Tips for Driving Independent Front Suspension Off Road

Top 10 tips for driving off-road in a vehicle with independent front suspension

Wyatt Knox is known on the Internet as one of the instructors and mad-sideways drivers from Team O’Neill Rally School. His latest video with Trail Craft discusses 10 tips for driving off-road with an Independent Front Suspension (IFS) vehicle.

Most modern SUVs now have independent front suspensions. Even the new Bronco has an IFS. This is a discussion that is polarizing in the off-road world. I own an 80-series Land Cruiser with its solid front axle and full-float rear axle. I also own a 2008 Toyota Sequoia with its independent front suspension. Routinely I get involved in conversations about the difference between the two types of front ends. The solid front axle is the more stout option. That is the gospel, and it isn’t wrong. An IFS is a more comfortable ride with better on-road manners. It will work well off-road but does have more weak points than the solid axle.

Wyatt points out many of the IFS weak points in his video.

That’s solid advice. I am looking to sell my solid axle Land Cruiser. Not because of Wyatt’s video, but because the type of off-road driving I like to do does not happen as often as I would like, and the Sequoia with its IFS will get our trips accomplished. Maybe I’m just getting older, but the Land Cruiser’s ride is harsh compared to the Sequoia.

One place where you might run into an issue with Wyatt’s advice about trying to keep the wheels straight for navigating obstacles is on tight roads in the mountains. Especially if there is a drop off on one side, that being said, all of Wyatt’s tips are guidelines and not rules. Each situation will present a problem, and being a critical thinker will help you navigate through the obstacles. If you can’t keep the wheels straight, try to limit your steering angle as much as possible. Everything is about balance and trying to limit the stress to the IFS.

Wyatt is pretty firm about not adding a locking differential upfront unless you will also upgrade axle shafts and hubs. I fully agree with this. If you have issues with spinning wheels, adjust the air pressure, and use traction boards or a winch. A locking diff upfront will shred stock parts everywhere else along the front driveline.

This series of videos from Wyatt and Team O’Neill look like they’re going to be a good resource of off-road information.

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