4X4 Glossary of Terms
ABS: Antilock Braking System.
AIR DOWN: To lower the air pressure in the tires to improve traction off-road.
AIR LOCKER: A brand of locking differential from ARB. It acts like an open differential until it’s actuated by compressed air. Then it completely locks, causing both tires to rotate at the same speed regardless of traction.
APPROACH ANGLE: The maximum incline angle that a vehicle can climb without encountering front bumper or undercarriage damage.
ARMOR-CLAD: Slang for a vehicle that is equipped with heavy-duty skidplates for the undercarriage or body protection.
BASKET CASE: An engine or vehicle that is in pieces.
BEATER: A thrashed and very ugly truck that’s usually mechanically sound. In some circles, this is used as a derogatory term, but in four-wheeling it can be a term of respect.
BEEFING: A general term used to describe modifying a stock part or vehicle to be stronger. An upgraded part or truck can also be referred to as beefed-up.
BOG: (1) The large pit of mud at a mud-bog race. (2) Running an engine below its intended rpm range by being in a gear that’s too high for the speed or load.
BOMBER:Another word for a beater, although this usually refers to a poorly running beater.
BISCUIT: Slang for body bushings used to lift the body of the vehicle from the frame to gain ground clearance. They are also referred to as donuts.
BULLETPROOF: When a truck or part is upgraded or modified so that it is extremely strong.
CORNBINDER: Slang for any truck made by International Harvester because the company is known for its farming equipment. These trucks are also referred to as ’Binders.
CRAWL RATIO: The lowest gear ratio in a truck, found by multiplying the First-gear ratio times the low-range ratio times the axle ratio.
DOUBLE-LINE: To route the winch cable from the vehicle to a snatch block, then back to the vehicle. This doubles the pulling power of the winch but cuts its speed in half.
DROOP: Downward suspension travel.
DROPPED PITMAN ARM: An aftermarket part that extends farther to the steering linkage than the stock arm. It corrects steering geometry by reducing the drag-link angle in relation to the tie rods on lifted 4x4s. A pitman arm connects the steering box to the truck’s steering linkage.
FLAT-TOP: A piston without a dish or dome, although it usually has valve reliefs machined into the top.
FULL-FLOATER: A rearend design in which the axles don’t carry the weight of the vehicle. This is the preferred setup for ’wheeling because if the axle breaks, the vehicle can still roll freely.
FULLSIZE: Usually the largest pickup truck a manufacturer makes for the public. The term has been used rather loosely in recent years as vehicles have become smaller. A Toyota T100 is called a fullsize even though many would argue it is not big enough.
GNARLY: (1) A trail that is extremely difficult. (2) Both a positive and a negative description (depending on the context) used by younger generations.
GRANNY LOW: An ultralow First gear in a manual transmission, typically between 4.3:1 and 7.0:1. If Granny can pass you in her walker while you are in First gear, you have a granny-low First gear.
GRENADE: To blow up a part on your truck. Trannies, rearends, transfer cases, and engines can grenade. This is definitely a bad thing.
HEAVY METAL: Slang for a fullsize truck.
HIGH-CENTERED: When a vehicle is caught on an obstacle near the center, usually on the frame, and is unable to move. This is more common with stock-height vehicles traveling over rough terrain.
HUMMER: A vehicle made by AM General. It was originally produced for the military but is now available to civilians. The military uses the designation HMMWV (pronounced Hum-Vee), which stands for High Mobility Multiple Wheeled Vehicle.
HYDRAULIC’D: A nasty occurrence in which the engine sucks water into the cylinders through the intake. Unfortunately, water doesn’t compress well, and the result is usually bent connecting rods and valves, which make the engine unable to turn.
KISS: When a truck lightly hits an object such as a rock, but neither sustains damage, as in, “Did you hit that rock?” “No, I just kissed it.”
LIFT BLOCK: A block placed between the rear axle and leaf springs to gain lift. Lift blocks should never be used on front axles, and such use is illegal in most states.
LIFTED: A truck that is raised by either a suspension or a body lift or both.
LINE: The positioning and maneuvering of a truck over an obstacle. The line a driver takes can be the difference between success and stuck.
LOCKED IN: Manual locking hubs set in the lock position are said to be locked in.
LOCKED UP: (1) A 4×4 that has locking differentials at both ends is locked up. (2) A hydraulic’d motor is usually locked up.
