Off-road vehicles are designed to handle tough terrain. Drivers want their vehicles to perform well, and many off-road enthusiasts customize their ride to maximize efficiency. One such customization is in the configuration of the axles. A typical 4-wheeled off-road vehicle has two axles. These axles are called solid axles, consisting of a solid bar with a wheel on each side. A good example is the Dana 44 front axle. Alternatively, an off-road vehicle may have a multi-axle configuration, with an independent axle for each wheel. There are advantages and disadvantage to having independent front suspensions:
Solid axles are popular for their power and torque. However, the advantages of having multiple axles in your vehicle also make it an attractive option for off-road vehicle customization:
- Smoother Ride: Vehicles with more and independent axles handle bumps well because a bump on one wheel will not affect the opposite wheel. When combined with good truck shocks, a multi-axle vehicle will be a more comfortable drive.
- Improved Handling: The front steering has freer movement with more axles, giving the driver more control.
- More Clearance: Especially when combined with a 4 inch lift kit, independent front suspensions provide higher clearance over technical trails and drivers enjoy avoiding the need to use a Jeep winch for vehicle recovery.
There are many reasons to choose more axles over fewer. Drivers must also weigh the benefits of multi-axle systems with the potential downsides.
Having more axles put on an off-road vehicle will cost more than the standard two axles. Having more axles means more parts to maintain and higher chances of a problem occurring. In addition, the materials used on independent axle parts are less durable than the cast iron used for solid axles.
Between the two alternatives, a solid single axle or multiple independent axles, drivers of off-road vehicles have good options for customizing the type of drive experience they want to have.