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  1. #1
    Sr. Apprentice
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    Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States
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    Default Solid axle front end advantages

    I have had several people tell me that they prefer the 91 and older suburbans because of the solid front axle but I haven't been able to get a consistent answer as to why they are preferable. Gotten the answer they are stronger but it doesn't make sense that Chevy/GMC would go to a weaker system unless there was a reason. So what is it, what makes the solid front axle something to be desired?
    1991 Chevy Suburban, 190K, 1500 1/2 ton, 5.7L, 3:42 gears, 4X4, stock tire size, stock suspension set up.

  2. #2
    Legend

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    Feb 2008
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    Red Wing, Minnesota, United States
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    Default

    There are pros and cons to both of them, ride, functionality, overall cost for repairs, ease for average shadetree mechanic and ease of lifting. Ford and Dodge stuck with them long after GM switched to IFS in 88 on the trucks and 92 on the SUVs. So why did GM actually switch to IFS so far ahead of Ford and Dodge, and why did the other 2 wait so long to go IFS. I dont think Ford did until 97, (their SD trucks still use solid I believe) and Dodge was even later then Ford.
    99 K1500 Suburban LT "THE BEAST"
    Hypertech III, K&N, true dual
    285/75/16
    ___________________________
    Jason

  3. #3

    Default

    Over the years trucks have become less work vehicles and more grocery getters for soccer moms. The IFS provides a nicer ride on the street.

    Bobby - North Carolina
    2008 4x4 5.3L V8
    6" Suspension Lift and 1.5" Body Lift
    20x9 Ballistic Jesters w/35" Toyo Open Country MT's & 1.5" rear wheel spacers
    4:56 Yukon Gears
    Hypertech Speedometer Calibrator
    Baja style bed mount spare tire carrier
    Flowmaster 40 series dual exhaust
    Recon Smoked LED tails/3rd brake lights/black projectors w/switchback LED's in the corners
    N-Fab Nerf Steps
    K&N CAI
    No Fear Pedals
    Tint, Line-X bedliner, Window visors, Rear wheel well liners
    Painted front grill, bow ties and door badges, de-"lettered" tailgate
    Powder coated front and rear bumpers

  4. #4
    Sr. Engineer marko54's Avatar
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    Sep 2010
    Location
    N.E. wisconsin
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    375

    Default

    The only advantage is ease of lifting or installing lift kits.
    2007 Suburban 2500 Edge evolution CS leveled 265 goodyear Silent Armor Pro Grade Kenwood DNX6180 Nav.Radio





    OH Goody, another Pickem up truck dripping with Chrome Crap!

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by marko54 View Post
    The only advantage is ease of lifting or installing lift kits.
    There is more advantage to solid axles than just ease of lifting. Solid axles are much stronger than IFS setups. This is why you never see a hardcore rock crawler with IFS.

    Bobby - North Carolina
    2008 4x4 5.3L V8
    6" Suspension Lift and 1.5" Body Lift
    20x9 Ballistic Jesters w/35" Toyo Open Country MT's & 1.5" rear wheel spacers
    4:56 Yukon Gears
    Hypertech Speedometer Calibrator
    Baja style bed mount spare tire carrier
    Flowmaster 40 series dual exhaust
    Recon Smoked LED tails/3rd brake lights/black projectors w/switchback LED's in the corners
    N-Fab Nerf Steps
    K&N CAI
    No Fear Pedals
    Tint, Line-X bedliner, Window visors, Rear wheel well liners
    Painted front grill, bow ties and door badges, de-"lettered" tailgate
    Powder coated front and rear bumpers

  6. #6

    Default

    A solid axle keeps the aligment under very hard conditions, IFS wears out if not using stock tires wheels and all that stuff. My Burb has IFS, switching to solid soon...sick and tired of having to replace ball joints , steering parts and align all the time !

    YES, for non work trucks and all day road adventures the IFS is a little nicer ride IF STOCK. As soon as u modify to bigger tires or lifts..this advantage GOES BYE BYE very fast and only headages & costs follow !

