Suspension Durability


Junior Member
I've been abusing my '96 half-ton 4x4 by driving fast on really rough trails (unloaded). How much can this truck take? I'm especially concerned about the front suspension--it takes most of the impact when I hit a bump, but I've always heard that the leaf spring suspension (like on the rear) is more durable.

Are there incidences of failure of the front suspension on these trucks? I'm particularly worried about the torsion bars.

Or am I just worried about nothing? Will this truck absorb all the punishment I can give it?


Senior Member
bottoming out

have you ever bottomed out the truck. This is an indicator that what you are doing is more than the shocks and the truck should handle. Basically all you can do is toughen your suspension up. I don't think the running gear has anything to do with hitting bumps. It has more to do with putting on big tires and hill climbing. Still, I don't think your truck can handle the abuse you might be putting it through for very long. You might snap something if you don't be careful.


Junior Member
I don't think I've ever bottomed it out. (But the time I put over a ton of concrete in the back of the 1/2 ton, I drove real gently!)

When I said I was driving fast, I meant 20-25 mph. I slow down (or at least try to) before hitting bigger potholes. This is also done for maybe five minutes two or three times a week.

I guess my concern was generated from a co-worker who said that the independent front suspension of the Chevy 4x4s wasn't as durable as the solid axles of the Fords and Dodges. Is there much truth in that?

I don't want to beef up my suspension, if it doesn't need it. I certainly don't want to put bigger tires on and raise it up. Maybe if the shocks need to be replaced at some point in the future, I'll use stiffer ones...

I had said I was concerned about the torsion springs (particularly fatigue). Thinking a little more about it now, I suppose the bigger impacts are absorbed more by the shocks than the springs, aren't they? So I shouldn't be too worried about the torsion springs.


2000 Club Member
The torsion bars will be fine, the quality of metal that goes into them is very high. The wear items will be ball joints, shocks and sterring components. An a arm would also fail before the torsion bars will. Also the a arm bushings will see alot of wear as well. At rebuild time replce with poly u thane bushings and that will take the abuse very well.

John DiMartino Veteran
Like Dino said-the wear willl be higher on front end parts,but you shouldnt have any other problems-the IFS isnt as weak as a lot of people think it is,I dont like it for plowing as much as a solid axle,but its plenty strong,and can take quite a beating.IFS is a good compromise for almost all of the people who buy them,I would grease it often,and check your air filter often if the roads are dusty.

75 Addict
Here's my opinion:

Driving your truck the way you describe will cause the front end parts that Dino listed to wear faster, but as long as you keep up on maintenance (greasing & replacing parts as necessary) I don't think you're in danger of having the front end "fall out" :eek: on you.

I feel that a solid front axle on leaf springs IS stronger than the IFS but as John pointed out, IFS isn't as bad as some people say it is. As well, IFS gives you better ride & handling. I agree it's a fairly decent compromise for most people.

BTW, on the Chevy trucks from '73 to '87 the solid front axle on 1/2 and 3/4 ton trucks came with balljoints, while the axle used in the 1-tons was equipped with kingpins - even stronger!


Senior Member
Lafayette, LA

Notice teh third word that you mentioned. Now why do it that bad if you know its bad? Its a chevy though clean up and lube up everything frequently and you should be alright...IFS isnt that bad just expensive to fix :(

Alan Addict
Originally posted by 75

BTW, on the Chevy trucks from '73 to '87 the solid front axle on 1/2 and 3/4 ton trucks came with balljoints, while the axle used in the 1-tons was equipped with kingpins - even stronger!


I've never been into a 1 ton front driving axle. How did they have a kingpin? Wouldn't the axle shaft have to go thorught he same space a kingpin would occupy? I know on the Dana 44, and copies of it (GM corporate), what is termed "ball joints" are more of an "interrupted kingpin", allowing movement only in one plane as opposed to the true ball joint allowing motion in two planes. The turning parts are cylindrical rather than spherical, just like a kinpin would be if you took the center out. I know there Dana 60 had what ws (I think) referred to as a "closed trunnion", where there was a spherical housing that surrounded the axle u-joint. Is that the configuration you refer to and how does it differ in it's assembly from the open trunnion style of the 44?

75 Addict
Hi Alan - it's a little difficult to describe without the pictures, but I looked in a GM service manual for light trucks ('77 model year) and that's what they stated: C-10/C-20 with ball joints, C-30 with king pins.

On the C-30 axle, it shows a separate king pin for top & bottom allowing the axle shaft to pass through.

The cutaway diagrams showing a section thru the axle show spherical ends (ball joints) on the 1/2 & 3/4 ton axle, while the diagram for the 1-ton axle shows cylindrical ends (king pins).

Both are still open-trunnion design - I haven't seen one of the closed-trunnion units you describe on a truck, although I have seen that style on forklifts and other equipment.

Sorry no pictures - that would eliminate confusion!

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