How Can The Ground Clearance Of A Buggy Be Increased
There’s nothing quite like driving a buggy over the sand dunes. This versatile vehicle can also be taken out on the snow or mud, still giving you tons of fun. Here in St. George, buggies are becoming an increasingly familiar sight at Sand Hollow State Park where their owners get to do as much dune bashing as they wish.
However, your buggy may sit too low to the ground. This is inconvenient for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it makes it difficult to carry passengers because the buggy starts dragging on the ground. This makes for an uncomfortable ride. For another, having a low ground clearance makes it easy to damage the engine, the transmission, or other vital components in the vehicle’s undercarriage. All it takes is for you to come down hard over some rocks, snagging the under part of the buggy.
For these reasons, it makes sense to want to increase the ground clearance of a buggy. There are 3 ways this can be done- through getting bigger tires, installing a lift kit, or adjusting the torsion bar tension.
Getting Bigger Tires
This is the easiest way to get more ground clearance on a buggy. Increasing the size of the tires also means that you’ll get more traction for driving in the sand, mud or snow. It also gives your buggy an aggressive look that is sure to have heads turning when you take out your vehicle.
Before increasing the size of the tires, it is important to consider the effect this will have on the vehicle. Most buggies can easily handle an increase of one to two tire sizes larger than stock with no issues. However, larger tires mean heavier or more mass for the engine to move and this can result in a host of problems including increased clutch wear, axle failure and the wearing out of parts such as the wheel bearings, shocks, among others thanks to the increased stress they’ll be subjected to.
Additionally, the larger the tires, the higher the gear ratio becomes and less torque and power the buggy has. This leads to slow speeds when you need it most e.g. when going up those dunes or negotiating obstacles. This may be tackled with a clutch kit or a gear reduction kit.
Another thing to consider is that increasing the tire size means raising the center of gravity and this can make the buggy unstable, making rollovers more likely. Buggies typically have a low center of gravity and this keeps them planted to the ground, giving them good speed and handling. Increasing the size of the tires can throw the vehicle out of balance.
The good news is, most buggies are designed to go up a tire size or two without any problems.
Installing a Buggy Lift Kit
Another way to increase the ground clearance on a buggy is by installing a buggy lift kit. This also helps the vehicle take on larger tires than the stock ones.
A buggy lift kit gives you more ground clearance between the tire and fender, lifting the buggy off the ground and protecting the undercarriage from damage, especially when off-roading.
Buggy lift kits are available in different sizes and most of them come with all the components ready for installation. A lift kit installs between the chassis and the body and comes with the hardware necessary to bolt-on everything together. For easy installation, most kits recommend having the chassis lifted away from the body.
When installing a lift kit, you may have to make other modifications to the buggy to make it more stable. This may include upgrading the suspension and shocks. You also have to consider whether the drivetrain and suspension will be affected then make the necessary adjustments.
Installing a lift kit is a simple job, in most cases, and can be done on your own if you have a few free hours and the know-how.
Adjusting The Torsion Bar Tension
If you want more ground clearance on a buggy, you also have the option of adjusting the torsion bar tension. This increases clearance on the rear buggy wheels and is a great fix if the rear of the vehicle is dragging. Increasing clearance at the rear gives the buggy an advantage when clearing obstacles and also allows it to carry more weight without dragging.
Adjusting the torsion bar tension is a more technical fix than installing a lift kit or fitting larger tires on the buggy. This process should not be attempted unless you have the right tools and knowledge of what you’re doing. It involves jacking up the buggy, supporting it on jack stands, removing the rear tires and shocks and disconnecting the brake lines, among others.
Extra caution is needed when removing some of these components e.g. the swing plates because they have a lot of tension and you don’t want to damage the parts or cause injury to yourself in the process.
Disassembling the parts, adjusting the tension then reassembling everything back together can take a while and is a job that may be best left to the professionals.
Talk to Us About Buggy Upgrades
Adjusting your buggy’s ground clearance involves a lot more than just slapping on a lift kit or some beefier tires. There’s a science to it and you have to consider several things. Lifting the buggy higher increases stress on plenty of other vehicle components and also affects its center of gravity. You also have to consider suspension travel and axle articulation, among others.
As buggy enthusiasts and off-road manufacturers, we at Red Dot Engineering know how frustrating it can be to have a buggy that sits too close to the ground. We have designed and manufactured plenty of buggies and have both the tools and expertise required to modify and increase the ground clearance on these vehicles without affecting their handling.
Contact us today if you need your buggy’s clearance increased or would like a custom-made one.