What ever happened to this law?

When I was a kid, we had laws governing the distance the undercarriage of a car could be from the road. It could be as high as you wanted, but the rear end gearbox had to be at least X number of inches from the road surface. Cops, stopping hot rodders, would sometimes measure the distance and if it did not pass, the driver with ticketed.

I spotted a perfectly good looking small truck yesterday that was so low to the ground that the rear bumper cleared the road by around 3 inches. The whole body had been lowered, with the front marginally higher.

Previously I watched a really low car creep into a parking lot because the underside scraped on the small incline.

I’ve seen cars not so drastically low, but much lower than when built, scrape over rail road tracks, bottom out leaving parking lots at slow speeds and banging off of irregular spots in the roadway.

What happened to this law? Someone, when I was a teen, told me that the gear box had to be X number of inches from the road for safety and in case someone got run over, they would not get chewed up by it but pass under the thing.

These lowboys irritate me anyhow, because why take a perfectly great truck, remove all of the suspension and drop it down so low that you can’t carry anything and have to creep through mud puddles and up parking lot ramps for fear of bottoming out?

Laws like this one are only formulated in order to oppose signifiers of rebellion. When I was young the signs of vehicle rebellion was either low-riders or elevated suspensions. The police tried to criminalize both because they were signs of rebellion.

Of course, now anybody who is anybody has elevated suspensions- SUVs- but as they are not symbols of rebellion, the police have no interest in it. Simularly, older Citroen cars can be set to low-rider setting, but as they are not driven by potential rebels, they would not be targetted.

Of course, nowadays, kids have a different way of signifying rebellion, and of course these actions will be demonized and possibly crimilalized. Plus-ca-change.

My TR-7 has a whopping 5" ground clearance with a full tank of gas. And this is FACTORY with standard suspension. This car was just built low. (There is one parking lot I can’t enter because the speed bumps are too high!)

My Mazda Protege is by design too low for my taste. And I think I know why: to prevent owners from doing maintenance.

There is no way that I can possibly do something as simple as change the oil because I can’t scoot far enough under the car. Thankfully, brake pad replacement doesn’t need under-car work, or else my $40 brake job I did (parts and tools) would’ve easily been a $300 job at the garage.

Yeah, and it obviously has nothing to do with blinding other drivers because your headlights are at eye level or decapitating others in accidents because you’ve jacked your vehicle up three feet…

Probably because there is really no need for such a law. If someone has a car that’s too low for practical use on the roads, most of the consequences will be to the car owner, when they scrape bottom, and eventually cause damage to their vehicle. I suppose there’s a minor hazard to the public at large from the exhaust system components they litter the highway with, or from their becoming incompacitated when they actually high center on a speed bump, but in general, it takes care of itself when the car owner has to pay towing and repair bills.

That said, I would LOVE to be able to do something about the curb to my driveway, which I have to angle in and out of to avoid scraping, in a car with fairly normal clearance.

I used to drive a 1994 Toyota Corolla. These cars are fairly low to the ground. One night, I was driving down the street, right over a ditch that crossed the street (for utility work). The scraping sound was the edge of the ditch tearing a $3000 hole in the transmission. :frowning:

I called the city to file a claim for the damages (predicated on the fact that the ditch wasn’t marked or blocked off; apparently the utility people thought everyone knew about it.). The idiot city risk manager told me that it wasn’t the CITY’S fault for not marking the ditch. The idiot admitted that the street probably wasn’t marked at all. He told me it was MY fault for driving such a low-riding car. He also had the nerve to suggest that the car had been modified, and that it wasn’t “street legal”. I assured him that was not the case, and that I’d be happy to have someone from the local Toyota dealership explain this to him.

My insurance company paid the claim, but it’s been in subrogation since.


You miss my point. Of course there are reasons for having laws relating to automobile construction, for the very reasons you give. However, when these rules are introduced for specific social control reasons (as they were in the sixties) then they are suspect.

I would be willing to bet that there are SUVs and Trucks that are higher than many jacked vehicles that were criminalised in the sixties, and also that street legal middle of the road Citroens (which hug the ground) have headlights as low as the low riders of that time.

Yep. We’ve got a 2000 Protege. Had a 1995 one before that. I have to use a floor jack to change the oil :mad:


:rolleyes: Yeah, and why bother to soup up the engine? Stock is good enough for anyone! And why work on the stereo? It’s just music! Don’t get me started on paint jobs!

FTR, my car, a 1990 Cavalier Z24, was made with a front airdam low enough that I can’t use a car ramp.


At least when I was in that age, we ‘tricked’ our cars to actually perform. Chrome rims, custom paint jobs, side pipes, big tires, hood pins, and hood scoops accompanied big engines designed and reworked to run fast. We replaced rear ends with positive track, tossed out commercial carburetors for blowers and quadrajets, bored out the cylinders, chromed the engine, put on custom headers, bigger coils, overload springs, air shocks and replaced the distributor cap and wires with heavy duty brands.

Our cars not only looked hot, but were HOT!!

We did not have to baby them through mud puddles, nurse them over bumps in the road or worry that if our girl friends or us gained a pound that the bumper might drag.

Functionality, man, functionality!

Are you sure it was the gearbox they were measuring? Most places I knew of measured the bumpers, with 20" usually being the standard max. Reason being is obvious, so other drivers wouldn’t drive under a tall vehicle. Are you familiar with the gearheads ever mentioning False Bumpers? That’s why. Without serious modification, you can put a truck 8 feet high for pretty cheap, but the gearbox is only going to be basically half as high as your tires. Lowering a vehicle down to the ground, stupid as it looks, Really doesn’t pose a safety problem to anyone. They just can’t go over speedbumps, can’t put anything in the back, etc… (Yes, I agree that low-riders are the biggest waste of a nice vehicle).

At least in Ohio, the laws still exist, at least in reference to how high the front bumper can be off the ground **in a car **. SUV don’t qualify as “cars” under Ohio law, so then can be higher off the ground (although I belive there is a limit to the maximum height they can be off the ground too.)

Generally speaking, you usually won’t get sighted for this unless there is some other problem (like you were in an accident or you were suspected of some other crime and they need an excuse to stop you) or the police officers wife ticked him off earlier.

Ah, so you’ve got the same gripe I do with rice boys. All looks no go. That’s better. I assumed it was just ignorant “I don’t like this” stuff. Sorry.


No problem.

In the late 80’s, just when the ‘tall trucks’ were at their highest, before SUV’s became the toy of the upper middle classes, I saw a radical crash on the highway. A jacked up compact truck had been rearended by a small car, which had gone right under the bumper, up to the windshield. The weight of the truck pushed the car nose down just as it was hit from behind from a compact. That compact went under the now raised bumper of the car part way up the hood.

So there sat three vehicles, looking like something out of a 3 stooges movie! All wedged under each other!

Shortly after that, the news people and others started raising a fuss about tall trucks, even to trying to force through a law requiring them to get drop bumpers which would be on a ‘legal’ level.

Then came the SUV craze and their manufactured height just blew the drop bumper laws all to crap.