What is Ground Clearance?

Ground clearance, also known as ride height, refers to the distance between the lowest point of the vehicle (usually the chassis or suspension) and the ground surface.

The standard ground clearance for most passenger vehicles ranges from 5 to 8 inches. However, trucks, SUVs and other off-road vehicles often have higher ground clearances of 9 inches or more to allow for uneven terrain.

Factors That Determine a Vehicle’s Ground Clearance

  • Vehicle Type – Ground clearance varies depending on whether it’s a sedan, SUV, truck, etc.
  • Suspension Design – Air suspension vs regular suspension impacts ride height.
  • Load Being Carried – Extra cargo/gear in a vehicle lowers its ground clearance.
  • Modifications – Aftermarket lift kits increase ground clearance significantly.

Why is Ground Clearance Important for Auto Transport?

When shipping vehicles via open transport methods like auto carriers, ground clearance becomes a major factor that can impact the safe and successful delivery of a car.

Risk of Damage

Low riding cars are at high risk of damage due to contact with ramps, ties, skids and uneven/potholed roads during loading/unloading and transit. Even small obstacles can cause expensive scrapes and gashes to a vehicle’s undercarriage.

Height Restrictions

Bridges and overpasses often have ground clearance limits that auto transporters must adhere to. Low riding cars may get stuck or damaged if their height exceeds these limits on the transport route.

Inability to Load/Unload

Ground clearance is crucial to safely navigate various inclines and ramp angles needed to load onto and unload from flatbed/auto carriers. Cars with insufficient clearance cannot be properly secured for safe transport.

Recommended Ground Clearance for Auto Transport

As a general guideline, auto transport professionals recommend the following minimum ground clearances:

  • Sedans/Coupes – 8 inches
  • SUVs/Trucks – 10 inches
  • Off-road vehicles – 12 inches

These numbers provide a reasonable safety cushion to avoid possible issues during loading/unloading and transit due to obstructions.

Exceptions for Lower Riding Cars

In some cases, auto carriers may be able to safely transport vehicles with slightly lower clearances if they are transported with extra straps/ties and the drivers follow precautions like taking alternate routes.

However, such transport always poses a higher risk of potential damage compared to vehicles meeting the recommended heights.

Modifying Ground Clearance for Transport

For cars that do not meet the minimum clearance requirements, vehicle owners have a few options:

Use Special Carriers

Enclosed auto transport trailers provide protection from obstacles but have higher costs compared to open carriers.

Adjust Suspension Temporarily

Some suspension systems allow for temporarily increasing ride height through techniques like adding spacers between coil springs.

Install Aftermarket Lift Kit

Permanent lift kits effectively increase clearance long-term, though installation requires time and money investment.

Transport on Trailer or Enclosed Truck

Driving or towing the vehicle to its destination on its own wheels ensures no grounding issues during transport.


Ground clearance is a major factor auto carriers consider while determining vehicle transport eligibility. Maintaining sufficient ride height minimizes risks of potential damage during loading/unloading or transit. For low riding cars, special transport arrangements or temporary modifications can enable safe door-to-door auto transportation.

Understanding ground clearance requirements ensures a smoother vehicle shipping experience with peace of mind. Checking vehicle height against carrier guidelines is always recommended before booking an auto transport service.