Independent Front Suspension - Sell Your Solid Axle!

    The Advantages Of Independent Suspension

    David KennedyPhotographer, WriterCourtesy of General MotorsPhotographer

    Off-road enthusiasts hate independent front suspension (IFS). It's one of the only things we all agree on. Show us a brand-new 4x4 with all the bells and whistles and we'll start plotting a way to rip the finely tuned A-arm suspension out of it and replace it with a solid axle. We don't care that IFS now comes on almost every 4x4 sold in America; we just won't buy late-model 4x4s to wheel.

    But what if IFS had advantages off-road? What if IFS could give you twice the suspension travel you have now, with better steering, and more ground clearance? Well, the truth is, it can! It's just that the auto companies haven't stepped up to the plate with a truly off-road-ready IFS. Instead they've given us weak components that offer mediocre suspension travel and only an inch or 2 of increased ground clearance. Well, all that's got to change. Trust us, we'll do everything we can to keep DaimlerChrysler and Ford building the only three solid-axle 4x4s available in this country. But it's time for the auto companies and the aftermarket to really develop some impressive four-wheel-drive IFS systems that will make us want to sell our solid axles. It can be done, and it's time we start demanding it! Here's the kind of stuff we're talking about.

    Independent Front Suspension BasicsThis illustration of a Hummer H2 front end shows a typical short/long arm (SLA) A-arm independent suspension.

    (A) Upper (short) A-arm (D) Shock
    (also known as a control arm) (E) Bumpstop (or jounce bumper)
    (B) Lower (long) A-arm (F) Differential
    (also known as a control arm) (G) Axleshaft (I) Ball joint
    (C) Torsion-bar spring (H) CV-joint (J) Sway bar
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