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Off-Roading a Vehicle With Independent Front Suspension? Watch This First.

Road & Track logo Road & Track 10/9/2020 Brian Silvestro
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Most modern passenger vehicles have independent front suspension. For driving on the road, it's the obvious choice, providing more stability and a smoother ride for the driver. But when it comes to off-roading, independent suspension has some weaknesses versus a traditional solid axle. Here's what you need to know before taking your independent front suspension-equipped car or truck off-road.

Wyatt Knox, senior instructor at the Team O'Neil Rally School in New Hampshire, put together a comprehensive video showing you what to do. Independent systems are generally less stout than their live-axle siblings, meaning it's easier to damage something if you're not careful. Knox highlights the front CV joints and axles as the most common failure points. He suggests you use as little steering as possible over rough surfaces, so as not to add any stress to the components. Keeping tire and wheel sizes small will also help to mitigate premature wear.

a car parked on pavement near a forest: Independent front suspension can be found on almost all new vehicles. © Trailcraft - YouTube Independent front suspension can be found on almost all new vehicles.

Because the two front wheels aren't connected to one another, your articulation qualities will be different front to rear. Knox suggests playing around with tire pressures to ensure the best contact patches left to right as you travel over uneven surfaces. Another tip? Never tow in reverse. Front differentials used alongside independent suspension are usually weaker than your average front solid axle, so it's possible to mulch a diff while trying to pull your friend out of a ditch going backwards.

Of course, these suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg. Check out the full video above to learn what you need to know about hitting the trails with an independent front axle.

Gallery: 2021 Infiniti Q50 Sensory Edition (motor1)


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