The best suspension is necessary for the safest off-road performance and the best driving experience in an overland vehicle. Among numerous options that have been competing for years, the IFS and solid axle are the two best.
Both axles have pros and cons. In fact, the performance of both axles is determined by your requirements; both axles can perform well in specific situations. The IFS is ideal for overland racing, and the robust axle can carry and tow heavy loads.
Demands From the Suspensions
Before comparing the IFS and Solid axle, let us first grasp what people want from their overland vehicle’s suspension; this will help us understand which suspension is best in your scenario.
- Additional ground clearance is required, and suspension should provide it.
- Suspension should be able to handle a variety of driving styles and terrains.
- Articulacy with the terrains is one important factor.
- The best traction is always needed to overcome the obstacles.
- Should be able to carry and tow heavy loads off-road.
- Can perform in overland racing.
IFS VS Solid Axle In Overlanding
According to user forums and discussions, the solid axle tends to be preferred on IFS, although the IFS also outperforms the solid axle in some instances. Let’s explore what IFS and Solid Axle have to offer us.
Independent front suspension (IFS), as the name implies, allows both wheels to operate or move independently. As a result, if an obstacle is encountered, just the wheel on the side of the obstacle will move up and down. It shows that IFS provides smooth obstacle handling; you can swiftly transfer steering input into the wheels via IFS.
The IFS comprises many components that are fitted together in the vehicle to complete the axle activities. All of the pieces, such as control arms, tie rods, CVs, and so on, make the IFS complicated. IFS is a newer technology than the solid axle. It’s also known as wishbone suspension because of the vibe it gives.
Where IFS Outperforms the Solid Axle?
When you drive over an obstacle, the IFS will only raise the wheel on the side of the obstacle, while the solid axle will impact the entire car, and passengers in other seats will feel the shaking as well. In the case of IFS, the people in the opposite seats will not experience much motion. For me, it makes the IFS most comfortable from both of these axles, and I assure you will also feel the same.
The wheel alignment of IFS is far better than solid axles because there is more gap for modifications. The IFS provides many adjustment capabilities because it has more moveable parts.
The moving parts also make it possible to easily knock out the wheel alignment, while in the sold axle, it is complex and rare. Also, the solid axle doesn’t have many moving parts, making them stiff; this stiffness will interrupt a good wheel alignment.
If you are an overlander, you will enjoy modifying your vehicle as much as I do. If I want to alter the wheel alignment, I’ll go with IFS.
The solid axle does not perform well at high speeds, but the IFS performs better in high-speed and severe situations. As aforementioned in comfort, only one wheel moves in the IFS when you go through an obstacle; thus, most of the time, you don’t need to slow down while you are at speed. The entire vehicle reacts to obstacles in the sold axle, which is not suitable at high speeds because you must slow down on bumps and path-holes. So if you are in off-road racing like jeep rally etc., go with the IFS.
Because solid axles are outdated technology, they are unsuitable for off-road use. In the case of IFS, it gives significantly improved handling on smooth highways and during overland operations. Doesn’t matter if you are a new off-road driver or an experienced IFS will provide you with the handling you want.
One of the essential aspects of overland activity is ground clearance. The axles in the live axle system hang very low, resulting in insufficient ground clearance; on the other hand, the IFS provides adequate ground clearance. If you wish to install large tires, the solid axle provides greater capacity for wheel travel. So if you want to perform well in off-road activities, select IFS; it provides excellent ground clearance.
Lightweight improves the vehicle’s fuel efficiency. The solid axle arrangement is heavy and has fewer movable parts; the vehicle’s high weight and continuous change in speed would undoubtedly reduce fuel efficiency. If you want to save fuel money, IFS is the best choice because the IFS is the lightest of the axles, and all the moveable parts make the vehicle run smoothly.
The Final Statement On IFS
The IFS provides the most comfortable environment. The driver has more vehicle handling on smooth highways and overland activities, fuel economy may save money, and there is no better choice for off-road racing than IFS.
The IFS, on the other hand, is more costly than the solid axle. The IFS is not robust enough to handle oversized loads and has limited flexibility in overland tasks. The IFS has weaker differential centres and a complicated structure, making it difficult to customize or repair.
Go for the IFS if you are in off-road racing; it performs best in overland racing; you can also use IFS if you want a comfortable ride in both off and on-road. Don’t go with IFS if you use your vehicle as a load carrier and tower.