LOCKER: A differential that allows engine power to be delivered to both wheels, giving maximum traction. This is helpful during situations when one wheel is off the ground.
LOW GEARS: Gears with a numerically higher ratio; 4.56 gears are lower than 3.73 gears.
MASSAGED: (1) Modifications usually to an engine or body. (2) Sheetmetal damage that occurs from hitting rocks or other obstacles during four-wheeling.
MEATS: Tires. Also referred to as donuts, treads, or rubber. Generally used when referring to oversized tires.
MONDO: Large, huge, or massive.
OFF CAMBER: When the trail is on a sideways incline, usually very steep. Off-camber trails increase the likelihood of a rollover.
OFF-ROAD: A misnomer for driving on established dirt trails. Unfortunately, in recent years this term has become politically incorrect because it implies leaving the trail and bounding through the countryside. The correct term is “off-highway,” but most people (including us) still use off-road to refer to driving on dirt roads.
OPEN DIFFERENTIAL: A differential that usually comes stock on 4x4s. It directs power to the wheel with the least resistance to spinning. One-leggers and peg-leggers are slang terms for open diffs.
PAPERWEIGHT: A part that is broken beyond repair.
PLUMBING: Any hose on a vehicle, such as the brake lines.
PTO: Power Take-Off. An output shaft on the transfer case or transmission that sends engine power to accessories like a PTO winch. A PTO-driven accessory is not very common on noncommercial vehicles.
PUMP GAS: 85- to 93-octane gas available at filling stations.
PUMPKIN: The centersection of a front or rear differential housing. This can also refer to a removable centersection such as the kind used in a Ford 9-inch or a Toyota rear differential housing.
ROCKCRAWLER: A 4×4 built specifically for maneuvering through rocky terrain.
SHOW TRUCK: A customized truck that is built specifically for competing in shows and for looks. These trucks rarely see use.
SNATCH BLOCK: A winching device used to double-line or to change the winch’s direction of pull. It usually consists of a hook, or some other method of attaching the device to an anchor, and a pulley for the winch cable.
SUCKING SAND: If you are following a vehicle on a dry dirt road with the windows open, you are sucking sand.
SWAMPED: (1) When a vehicle becomes stuck while submarining and fills with water. (2) An engine that has either stalled or hydraulic’d during a water crossing.
TACO’D: A frame or other part such as an axle that has been severely bent, usually when the truck has been jumped too high.
TAG: To hit an obstacle with some part of the truck, as in “I tagged my bumper on that ledge.”
TAIL GUNNER: The last vehicle in a trail-ride caravan. The tail gunner is usually responsible for making sure everyone finishes the trail.
TALL GEARS: Gears with a numerically lower ratio; 3.73:1 gears are taller than 4.56:1 gears.
T-CASE: Short for transfer case. A device usually attached directly to the transmission. The transfer case is a gearbox that splits engine power to the front and rear axles. You can select two-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive high or low range with most transfer cases.
THRASHED: When something has been used far beyond its limit. For example, when a truck has been beaten with wreckless abandon on a trail it had no business being on in the first place, it is said to have been thrashed.
THREE-WHEELING: A term used to describe when one tire has left the ground while ’wheeling. For example, if the driver-side front tire drops into a large enough hole, the passenger-side rear tire will lift off the ground.
TODIOUS: A term our colleagues at 4-Wheel & Off-Road dreamed up, and we intend to use it shamelessly. It means huge, massive, or enlarged. For example, 44-inch Mudders are todious meats.
TRAIL BOSS: The trail leader on a trail ride.
TRAILER QUEEN: Something you will not see in this magazine. It’s a 4×4 that pretends to be trail-ready, but it’s really just a show truck carted around on a trailer.
TRANNY: Short for transmission.
TWEAK: (1) Modifying something to enhance performance, usually called tweaking. (2) To incur body or component damage, as in “I tweaked my bumper when I hit that rock.”
TREE-SAVER: A nylon strap designed to go around a tree to protect it while it’s being used as an anchor point for winching. This is much better than wrapping the cable around the tree, which ruins the cable and the tree.
WHEEL TRAVEL: The total distance a wheel can travel up and down. As a general rule, the more wheel travel, the better.
YANK STRAP: A large nylon strap used for pulling out stuck vehicles. Also referred to as a tow strap.4×4