SFA vs IFS

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pietpetoors
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Is there a big difference between a SFA and IFS Hilux?
For those who do not know yet, SFA stands for Solid Front Axle and IFS stands for Independant Front Suspension.
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Hi Piet,

Well, the IFS definitely gives a smoother ride on tar, but off-road on a rough trail is where the SFA is so impressive!

Imagine an axle-twister, where you are climbing over rocks at a crawl, when, for example, the left front wheel lifts. On a SFA you will notice that there is now a resultant down-pressure on the right front wheel, which is useful for getting you over the obstacle. This doesn't happen with an IFS in which the left wheel would lift with no resultant down-pressure on the opposite wheel.

Or am I talking garbage here... I can't seem to put into words what my head is telling me...

:roll:

-F_D
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pietpetoors
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I understand exactly what you say.
That means that the other wheel will be pushed against the ground more firmly.

I have seen that one thing a IFS do not like it is a axle twister on a steep uphill. On a level road it is fine, but if you go up and add an axle twister, you have problems with a IFS.
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That's it; the opposite wheel in a SFA will always have greater downforce than its counterpart in an IFS suspension, which leads to greater traction.

-F_D
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I traded my 2.2 SFA Hilux 2 months ago for a 2.7 IFS model. The 2.2 was fitted with 32" Coopers , 30mm wheel spacers, Lockrite locker in the front axle, Pro Comp suspension (4" lift) in front and OME with extended shacles in the rear.

The 2.7 is fitted with 31" tyres, Irion Man suspension an rear Gearmax diff lock.

I expected to struggle a lot with the IFS off-road, but I am really surprised with the vehicle's abilities.

You guys are correct: the SFA is much more capable in axle twisters, but that's when the diff lock comes in handy....

On tar there is no comparison, the 2.7 wins hands down, I even manage to get slightly better feul consumption (7.5 - 8.2 Km/l @ 110 - 115km/h)
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On tar there is no comparison, the 2.7 wins hands down, I even manage to get slightly better feul consumption (7.5 - 8.2 Km/l @ 110 - 115km/h)
This is so true - the 2.7i drives like a limousine on tar.

I also have the OME version on my 2.7i, and the vehicle has about 50mm lift over a standard 2.7, and in itself is certainly very capable, on road or off-road.

The fuel consumption I get with my 2.7i tallies in with your figures, the 4Y was much heavier on petrol. I have just this week fitted a Weber to the 4Y, so we will see if that improves, I used to get 5.5-.6km/l with the standard carb on the 4Y.

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White Fang: 1999 2.7i DC Raider 4x4
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Willem Grobler
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Maybe a bit off topic but the fitment of a proper suspention also makes a huge diffence. My first KZ I added an extra blade at the back, fit Monroe shocks all round and put 31" on - I thought it was a magnificant vehicle (we don't do trails only overlanding). Then I bought the current KZ and fit heavy duty OME from the start with 31" and what a difference!!!

Suspention travel way way better, tolerating/handling the off-road trailer much better and hardly ever need the diff lock (not to mention the better ride). Amazing how this can make a difference and in my opinion worth every cent.
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pietpetoors
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Willem, when you added the blade at the back, did it influence your ride comfort?

The purpose of my vehicle is for overlanding but we like doing some trails now and then because you learn a lot on these trails. On the last trail at Jakkalskloof ( http://www.pietpetoors.com/jakkalskloof/ ), the weekend before I bought my Hilux, there were 2x SFA Hilux with 33" tyres and one IFS Hilux with 31" tyres. Some portions of the trail were rather difficult but still the IFS went where ever the SFA went. I then decided that for my purpose with the vehicle the IFS will do because on normal overlanding trip one would rarely get more difficult situations than those.

Of course it always depends on what you want to use the vehicle for. If I liked driving dunes or doing more extreme trails, I would go for the SFA without any doubt.
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Willem Grobler
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[quote="pietpetoors"]Willem, when you added the blade at the back, did it influence your ride comfort?

If compared to the standard suspention before the blade yes it is harder. The main reason for the extra blade was to counter for sagging when towing the Echo. So if towing and you then compare, ride comfort is better (more level, feels more secure on the road, takes "2-spoorpaadjies" much better, higher clearance at the back). Suspension travel was limited in a way with the extra blade so the difflock was used more after the extra blades (actually then you will need the difflock!).

All in all it works well if you do not want to upgrade suspention - but hey, its much better with full suspetion upgrade!!!
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Yes I agree fully, the Hilux with the IFS is far more comfortable on tar roads, aircons, power steerings, has much more speed and is a real pleasure to drive, better fuel consumption, however you guys with a Hilux that has IFS, all that you have to do is fit a locker up front, some larger tyres and your vehicle will perform very well off-road.

Concerning the older Hilux with the SFA, it is a bull dog on tar roads, is slow and uncomfortable, some do not have power steering, most do not have aircon, back breaking bench seat, which must be thrown out and replaced with bucket seats, various options are available.

But even a Hilux with a solid front axle that does not have one or two lockers is also most times useless off-road, yes they may have more ground clearence and more articulation on the front axle, but as soon as one wheel lifts off the ground, Bingo there goes your traction.

I have heard of a few people who have removed the IFS and fitted a solid front axle from an older Hilux, thus they have all the comforts, excellent articulation up front and a vehicle that can perform as they want it to.

