Understanding Off-Roading Lingo


If you’re new to the world of off roading, you may be hearing some terms that you’re not familiar with. These terms tend to be used by off roaders who have years of experience or have been involved in the sport longer than you have. Below we are going to be giving you some of the most common terms along with their meanings so that you can understand what everyone is talking about and you won’t feel embarrassed if you aren’t sure what a term means.

  • Aftermarket – Is a term that is generally used to describe parts that were installed on a Jeep after it was purchased. Most aftermarket parts are used to modify the Jeep’s appearance and performance.
  • Built Rig – This term refers to a modified vehicle that offers better performance than when it was in stock form.
  • Locking Differentials – Also called lockers, refers to differentials that improve a Jeep’s ability to maneuver in low traction environments. Locking differentials or lockers essentially lock both the right and left wheels of an axle together providing the Jeep with better traction.
  • Solid or Straight Axle – A solid axle suspension system works as a single unit, including the drive shafts. Benefits of a solid axle or live axle as it is sometimes called, is that ground clearance below the axle stays the same when going over rocks or logs. Solid axles also allow for better traction because the wheels stay on the ground.
  • Traction – This term refers to the amount of traction between two surfaces. The better your traction, the better your vehicle will perform.
  • Tire Bead – Tire bead refers to the edge of the tire that sits into the wheel rim creating an air tight seal. Once the tire is inflated and a seal is created the term sealing the bead can be used.
  • Beadlock – When off roading the bead of a tire may become damaged. When climbing rocks or other obstacles the best results are often obtained when the tires are at a lower tire pressure. The drawback to lowering the pressure in your tires is that it compromises the bead. A device known as bead lock can be used to hold the tire to wheel, which enables the tire to hold load and maintain pressure.
  • Ground Clearance – This term refers to the amount of space between the ground and the lowest point of your vehicle.

These are only a few terms to help you better understand what everyone is talking about out on the trails.

Written by Andrew

"You're telling me it's got four wheels, two seats and goes faster than the speed limit? Good, I'm driving."

4 comments

  1. I appreciate this a lot. I’m ‘the new kid on the block’ so the terminology is sometimes over my head. I asked a couple of times but the guy I asked rolled his eyes at me like I should know it or leave. I hesitate to invoke ‘the look’ again so I don’t ask. I figure eventually, I’ll get it, one way or another.

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  2. This is a good thing to know. A lot of us don’t have years of experience and we feel like we’re in left field with blind folders on. I was a fan of Cliff notes in high school too. This is kinda like that too.

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  3. I’m so new to the the Jeep world that this is a great reference tool. I’m going to copy it and carry it around until I get the hang of it. Thanks.

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  4. Now I get it. I heard a couple of guys talking about beadlock the other day but didn’t want to ask. Hate to look like an idiot. I thought maybe I’d figure it out if I listened long enough but it didn’t happen.

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