Investigating how far a car travels after rolling down a slope

I know that if factors are changed the car will travel a different distance after leaving the ramp.

Background Knowledge

There are many factors that can affect this distance.

1. The weight of the car – this will affect the gravitational potential energy of the vehicle, therefore when the vehicle is released the amount of kinetic energy the car has will differ.

2. Surface area of the wheels on the surface – this will affect the amount of frictional energy produced as the greater the surface the greater the friction and the lesser the distance.

3. The surface texture – this will also affect the frictional forces produced.

4. The slope angle – as this is a factor affecting the amount of gravitational energy produced this will affect the distance the vehicle travels in the same way the first point does.

5. The slope length – this will give the vehicle a longer distance to accelerate therefore it will have greater potential energy to carry it a longer distance.

6. The aerodynamics of the vehicle – the less aerodynamic the vehicle the shorter the distance it will travel.

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As I think the most important factor is the weight of the vehicle I am going to investigate this point. For my preliminary work I am going to investigate the angle of ramp which will directly effect the height of the ramp, to get an appropriate measurement for my main investigation.






Running surface


1. Collect all equipment (as above) and,

2. Set up the ramp and measuring ruler appropriately.

3. Place the car at the top of the ramp and release it.

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4. Measure the distance from the base of the ramp to the rear edge of the car.

5. Record this distance in a results table.

6. Replace the car at the top of the ramp.

7. Carry out the experiment 3 times for each height/weight to gather a reliable set of results.

Preliminary Work:

As I have already stated above I am going to investigate what effect the angle (height) of the ramp will have on the distance that the car travels after it has left the slope.

Here are the results I gathered:

After looking at the results I have decided to put the ramp at the highest angle so I can get a good, accurate and reliable set of results.


To make this experiment safe I will warn people before I release the car so that people will not trip on it.

Fair Test:

To make the experiment fair there are several facts that I must keep the same:

1. I must keep the height of the ramp the same.

2. The surface the car runs on must be the same.

3. The surface area of the car wheels must be the same.

4. The length of the ramp must be kept the same as well.


To make my results as accurate and reliable as possible I will work under as controlled conditions as I can. I will also do every experiment 3 times so I can take a more reliable reading as to account for any anomalous results.


On the basis of this formula:

Gravitational Mass

Potential = of x Gravity x Height

Energy (GPE) car

(J) = (Kg) x (J) x (M)

As the mass of the car get the greater the amount of GPE increases so therefore the car will travel a greater distance.



By doing this experiment I have proved my original hypothesis was wrong. This is because I predicted that the heavier the car the further it would travel. I think this was caused by the greater weight creating a higher frictional force when the vehicle was travelling along the flat surface. This shows that there is an optimum weight for the vehicle to be to get it to travel the greatest distance. By doing this experiment I have found that the optimum weight is approximately 2.5 Kg, as shown on the graph on the previous page.

There were some anomalous results in the measurements that I collected. This could have been because of a couple of factors:

* The measuring equipment I used could have been inaccurate and therefore when I read the distance it could have been wrong.

* Also, as I only used a clamp stand to hold up the ramp this could have slipped under the weight of the car causing the gravitational potential energy to drop as the height had decreased.


After looking at the results I have found that the procedure I used could have been inaccurate and unreliable.

If I were to carry out this experiment again I would change several factors:

* I would use a more substantial ramp so there was no chance of the ramp height changing under the weight of the heavy car. (as this could have been one of the factors that caused the heavier vehicles to go not as far as I predicted)

* I would use better measuring equipment, such as a radar system to measure the exact distance the vehicle travels after it has left the ramp.

* I would carry out the experiment out in more controlled conditions to eliminate as many of the varying factors which could effect the outcome of my results, such as friction and aerodynamics.

After studying the results I have found that the results that I collected are not accurate and reliable enough to gather a firm, scientific conclusion. Even though I carried out the experiments to a high standard there are still improvements that need to be carried out to get a more reliable set of results. These points are stated above.

If I would do the experiments again I would further my investigations by perhaps studying the effect of different surfaces for the vehicle to travel over, also I would do this experiment again to try and confirm that the results that I gathered were correct.

Cite this page

Investigating how far a car travels after rolling down a slope. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

Investigating how far a car travels after rolling down a slope

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