.
Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.