Solid axle front end advantages

Discussion in 'GM Powertrain' started by Michael Johnson, Feb 18, 2011.

  1. 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?
  2. vncj96

    vncj96 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    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.
  3. canislupis69

    canislupis69 Epic Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 5000 Posts

    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.
  4. marko54

    marko54 Rockstar 4 Years 100 Posts

    The only advantage is ease of lifting or installing lift kits.
  5. canislupis69

    canislupis69 Epic Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 5000 Posts

    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.

    DAREDEVIL Rockstar 4 Years 1000 Posts

    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 !
  7. tbplus10

    tbplus10 Epic Member Staff Member 5+ Years 5000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    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. 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.
  9. marko54

    marko54 Rockstar 4 Years 100 Posts

    My 07 suburban 2500 has independent front suspension and is the roughest harsh riding rig i have owned.
  10. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    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.

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