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Leaf Springs Technical - Don't Leave Leaves

Posted in How To: Suspension Brakes on July 1, 2006
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Photographers: Harry WagnerThe 4-Wheel & Off-Road Archives

Everywhere we look these days people are spending big bucks to pull the leaf springs out from under their 4x4s and swap in some high-dollar coilovers, airbags, or air shocks. But don't feel like you have to go into debt and follow this expensive trend. Leaf springs are probably the most simplistic and inexpensive suspension system for your 4x4, but even so, there are still numerous options for how to configure these packs of spring steel to perform under your vehicle.

Most new leaf-sprung 4x4s come with their leaves on top of the axletubes, but over the years they could be found over or under or a combination of the two. So which setup is best for your type of four-wheeling? And is it really as cheap and easy as everyone claims to swap the springs from under to over the axles?

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Verdict?
* Spring-under
* Lower center of gravity than spring-over 4x4 of equal lift
* Stiffer ride and less flex than spring-over
* Counters axlewrap

Spring-over
* Slightly higher center of gravity than spring-under 4x4 of equal lift
* Allows more flexible flatter springs for equal lift
* Can require some antiwrap bar
* Can interfere with steering
* Can require axle to be modified for proper caster
* Can require new driveshafts
* Swapping to spring-over can be more complicated than off-the-shelf bolt-on spring-under lift, but can also be cheaper if done by a qualified home fabricator

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