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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Forum members,

I climbed under a 2018 Transit, a 2019 Sprinter, and a 2018 Nissan NV, and measured the ground clearance on all three with a measuring tape.

You can see the results for yourself in the attached photos.

I nearly bought a Sprinter AWD 144 HR last week instead of waiting for a 2020 Tranist AWD due to the 6.5" ground clearance at the shock mount on the Transits. It appears this height isn't expected to change, or not by much, on the Transit AWD based on review photos that clearly show the low shock mounts are still in place.

My question is this: what is the maximum possible (within reason) ground clearance that existing owners have been able to achieve with minimal negative impact on road noise/driveability, etc?

Van Compass makes a kit (before and after photos attached) that will buy you about 1" at the lowest point of the shock mounts, possibly closer to 1.25", although they don't place the measuring tape at the lowest point in their after photo.

Combined with the largest (within reason) rims and tires (okay to do a small amount of cutting to the body if necessary), I'm curious if I can meet the factory Sprinter's 8.5-8.75" of clearance, which can go up to 9.25" with larger rims/tires and no body cutting.

Thanks for any photos w/measuring tape (the only thing I believe), or hard data citing what can be accomplished in this regard. I have a known and definitive need for ground clearance, and would appreciate any help in ascertaining if I'll be able to enjoy all the benefits of a gas engine (no DEF/DPF regens, etc of diesel) while still getting a high roof and at least a basic functioning AWD system.

Cheers.

Mark
 

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The only way to achieve higher ground clearance for ALL structures underneath is to use larger diameter tires. And remember the difference between diameter and radius; a 2" taller tire results in only 1" more clearance.

Given that, it's difficult to fit a 4" taller tire on the Transit without cutting away parts of the body and trim (in front) or creating an inadequate clearance for mud, snow/ice, rocks that will get into the wheel well if you venture off the pavement. The picture below shows a 3-4" clearance being packed, and large tires on a Transit would leave about an inch or less clearance. A lift kit can help, but the shape of the wheel well doesn't "open up" much even with 3" lift because the narrow section is close to or lower than the center of the rim. It's a conundrum.

(yes, some people have put giant tires on their Transit, and they will claim "they fit", but they are most likely not using the van in the inclement conditions mentioned above)

https://nbcmontana.com/news/local/ice-buildup-on-vehicles-could-be-dangerous_2016051215202329
 

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The Van Compass shock mount rework requires that you use a 2" bump stop so you do not bottom out the shock.



Isn't that a round about way of saying that your suspension travel is reduced by 2"?


Is the extra 1" clearance to the shock mount worth the compromise? My differential housing and sway bar seem to be just as low. I figure that if the wheel goes in a rut and I high center the van, it's most likely the high is going to be near the center where my differential housing is.


I don't like the shock towers sticking down there, but they don't seem to be the problem they look like they should be.
 

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I don't like the shock towers sticking down there, but they don't seem to be the problem they look like they should be.
This. In any off-road driving you need to know where your low points are and consider them as you drive. This applies with a stock Transit just as it does on a lifted Land Cruiser. I drive a lot off-road here in the boonies of Colorado. I don't worry about the shock mounts too much. I would worry about them driving in deep sand, but that's about it.

Also, the comment about snow and ice not being compatible with larger tires on a Transit is overstated. Northwest CO got a ton of snow this year - many of my 360 mile RT commutes From 7k feet to 11k feet and back were in snow. The tires clear out the snow and ice from the wheel wells as you drive just as they do with smaller tires.
 

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I have not done it but been doing some research.

It only reduces the low end of travel so if you are properly loaded and sprung it is not likely an issue.

I believe that you can get a shorter shock that will result in the same suspension travel with the higher lower shock mounts. I'm at 60K miles and likely need new shocks so it is not that much of a negative.

There is a cheap rear spring mounting strap upgrade that can give you .5" of lift. I've been looking for a small rear spring 1" lift block. A 1" rear lift seems a good compromise between dragging the rear end / hitting the center of the van and having a van that is too tall to comfortably get into.