    1996 Suburban K3500 SLT DUALLY
    1988 Camaro RS 383 stroker LT1
    1992 32' Aero-tek Race Boat, 600 CI BBC
    WE CAN STICK A DIESEL IN ANYTHING
    SPECIALIZED IN CUSTOM CONVERSIONS OF ANY KIND
    Scott:glasses:

  7. #7

    Default

    If your using the truck off-road for any trails rated 2 or above a solid axle is the best way to go.
    Solid axles suffer less breakage, as you were told they are stronger.
    CV joints will only take so much angle before their out of their operating limits (amount of angle depends on joint manufacturer) and destroy themselves. Even on a stock truck you can easily take the CV out of its operating limits when flexing the suspension, apply a little throttle and the next sound you'll hear is snap crackle pop.
    On lifted trucks IFS half shafts have a tendancy of pulling out when the suspension is stretched out and torque is put on the half shaft.
    Front diff half shaft seals leak and need replacing alot when the trucks used off-road (more often if you run it in the mud).
    Front diff mount points are weaker and stress easier than if the axle was mounted to a set of springs at the ends of the axle where torque can be controlled better.
    When using a locker on an IFS diff the diff tends to torque and either destroy the mount points or explode the gears and CV joints due to the inability to flex.
    When running an open diff on an independant suspension system its harder (due to their better flexibility) to get the opposite wheel to gain traction when the suspension's flexed out.

    Solid axles have issues too but the issues are more acceptable if you use the vehicle for off-roading alot.
    Solid axle trucks cant flex as well as a good IFS (this can be corrected some by using a multi link coil system for the suspension).
    Solid axle trucks dont ride as well as IFS (they can be engineered to ride better with a good set of leaf springs or multi link coils).
    When running in mud or water solid axles tend to have more issues with moisture intrusion due to the end of the hot axle usually being stuck into the cold water or mud, an IFS diff is usually riding above the mud or water.
    Solid axles can suffer warpage on the axle or tube, but this usually takes alot more stress to than it takes to destroy an IFS.

    The reason GM went to a weaker system, money, sales on trucks and SUV's increased in the early 90's when manufacturers began making them ride and drive more like a family car.
    Crew cabs can also be attributed to a large increase in truck sales, now you can have a truck and a 4 door family sedan all in one.

  8. #8
    Sr. Apprentice
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States
    Posts
    45

    Default

    Wow a lot of good info. Thanks everybody. It is a lot stiffer ride than my nephews 2010 but he pretty much only uses it to haul his kids around in.
    1991 Chevy Suburban, 190K, 1500 1/2 ton, 5.7L, 3:42 gears, 4X4, stock tire size, stock suspension set up.

  9. #9
    Sr. Engineer marko54's Avatar
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    N.E. wisconsin
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Johnson View Post
    Wow a lot of good info. Thanks everybody. It is a lot stiffer ride than my nephews 2010 but he pretty much only uses it to haul his kids around in.
    My 07 suburban 2500 has independent front suspension and is the roughest harsh riding rig i have owned.
    2007 Suburban 2500 Edge evolution CS leveled 265 goodyear Silent Armor Pro Grade Kenwood DNX6180 Nav.Radio





    OH Goody, another Pickem up truck dripping with Chrome Crap!

  10. #10
    Legend

    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    River Ridge Louisiana-4 miles W of New Orleans-didn't flood-water stopped 800 yards away.
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    Default

    In general for normal road use and normal hauling use with stock components(no lift no huge tires) and plain dirt road or crummy snowy rutted dirt road use the IFS is better because it gives a nicer ride.

    For abnormal offroad use- rock crawling etc , or lifting the IFS is best since it is less likely to break-.

    The ABSOLUTELY FASTEST off road vehicles are IS front and back- that should tell you something.

    IFS is plenty strong enough for normal use. How many GMs have you EVER seen sitting on the side of an interstate with a broken front end?? ZERO!
    Heck I don't think I've ever seen a FORD Dodge Toyota broken down on a normal road because the IFS broke.

    I have to take that back the Dodge Dakota would regularly break some POS front end part-it might have been a steering part- really dangerous- but it might have been some sort of plastic bushing?? Dodge also had pitiful minivan transmissions, so they don't count.

    Whatever is on there stock will work just fine for normal use and the IFS will have a better ride- in a 1/2 ton anyway. 3/4 ton and 1 tons usually have crummy hard unladen rides- loosen your fillings.
    Charlie
    1998 suburban-
    1/2 ton

    199500 miles
    River
    Ridge,LA

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