Semi-Floating vs Full Floating Axle (What’s the Difference?)

Last Updated on May 6, 2020

The wheels of any vehicle would not be able to rotate without certain components called axles. There are two possible locations for where these axles could be installed. They are either installed on the body of the vehicle or on the wheels. Either way, they allow the wheels to rotate so that the driver can operate the car properly. The vehicle’s weight is also supported by these axles too, regardless of which type of axle you have in your vehicle.

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Some car manufacturers design their vehicles with full floating axles while others design them with semi-floating axles. The type of vehicle you have has a lot to do with which type of axle you end up with. You will learn more about the difference between these two axle types.

Semi-Floating Axle

If you have a vehicle with four-wheel drive, then it probably has a semi-floating axle in it. But this would have to be a vehicle which is lightweight. For example, a passenger car with the 4-wheel drive will most certainly have a semi-floating axle in it. This axle can only support a certain amount of weight, so a lighter vehicle like a passenger car would be more suitable for it. You might wonder, why not just use a full floating axle anyway? Well, semi-floating axles are also lighter weight too. This means it is easier for the mechanic to install them in a vehicle. As the consumer, this means cheaper labor costs if you ever need to get it replaced.

A semi-floating axle is the type of axle shaft which is attached to the wheels themselves. Differential power is able to get transferred to the wheels because of this. This axle shaft consists of the axle rod and axle housing. The former is what supports the vehicle’s weight and torque. Overall, the semi-floating axle supports less weight than a full floating axle but more than a non-floating axle.

Full Floating Axle

A full floating axle is a lot stronger than a semi-floating axle. It can support more weight for bigger vehicles like pick-up trucks, sports utility vehicles, and other big trucks. If you are someone who regularly attaches extra weight loads to their vehicle and hauls it around, then you will want a full floating axle in your vehicle to support it all. This will ensure that you stay safe on the road.

Now, how is the full floating axle able to support so much more weight? For starters, the axle rod and wheel hub are connected to each other. The wheel is mounted right onto the axle housing instead of the axle rod. The benefit here is that the axle rod receives the torque effect, but it does not bend. This torque is the differential power which goes to the wheels. Most of the vehicle’s weight falls on the assembly instead of the axle shaft. This gives it more strength to support the weight of heavier vehicles like trucks and sports utility vehicles.

Read also: 4 Symptoms of a Bad Clutch Release Bearing in Your Car

Which One to Choose?

The choice between a semi-floating axle and full floating axle will depend on two things; your budget and your vehicle. If you are just a layperson who drives a passenger vehicle to work and you don’t use your vehicle for any commercial purposes, then you’ll definitely want a semi-floating axle. It will be more affordable and ideal for the low weight of a passenger vehicle.

On the other hand, if you are a commercial truck driver or regularly haul a lot of weight in the back of your vehicle, then you’ll want a full floating axle. Even if you drive a carpool in your SUV on a regular basis, you will want a full floating axle. It may cost more money, but it supports more weight. That is the tradeoff here.


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