The mounts are definitely lower than the differential and can hit stuff. I've been lucky so far. On the plus side, if you do destroy the lower mount you can still drive and the repair is likely to be the install of a mount relocation kit.

Ron
 

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This. In any off-road driving you need to know where your low points are and consider them as you drive. This applies with a stock Transit just as it does on a lifted Land Cruiser. I drive a lot off-road here in the boonies of Colorado. I don't worry about the shock mounts too much. I would worry about them driving in deep sand, but that's about it.

Also, the comment about snow and ice not being compatible with larger tires on a Transit is overstated. Northwest CO got a ton of snow this year - many of my 360 mile RT commutes From 7k feet to 11k feet and back were in snow. The tires clear out the snow and ice from the wheel wells as you drive just as they do with smaller tires.
Yes they do, as long as they are turning. But driving on straight roads for a long way and packing in the slush and then trying to TURN but the wheels won't because they're blocked is a concern. I've actually had that happen in my Tacoma, had to get out and knock out the ice so I could turn. This is a rare occurrence, but it can and does happen. Reducing the clearance to less than an inch makes it much more likely.
 

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The mounts are definitely lower than the differential and can hit stuff. ...
Ron

I just went and measured, and agree with you.


The bottom of the differential is 6.5" and the bottom of the shock mount is 5.5" from the flat concrete surface my van is parked on.


I am still more concerned about the differential clearance than the shock mount.
 

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I just measured for fun. 8.25" to shock mounts and 9.125" to differential on my Quigley (2" lift) with 33" tires.
My Syncro Westy is 9.5" at the low point.

My FZJ80 on 33s is 9.5" at the rear differential. This is it on Rose Garden Hill on Kokopelli Trail. Granted, it is super flexy, but both the front and rear diffs are right at 9.5". Of course I would never take my Transit, or even a 6" lifted SMB on a trail like this. The point is it's about knowing where the low points are.
[/url]DSC_0663 by Steve Stewart, on Flickr[/IMG]
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I just went and measured...bottom of the differential is 6.5" and the bottom of the shock mount is 5.5" from the flat concrete surface my van is parked on.
Thank you for measuring! What year/model of Transit? Any idea why you're showing a full 1" lower than the photo I took of a 2018 Transit? Shouldn't a fully loaded vehicle only lower the body, not the shock mounts, or am I misunderstanding that?

Thanks!

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I just measured for fun. 8.25" to shock mounts and 9.125" to differential on my Quigley (2" lift) with 33" tires.
This is very useful -- thank you! What year/model Transit did you have converted at Quigley? I had seriously considered a quigley convert, but the $$ was too high for my needs. 2020 AWD Transit is very tempting, if I can improve the clearance without breaking the bank.
 

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Thank you for measuring! What year/model of Transit? Any idea why you're showing a full 1" lower than the photo I took of a 2018 Transit? Shouldn't a fully loaded vehicle only lower the body, not the shock mounts, or am I misunderstanding that?

Thanks!

Mark

Hi,
Our Van is a 2017 Medium Length, Medium Roof Passenger van with a 3.73 limited slip differential and the stock 28" diameter Continental 235/65-16 tires.
 

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This is very useful -- thank you! What year/model Transit did you have converted at Quigley? I had seriously considered a quigley convert, but the $$ was too high for my needs. 2020 AWD Transit is very tempting, if I can improve the clearance without breaking the bank.
Mine is a 2017 HR (not extended) ecoboost.
 

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IMHO either of the current 4x4 Transit offerings, with 31" tires and shortened lower rear shock mounts are more than adequate for 90% of off-road use. The AWD Transit will need a 2" lift, 31" wheels and relocated lower shock mounts to get the same level of off-road utility.

Rock crawling is another matter all together. IMHO the Transit's wheelbase is not ideal. That said, people rock crawl in full size pick-ups - and they have a similar wheelbase.

I believe at least one up-fitter is testing Ford Raptor front end components on a 4x4 Transit, to place the front wheels further outboard and get the extra clearance for 35" tires. Seems like an interesting approach and I'm hopeful we will hear more on this soon.

