If you’ve looked into some of the big differences in vehicles, you may have come across the term “full floating axle”. But without further research, it’s hard to know what exactly that is, or why it’s beneficial to have one.
For that reason, we’re going to tell you exactly that: what a full floating axle is and how it differentiates from other axles, and the benefits it offers.
What is a Full Floating Axle?
You probably already know that the axle is the mechanism that the wheels of a vehicle are connected. It allows the wheels to rotate properly.
The two types of axles are semi-floating axles and full floating axles. Most four-wheel drive vehicles have semi-floating axles. Vehicles designed to lift and carry heavy loads usually have full floating axles.
The difference is that a full floating axle does not carry the weight of the actual vehicle. Instead, it only transmits the differential rotational power to the wheels. With a full floater axle, there’s a housing on the outermost area with an integrated spindle. The hub cap is on this spindle and uses roller bearings to ride.
Basically, the hub cap carries the extra weight in this setup, which is what allows a full floating axle to carry more weight than a semi-floater axle.
The primary benefits of a full floating axle are the increased load capacity, extra safety, and the capability to upgrade to it from a semi floater setup.
Read also >> What Is a Full Floating Axle? (All You Need To Know)
1. Weight Capacity
As mentioned previously, the primary benefit offered by a full floating axle is the increased weight capacity it offers.
The more stable and secure support structure provided by having the wheels attach to the hub caps instead of the axle itself gives a vehicle far higher capacity.
This means a floating axle is very useful for pickup trucks and SUVs, especially if you plan to put significant loads on those vehicles with relative frequency.
Of course, the exact capacity increase will vary based on many factors, but at the end of the day, a vehicle with such an axle will undoubtedly be able to carry more.
Long story short, if you took of the exact same car, but one was fitted with a semi floating axle and one had a full floating axle, the latter would be able to drive safely with more weight.
While this concern is a minor one, full floating axles are safer than semi-floating axles in the case of a car crash.
With a semi, if the axle broke for some reason, there is a very real chance for the wheel to come off, which could result in an incredibly severe accident. With a full floating axle, the chances of this happening are very low.
With a full floating axle, the wheels are not attached to the axle, but rather, the hubs. So even if the axle gets damaged or outright breaks, the wheels are in no real danger of going anywhere. This would make any vehicle safer theoretically, but for vehicles bearing heavy loads, it greatly reduces the risk of a major accident.
This is not to say that the axle can’t break, but unlike with a semi floating axle, if it does break, you don’t have to worry about the wheels potentially flying off.
It would still be a pretty bad accident, but nowhere near as bad as losing an entire wheel at speed.
3. Conversion to a Full Floating Axle
Another benefit of a full floating axle is that it is quite easy to convert a semi floating axle into it. You can upgrade from the semi to the full floating with an aftermarket kit with relative ease.
However, the differential assembly of your vehicle cannot be changed, so that has to be strong enough for such a conversion in the first place.
Still, many vehicles are capable of undergoing this conversion, and the fact that it is so easy to get a full floating axle if you want it is a point in its favor.
That said, this doesn’t mean every single car out there can do it. It’s just something many vehicles can potentially do.
4. Allowance For Larger Tires
By merit of their purpose, full floating axles are larger than normal axle shafts. With a full floating hub, you can have up to a 1.75 inch axle, or 40-spline.
Basically, you can mount bigger tires on these axles, which is generally a good idea for heavy duty vehicles that will often be hauling large loads.
5. Functionality Even Without an Axle
Another important benefit of a full floating axle is the fact that you can remove a broken shaft yet still have a functional rolling tire on the corner of the vehicle where you do this.
Remember that the wheel bolts to the hub, which rides on a spindle, which attaches to the axle housing. That’s why the wheel can still turn without the axle.
Of course, that’s not much good for actually driving the vehicle, but it does still have its uses. If the axle has manual locking hubs, for instance, then you could unlock the rear hubs and tow the vehicle in question.
Even with the axle being broken, the wheels would still turn, so towing that vehicle would be a simple matter.
This is a benefit that may not come up all that often, but it is a nifty bonus to having a full floating axle on a vehicle.
Needless to say, this is something that cannot be done with a semi floating axle, so it is of unique value.
A full floating axle is not something that every car needs. You don’t need it to commute or go about normal business.
But this type of axle increases weight capacity significantly and adds extra utility to a vehicle. Because of this, it is of great value for any vehicle that will be doing a lot of heavy lifting and cargo hauling.