What Is a Full Floating Axle? (All You Need To Know)

What Is a Full Floating Axle

Do you know what a full floating axle is? Well, you are at the perfect place to find the answer to such a question.

Hopefully, you will know that the component that your vehicle’s tires rotate on is known as an axle. However, it is unlikely that you will know that there are multiple different types of axles out there.

Well, assuming you are not a mechanic or car expert.

On this page, we are going to look at something known as the full-floating axle, one of the more common axle types of vehicles nowadays. 

What Is a Full-Floating Axle?

Most modern vehicles have something known as a semi-floating axle, which is essentially the opposite of a full-floating axle.

As we will discuss later on, full-floating axles are used on vehicles that are on the heavier side, or when they are going to be put under a bit of pressure.

However, more on that soon. For now, we have to discuss what a full-floating axle actually is.

In a vehicle, you have a component known as the half shaft. It is the half shaft that transmits movement to the vehicle’s wheels (yes, we are keeping things simple here).

In a semi-floating axle vehicle, the weight of the vehicle is going to be on the axles of the car, especially around the half shafts.

This is OK in most situations but, when you have a heavier vehicle, it does put a lot of pressure on the half shafts, which can cause them to break prematurely.

As we said, a full-floating axle system is different than this. In a full-floating axle system, there will be a casing around the axles.

The axles are essentially ‘floating’ in this casing (not like that, they aren’t magic!). This means that the pressure of the vehicle is going to be on the axle casing, rather than the axles themselves.

Yes. This is a very simplified discussion as to what a full-floating axle actually is. However, you really don’t need to know all that much more.

We will go through the pros and cons which should give you more of an idea as to why vehicles do or do not include full-floating axles but, honestly, unless you are getting into serious car maintenance, your driving experience is not going to be all that much different whether you have a semi-floating axle or a full-floating axle. 

What is a full-float axle? What is a semi-float axle? >> Check out the video below:

The Benefits of a Full Floating Axle

If you have a semi-floating axle, it is perhaps worth noting that you are not stuck with it.

While there may be very few reasons one would need to upgrade to a full-floating axle (outside of vehicle weight), you can make an upgrade.

There are upgrade kits out there, and you can easily get them installed by a garage that may be an expert in the type of vehicle that you own.

If you have a full-floating axle on your vehicle, it does tend to be a lot safer too. This is especially apparent if you are carrying heavy loads. Now, obviously, the risk of a vehicle axle breaking is pretty low on most vehicles.

Read also >> 5 Benefits of a Full Floating Axle (All You Need To Know)

However, the risk is still there. If you carry heavier weights than what your vehicle has been designed for, then you will be surprised at how high the risk of your axle giving way is.

We have probably all heard the horror stories of overloaded vehicles just giving way on the road.

Since you are essentially losing your wheels when you do this, you don’t really have time to slow down or react either. One would hope that you do not have a huge number of vehicles traveling around you if that happens!

A full-floating axle tends to be used on vehicles that carry heavier weights. You are almost certainly going to see trucks and buses with full-floating axles installed.

However, we have even seen them installed in SUVs. Basically, if a vehicle is on the heavier side of things, then it is much more likely to use a full-floating axle set-up.

If you are carrying around heavy loads fairly often, then it may be worth investing in a full-floating axle system if your vehicle doesn’t have one.

There will be a lot less maintenance required. After all, you are not going to have to be forever checking that the axle system is working properly, and you do not have to deal with bends in the axle system.

Yes. It is going to cost you a bit of money to convert your vehicle to a full-floating axle system, but that is going to be a whole lot cheaper than replacing your vehicle, right?

The Cons Of a Full Floating Axle

The major downside of a full floating axle is that they do tend to be much more expensive.

Even if you install the system yourself (we really do not recommend that you do this), you are going to be paying a hefty chunk of change for that upgrade.

In addition to this, a full-floating axle tends to be quite heavy too. This means that you are not going to be getting a great fuel economy. However, that being said, you would tend to have these axles installed on heavier vehicles that don’t get great fuel economy anyway.

We can’t imagine that there are many people out there picking up a heavier truck or SUV and seriously thinking about the fuel economy because it always tends to be on the poorer side when it comes to heavy vehicles anyway. 


A full-floating axle is an enclosed axle system. Unlike semi-floating axle systems, a full floating axle only has to worry about driving the wheels.

It does not have to support the weight of the vehicle. The enclosure around the axle system will be doing that instead.

This means that vehicles with a full-floating axle system not only tend to last longer (the axles are often rated to well over 1,000,000 miles) but can also carry heavier loads.

You can convert a semi-floating axle system to a full-floating system, but do bear in mind that it may not be required in most situations. 



Steve P.

Steve is an automotive technician, technical writer, and Managing Editor. He has held a lifelong passion for cars, with a particular interest in cars like the Buick Riviera. Steve is based in Boise, Idaho.

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