Taking it to the next level, there is an Australian company that has developed a portal axle kit for Nissan and Toyota trucks. Its a direct bolt-on. It would be really cool to have a similar kit for 4x4 Transits. That would put Transits in the same league as those crazy Icelandic Sprinters with Unimog axles and 44" tires.
 

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...
This is it on Rose Garden Hill on Kokopelli Trail. Granted, it is super flexy, but both the front and rear diffs are right at 9.5". Of course I would never take my Transit, or even a 6" lifted SMB on a trail like this. The point is it's about knowing where the low points are.
[/url]DSC_0663
by Steve Stewart, on Flickr[/IMG]

Hmmm ... I know that hill!


Google Maps says the hill is 37.0 miles from my drive way, but I know a short cut. :)

I'm only 914 miles west, but ride Moab area every couple of years.


Its a tough climb for old guys!



BRAAAP!

Catfish ...
 

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Hmmm ... I know that hill!





I'm only 914 miles west, but ride Moab area every couple of years.


Its a tough climb for old guys!



BRAAAP!

Catfish ...
Hey Catfish, great to see you on this forum. You did a fine job of remapping my Caponord back in the day! Steve
 
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So far my experience with my Transit (2WD/stock, Quadvan coming in the Fall) is neither the shock mounts, nor the diff height, but the intercooler height in the front bumper. I was doing some fairly mild forest service road driving a few weeks ago and managed to smack the intercooler on a relatively small bump. This caused the the intercooler to both deform, and push back and into the power steering pump, shredding the pulley and eliminating power steering and A/C. Fortunately the water pump and alternator are on a separate (less exposed) belt and I was able to drive it out, but this was a pretty alarming (and expensive) experience. New intercooler, intake piping, power steering pump, and pump bracket later and she's back in one piece. So I would suggest an intercooler skid plate be the first port of call when getting a Transit ready for off-roading.

My hope is that the 2" lift with the Quadvan setup, another 1-1.5" from moving up to 245/75-16 AT tires, and a skid plate make the front end a bit less sensitive, but approach angle is definitely something my old T1N Sprinter had in spades that the transit is sorely lacking.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
My hope is that the 2" lift with the Quadvan setup, another 1-1.5" from moving up to 245/75-16 AT tires, and a skid plate make the front end a bit less sensitive, but approach angle is definitely something my old T1N Sprinter had in spades that the transit is sorely lacking.
Good to know! Thank you. Just to clarify, the damage was sustained on a vehicle without a 2" lift and with stock tires?

I suspect the 2" lift and larger tires would have prevented this, but it sounds like approach angle is a problem. I can tell the Sprinter 4x4 is just better all around at offroading, but I'll be damned if its emissions system, DEF sensors, diesel + idling issues aren't enough to make it a no-go for anyone who plans to use the vehicle in a variety of settings. I routinely spend a few months in LA driving through stop/go from hollywood to the various beaches, and in the hot desert southwest, idling to keep the a/c running when doing just about anything that requires 10-15 minutes of stopping is necessary, otherwise the cabin heats up to 120 degrees by the time you get back in. Stop/go + idling = kiss of death for a sprinter (eventually). Plenty of new users excitedly tell you they haven't had any problems, but they're just asking for it. Some are doing $175-$350 oil changes every 3,000 miles (helps a bit, but not enough unless you delete the EGR valve and install a catch tank).

It's all making a gas ecoboost AWD Transit seem worth it, even if the 2" lift, 31" tires, and shock mount fix are a default change I'll make from the very start. I had also begun budgeting skid plates for the sprinter, so I may just add them to the transit budget too, but I suspect the inadequate suspension (upgrade?) and sway characteristics of a fully loaded high roof van will make me avoid anything too gnarly anyways. I just want to get down most of the forest roads that I typically navigat with nothing more than a bit of risky maneuvering in an old 2WD SUV. High Roof sounds like the biggest problem (tree limbs), so I'm still debating low roof + pop-up, but they have issues too, and don't provide as much space.

Cheers.

Mark
 
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