The solid axle, you can also call it the live axle or beam axle, is a kind of suspension that can be found on many classic off-road vehicles, jeeps, and cars. The solid axle is an older design. Although it is more common than the IFS, In comparison to the IFS, the solid axle has fewer moving components. The solid axle is a single solid beam with wheels on both ends.
When I am driving my vehicle with sold axle, if an obstacle gets in the way, this structure creates a reaction in the entire vehicle; if one wheel goes up due to a bump or other barrier, the other will go down, and similar in vice versa.
So if you are sitting on the right side and feels a movement when an obstacle comes on the left side, that means you are sitting in a solid axle vehicle
Where Solid Axle Outperforms the IFS?
As an off-roader, I love to customize my vehicle; with a solid axle, I have a lot of room for modification; I can even elevate the vehicle to fit larger tires. These modifications are entirely dependent on the suspension setup you’re utilizing. In terms of customization, the solid axle is a clear winner.
On the other hand, Independent Front Suspension has weaker CVs that are not appropriate for larger tires, and it also cannot support large rotating tires. But I can fit large rotating tires into the solid axle system. The solid axle has a gape that allows the car to be lifted 12 inches.
If similar customization possibilities exist in IFS, they will be incredibly expensive. So if you also love the customization, there is no better choice than a solid axle.
In comparison to IFS, the solid axle is much easier to repair because it has fewer components. Every component of the solid axle is easily accessible. While repairing the solid axle, there are plenty of areas to work with tools.
The IFS system, on the other hand, has a complicated structure with many parts that require professional maintenance or modification. So if you want to work on your vehicle by yourself, solid-axle is the best choice.
The solid axle is more durable and has greater strength than the IFS since it has additional components that make it weaker. Some of the IFS elements are extremely small, making the system complicated, whereas a solid axle has a simple structure with high strength.
You can punish the solid axle system because it can withstand it, but if you punish the IFS, it will respond differently. If you’re carrying large items or travelling over rugged terrain, a solid axle is a way to go. The IFS is physically attached to the chassis.
Simultaneously, because the solid axle is not directly attached to your overland vehicle, any impact on the solid axle will not influence the chassis. The IFS, on the other hand, will have a direct impact on the chassis.
Unsprung Weight and Differential Centers
The solid axle has greater unsprung mass than the IFS, resulting in superior overland traction. Because you require less traction while passing over obstacles, the considerable unsprung weight is not always ideal.
In comparison to the IFS system, the solid axle differential features larger differential centres that are also more robust; the solid axle differential can handle larger tires more effectively. That is the one best thing for me from the solid axle system; I can install the tires I want.
If you transport a heavy load frequently, the live or solid axle is the ideal option; because of its strength and endurance, the solid axle beats IFS in carrying heavy loads. The solid axle has a robust design that allows it to pull and handle massive weights with exceptional performance.
The IFS can also bear weights, although it is weak and will collapse if the weight exceeds the limit. You must exercise extreme caution when transporting loads on IFS.
When it comes to transporting or towing big weights, the solid axle is the clear victor. I will not use IFS pull or carry the weights; solid axle vehicles are the best choice.
The Final Statement On Solid Axle
The solid axle has greater flex in overland operations and a simple system. The solid axle is sturdy and durable, and it can withstand damage; nevertheless, in terms of customization, the solid axle has more gape and is simple to customize.
The solid axle has stronger CVs and is intended for hauling and towing heavy loads. I will not choose any other axle except a solid axle if I am a heavy loader.
The solid axle, on the other hand, has a low ground clearance. The solid axle is unsuitable for quick overland travel. It is not more comfortable than the IFS, and the solid axle provides poor handling. If you are looking for comfort, the solid axle is not for you.
There has been much debate over the years about which suspension is superior between IFS and Solid axles. The IFS is a new technology, but the solid axle is an old one.
If you are interested in Overland racing, the IFS is the ideal choice for you; the IFS is the greatest choice for racing since it is outstanding at handling, efficient in fuel consumption, and the most comfortable.
The solid axle is ideal for towing and lifting big loads. It features a strong construction that can withstand the hardships of overland operations while still carrying heavy loads. It has more powerful CVs and improved off-road flex.
There are more options for customization in a solid axle system. So if you are in lifting or towing heavy loads or love to customize your vehicle go with the solid axle system.