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How Do I Choose the Best Axle Kit?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 20 August 2016
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    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
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When attempting to choose the best axle kit for any vehicle, you must decide on the type of axle you want as well as the intended purpose for the axle. An axle kit can be purchased in many forms, from complete kits with bearings, springs and axle mounts to bare-bones kits featuring just the plain axles. Conversion axle kit components typically include all the necessary parts to change an axle from one type to another. Most commonly found when swapping an independent front suspension to a straight axle design, some kits will also include steering components and other related parts.

Many vehicles were swapped to the nose-high straight axle design of the like-named race car in the height of the "gasser" wars on American drag-strips. A gasser is a car or truck built with an axle kit that places a straight axle under the front of the vehicle in place of the independent suspension that was installed from the manufacturer. The best quality axle kit for this application often included not only the axle, hubs and spindles for the front axle, but also leaf springs, axle mounts and shocks. Also, some of the best kits could be purchased with the steering box, tie rods and brake kits included.

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Many 1930s-era hot rods use a straight axle in the front that is similar to a period-correct front axle offered on the vehicle as it came from the manufacturer. The difference in the hot rod axles is the type of axle used in the suspension build. Dropped axles, made by stretching the ends of the axles to allow the vehicle to sit much lower than stock, are the hot ticket. While most factory front axles are solid forgings, some of the best hot rod axle kit components use hollow tube-type axles. These kits can be purchased in plain steel tubing, polished stainless steel tubing or chrome-plated axles.

If you are looking for ease of installation, no axle kit should be purchased that does not include all of these parts. If, however, your definition of the best kit implies quality instead of completeness, the individual components can be assembled in a kit using only the best parts offered by several different manufacturers. This type of kit will be far more expensive than a commonly-sourced axle kit from a single manufacturer. In order to obtain the best axle kit for your application, you must exhaust all research methods comparing prices, components and reputation of the manufacturer.

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