But no matter which Hilux you drive, the bottom line concerns the driver and his ability, does he know his vehicle :oops:
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I have seen a IFS with the SFA conversion at Atlantis once. It climbed dunes which the neither the real SFA nor the IFS could climb, so it seems like a very good conversion. Apparently it cost about R35,000.

Talking of diff-locks in front, my one friend has a 1998 2.4 LTD Hilux DC. He has lockers at front and rear. He has a problem, the CVs keep on breaking. in the past 18 months he broke 3. The one broke beginning of January while we were playing in the dunes close to Jacobsbaai and the same one again on our trip the other day at Jakkalskloof. All three times it happened when the front diff-lock was engaged. The other guys with SFAs have not broken a CV ever. Could this have something to do with the front lockers?
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When you say cv joints are you in fact talking about the birfield joint, these can break, this is why he must fit the Longfield molychrome side shafts, they come with a special joint that is similar to the TJ Wrangler joint, will cost +- R8 600 for the front, I have a friend Guy in JHB who can supply them.
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Normally this SFA vs IFS topic becomes a very long discussion.
It seems to me as if one can summarize it as follows:

As always, it depends on what you want to use the vehicle for.
If you are into the challenges various trails offer then the IFS will not work for you and you have to go for the SFA. The SFA will out perform the IFS on difficult trails and dune driving.

If you use your vehicle mostly for overlanding then the IFS will be suitable. It offers a more comfortable ride and will be able to take you from Cape Town to Cairo and back.
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That's it in a nutshell!

-F_D
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White Fang: 1999 2.7i DC Raider 4x4
Bull Dog: 1987 4Y-EFI 2.2 DC 4x4
Pra Dog: 1998 Prado VX 3.4
Hound Dog: 2000 2.7i SC 4x4


One Staffie, One Jack Russell, One Ring Neck Screecher, 17 Fish of questionable heritage


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SYRON CONVERSIONS wrote:Y
But even a Hilux with a solid front axle that does not have one or two lockers is also most times useless off-road, yes they may have more ground clearence and more articulation on the front axle, but as soon as one wheel lifts off the ground, Bingo there goes your traction.
Simon

This is one place where I differ from you radically. I have no lockers and have no burning desire to get myself lockers either.

First of all you need to lift 2 wheels (cross axle) before you lose traction completely. I still have plenty drive available with one wheel in the air only

If you have your wheels on the ground enough (proper articulation) you will be able to go a lot of places. The obstacles I can not manage is normally places where either my wheels are too small (245x75xR15) and my pumpkin gets stuck or where traction is so bad on steep uphill twisters that guys with lockers risk breaking side shafts as well. I believe that proper driving technique (how good you know your vehicles capabilities) has a lot to do with it. If I went and locked my suspension when I bought the vehicle I would have never learned proper technique. The longer I drive my van the more I seem to improve and impress myself.

As I learn my vehicle’s limitations, I am rather investigating how to improve traction via proper articulation. I have a few ideas on how I can improve ride height and articulation up front and would like to get larger wheels as well. Lockers will be the very last mods I ever do on the Lux when I am sure nothing regarding the suspension can be made any better.

I have seen guys with unlocked Luxes and Safaris go where many guys with duel lockers will struggle to keep up.
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pietpetoors wrote:Normally this SFA vs IFS topic becomes a very long discussion.
It seems to me as if one can summarize it as follows:

As always, it depends on what you want to use the vehicle for.
If you are into the challenges various trails offer then the IFS will not work for you and you have to go for the SFA. The SFA will out perform the IFS on difficult trails and dune driving.

If you use your vehicle mostly for overlanding then the IFS will be suitable. It offers a more comfortable ride and will be able to take you from Cape Town to Cairo and back.
What you said here is quite right.

From a technical point of view consider this. With SFA the centre of the diff is fixed between the front wheels and it moves in relation to the body of the vehicle. So the distance between the centre of the diff and the ground will stay the same (if the surface is linear) as the suspension travels in and out.

IFS working are the complete inverse. The centre of the diff is fixed in relation to the body and it varies in relation to the ground up to a point where it can come close to the ground. If the surface is now slightly uneven the chance of it touching the ground is much higher than with a SFA where the surface must be much more uneven before touching occurs.

Please excuse my rather primitive illustration but I believe this will demonstrate what I tried stating above a bit more clearly


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pietpetoors
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Hi Bennie, that is the most brilliant explanation I have ever seen. For the first time I now fully understand why the IFS do not like dunes and axle twisters.
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Hi guys,

IFS vs SFA always an interesting topic. I hear what you say about the travel (movement) of the diff in relation to the surface/body, and I agree.

Something else to consider is the actual wheel travel before traction is lost. Traction is the "grip" that the tyre have on the surface, no grip, no traction, tyre spinning (if you don't have diff lock).

SFA's have quite a lot more wheel travel before the tyre looses traction, I've read somewhere about 100 mm more, which will be a big help in axle twisters.

Something off topic: How much torque is transferred to each wheel with an "open" diff? (Open diff: one that isn't locked). And how much torque is transferred to each wheel when a diff is locked?

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Hi so ive got a sfa hilux but i would like to put in a pumpkin with diff lock as i understand mine would not have the diff lock would it be better to put in one with the diff lock and what would i get for my old one
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