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The Advantages of Independent Rear Suspension

  • person Julian Brown
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The Advantages of Independent Rear Suspension

Independent rear suspension (IRS) offers an effortless ride across various road surfaces. While complex and costly to construct, this system provides positive handling with comfortable ride characteristics.

Solid axles remain popular choices among trucks and vans due to their ruggedness, durability, simplicity and cargo-carrying capacity. Live axles allow the wheels to lift off the ground when driving over bumps in the road; by contrast, solid axles don't.

Coil Springs

Coil springs are an integral component of many independent rear suspension systems, providing shock absorption while simultaneously maintaining low ride height for stability when driving over rough road surfaces. They're typically installed into a subframe known as a cradle attached to the unibody; any movement within this cradle could alter thrust angles and toe settings significantly, impacting how wheels track pavement when cornering.

Coil springs typically come equipped with adjustable rates that can be tailored to suit a vehicle's weight and drivetrain specifications, while thickness is also an important consideration when selecting one; thicker springs are better able to manage larger loads without becoming compressed too rapidly.

Compression springs are the most prevalent type of coil spring. When pressure is applied to one, it compresses, but returns back to its original position once removed from a force source. Other coil spring types include torsion and extension springs which twist when an external force is applied before returning back to their original positions and retract back under pressure before retracting back again into their original lengths.

Thick springs offer various ride height options. Thicker coil springs tend to be better at resisting damage and corrosion compared to thinner springs, making them suitable for high-performance vehicles that will experience rough driving conditions, such as off-roading.

Independent rear suspension systems provide many benefits to your vehicle, but improperly maintained systems may present certain challenges. One such issue is wheel hop, which negatively affects straight line driving traction. Wheel hop occurs when torque applied during acceleration causes contact between wheels and pavement to break down and then return, creating a bouncing sensation which causes tires to gain and lose traction repeatedly during straight driving.

Reducing wheel hop is easily done by regularly replacing coil springs. Kilen offers OEM-style replacement springs specifically tailored to meet the exact specifications of your vehicle and provide optimal performance and seamless fitment.

Solid Axles

Solid axles offer advantages in terms of simplicity, cost and power handling compared to independent suspension. Furthermore, solid axles may allow greater articulation for off-roading purposes than their independent counterparts - but these don't come without some drawbacks either.

One of the primary disadvantages is compromised ride quality. When one wheel encounters an uneven terrain bump, its effect can spread through to all four wheels and create an unpleasant ride experience. Furthermore, rigid axles tend to restrict precise handling on windy roads - particularly noticeable among older vehicles equipped with solid rear axles.

Solid axles can make for excellent off-road vehicles if their manufacturer has engineered them carefully; as this ensures they can withstand both high and low speeds on technical terrain as well as forces applied during acceleration/braking.

Solid axle systems typically utilize either a cast iron center section (Dana or Toyota-style) or stamped steel housing equipped with dropout third member and forged knuckle for strength. This makes these axles relatively flex-resistant while remaining strong enough to cope with rocks, off-road obstacles and U-joint failure compared to IFS U-joints.

Solid axles offer another advantage on technical terrain: they're less likely to cause tires to fly off into the air due to obstacles; when an obstacle is met with, its weight shifts back through its shocks and springs before coming back down onto that side's shock absorbers and springs; during this process traction may be lost on tires that were once gripping the ground but no longer do so as quickly.

Solid axles make for excellent off-road driving vehicles, yet they may present unique issues when driven on difficult surfaces at high speed. One such issue is wheel hop, or bouncing caused when differential and cradle components attempt to reconnect after stopping; this movement is caused by bushing deflection which results in wheel loss of traction which then leads to wheel hop. Ultimately this causes wheels to lose grip repeatedly until they become airborne and get stuck there for good.

Four Link Systems

A four-link system employs two upper and two lower links to center the axle, provide controlled suspension movement, and ensure superior ride quality and off-road handling. It is the gold standard for independent rear suspension systems and offers superior ride quality and off-road handling, accommodating more aggressive tire sizes as well as axle lifts.

Keep the lengths of your upper and lower links in mind when choosing a four-link system, because they determine how much the axle pushes the chassis, how the car lifts or squats under acceleration and how much wheel articulation exists when traversing rough terrain. How much you wish your car does these things depends entirely upon your intended driving type.

As a rule of thumb, longer upper and lower links tend to produce greater axle push and lift effects while shorter ones have less of an effect due to leverage action of these links on frame and axle components; one link tries to pick up chassis while another pushes it down; these forces cancel each other out over time.

Long-travel four-link kits feature plenty of adjustability. For instance, you can fine-tune how much the chassis lifts or squats by moving the upper link's frame mounts up or down from their mounting points on the chassis; similarly, moving their lower link's frame mount up or down from its mount on the axle allows you to change how much pushing force comes from that axle as well as how much wheel articulation there is.

Detroit Speed and Engineering offers complete Ford 9-inch or GM 12-bolt four-link suspension kits including both Panhard bars and Koni aluminum shocks for $2,195 to make this combination work seamlessly.

This suspension upgrade is perfect for street cars or racecars alike. The kit is tailored to work with various rear-wheel drive makes and models, including popular ones like the GM A-body Chevelle and Ford Fox platform (1979-2004 Mustang). High-durometer rubber bushings help to minimize noise while various spring rates provide options that meet individual driving styles or performance goals.


An independent rear suspension vehicle is less prone to camber settings that cause one wheel to lose contact with the ground and reduce driving power, providing a smoother ride over bumps or uneven road surfaces.

However, this has its drawbacks; rear wheels will no longer be as free to move up and down independently from each other, potentially increasing rear end shake and making passengers uncomfortable.

Another difficulty of complex systems is their increased complexity, making them more vulnerable to mechanical issues. One worn-out component could affect all parts of the system and may require frequent replacement - something which can prove costly, time consuming, and result in reduced performance.

Drag racers tend to prefer solid axle setups as these allow for the rear tires to better grip the pavement during power-down acceleration. A solid axle transfers more power directly to its rear tires than an IRS system can, creating more forward momentum for faster launch times and acceleration.

While solid axles offer several distinct advantages in drag racing applications, independent rear suspension can offer various benefits as well. For example, their ability to adapt independently to road conditions increases handling and traction during cornering - all which help improve handling performance and overall speed.

Drag racers looking to improve the performance of their car should opt for an independent rear suspension with high performance capabilities. While more expensive than standard setups, this approach will give more agility and precision when turning wheels compared with traditional solutions.