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

Last Updated on April 14, 2021

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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Most car manufacturers design their vehicles with semi-floating axles while others use heavy duty full-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.

See Also: Are Wheel Spacers Safe?

axle comparison

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 four-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.

semi-float axle

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 heavy duty pickup trucks, sports utility vehicles, and other large trucks. If you are someone who does regular heavy weight hauling or towing, then you will likely want a full floating axle in your vehicle to support it all. This will ensure that you stay safe on the road.

full float axle

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.

Related: Differential Fluid Change Interval and Cost

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 someone who drives a vehicle to work and you don’t use it for any heavy duty purposes, then a semi-floating axle is just fine. You would not gain much benefit for the cost to convert to a full-float axle.

On the other hand, if you regularly haul a lot of weight in the back of (or behind) your vehicle or are involved in off-roading, then you’ll want a full floating axle. It may cost more money, but it’s more durable and supports more weight. That is the tradeoff here.

Mark Stevens
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2 thoughts on “Semi-Floating vs Full Floating Axle (What’s the Difference?)”

  1. My girlfriend bought a accord 02,the
    car needed repaired.pressure plate clutch throw out bearing, the flywheel looked good,, press p.bad, cutch new, throwout b. wasted she drove after 2 days boom, I’ve taken out bad parts, new cutch kit p,p._ bearing, it went all in
    There’s no drive to the engine, I turn the axle they spin but bo engine no compression did I put it back wrong wtf or Trans broken ? Terry


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