The main difference between leaf springs and 4-link suspensions is that leaf springs are simpler and cheaper to manufacture, while 4-link suspensions provide better handling and stability.
The leaf spring vs 4 link suspension debate raises much thought among truck enthusiasts. Mostly the arguments are complicated and vary depending on vehicle usage. The problem with this debate becomes more complicated as there are vastly divergent opinions on both ends.
With too many complex variables, individual tastes and driving habits often make the argument difficult to arrive at a definitive conclusion. To address which one you should grab, here we’re going to review their real-world application and then evaluate them.
At the same time, we’ll discuss their advantages and disadvantages as well. Afterward, in accordance with our editors, you’ll ultimately decide which option is best for you.
Leaf Spring Vs 4 Link – Comparison Table
Before we delve into comparing major factors regarding leaf springs and 4-link suspension, it’s good to see the comparison chart at a glance.
|Attribute||Leaf Spring||4 Link|
|Setup||Easy to set up||Complex setup|
|Handling||Offer better handling||Varies depending on the surface|
|Stability||More stable||Provides less stability|
Leaf Spring vs. 4 Link – Head-to-Head Comparison
Some people might think that a suspension system is just a set of springs and shocks, but that’s not always the case. Every driver, every day, will require a different level of comfort and performance from their suspension. To help you understand how leaf spring and 4-link suspension compare, we’ve compiled a head-to-head comparison between them.
When applied to the plan, leaf springs are stackable, making them simple to return, even when an additional lift is necessary to achieve access within a building.
Leaf springs mounted on the vehicle can be removed the same way aftermarket ones are, with the exception of engaging replacement bolts. These two numbers, strap travel, and wheel travel indicate the amplitude of wheel travel and suspension compression.
However, when it’s about setting up 4 links, you have to ensure fabrication properly hence 4 links don’t come as a bolt-on setup. Even though, when the setup is done perfectly, you’ll notice a significant increment in the wheel travel.
Once again, you have to adhere to all instructions strictly because they don’t have factory mounting locations well. At the same time, you have to choose 4 links corresponding to your vehicle. These whole make the setup process more complex than leaf springs.
Conventional leaf-spring setups are not equipped to handle rapid disturbances. This is mainly because the quick force created by trips requires a super-stiff spring stiffness to effectively absorb the energy spike, which helps prevent the bottoming out.
Given that additional vertical travel is afforded by 4 links at the time of upheaval, the use of force imposed in the middle of the leaf-spring setup is much less painful. We in no case mean to say that leaf springs are completely unable to handle tough circumstances. It simply requires a more sturdy design to employ in these situations.
Generally speaking, leaf springs are heavier compared to 4-link suspension. Surprisingly, weight is generally considered an enemy. However, in the event of a serious off-road endeavor, unsprung weight can improve the process of absorbing the impact of tippy tires to avoid potential tip-over incidents. For usual trail use, the added weight of leaf springs is beneficial especially to defend from possible tip-over situations.
Conquering Strip Surfaces
Coil-sprung, link-type suspensions are notorious for their axle wrap issues. The odds are certainly greater as axle wrap will plague you if you apply leaf springs, especially ones that are soft or placed on the axle housing. There are many ways to make an axle wrap a thing in the upper atmosphere.
The most preferred method is a torque arm attached to the chassis that triangulates the axle housing to the frame.
Leaf springs put on a pair of progressively increasing energies as they compress. As the arc of the spring flattens out, friction between leaves works in opposition to the motion of springs, which tends to offer a secure and planted sensation in the vehicle driver’s seat.
Whilst, 4 links aren’t subject to this friction and have a tendency to wiggle around even when compressed. For this reason, link suspensions feel tippy when deflated.
Due to the modular design, it is easy to increase their carrying capacity as they include multiple layers. They are a better choice if you need additional capacity as you can add layers of additional material to increase the load.
On the contrary, 4 link suspensions are made from a cross-section of a single piece of steel wire. The metal wire’s carrying capacity depends on diameter, the number of coil wraps, and the length of its sheathing. Because of manufacturing complications, mass-produced 4 links with coilovers have a low load capacity.
People will not debate which types of springs wear out and sag over time. Thermoplastic insulators help to limit noise transmission between separate leaf springs. Rubber bushings at either end of the leaf springs usually wear out or become noisy with time.
While perhaps imperceptible, for the sake of this manufacturer, the noise and other characteristics of unlubricated and ill-fitting components should be drastically minimized.
4 Link suspensions provide more freedom of motion than traditional suspension systems. This means that they can be used in a variety of positions and applications, making them perfect for cars that need greater flexibility and maneuverability.
In a leaf spring suspension, the leaves are required to carry out two jobs. First, they support the rear axle during suspension travel. They attenuate both forward and reverse motion and limit the slip angle change during motion.
Then, while they are performing these tasks, they strengthen the full and proper load dispensing of the truck. This is in comparison to the suspension type of rigid link in which both functions are required for successful operation.
Whilst, the solitary function of 4 links suspensions is dilating the top and rear wheels and the method is separated from each other. Springs deals with expanding the wheelbase, permitting the wheels to move independently of the suspension. Four-link rear suspension will track down the rear axle regardless of the extent you wish to soften the springs with a leaf spring rear suspension.
Pros and Cons of Leaf Springs
Now it’s time to summarize all the pros and cons of leaf springs under one shade. Let’s see:
- Leaf springs are versatile and cost-effective.
- They provide superior handling capacity
- Heavyweight design ensures greater resistance to bouncing
- Higher load capacity
- They’re extremely stable
- Not very suitable for climbing
- Less ride tuning opportunity
Pros and Cons of 4-Link Suspension
Well, we should also highlight the advantages and disadvantages of 4-link suspension.
- Incredible off-road performance
- Superior ride tuning opportunity
- Comes with better design dynamics
- Best for climbing strip surfaces
- Greater capability to handle tippy situations
- Not much cost-effective
- Struggle during on-road driving
Leaf Spring Vs 4 Link – Our Verdict
So, what do you think? Should you pick a set of leaf springs or that traditional 4 link suspension? You’ll need to choose between leaf springs and 4-link setups based on the sort of vehicle you have and how much time you want to put into repairs and maintenance.
The choice continues to be up to it comes down to this, between two extremes. One method may be far more practical, depending on specific conditions. If you’re searching for something that can be set up quickly and easily, leaf springs should be your first stop. If this is the case, then a pull bar ought to be the next option.
By contrast, a 4-link suspension setup is a great option if your vehicle is a present or future race car or if you are going to be racing with it on the weekend. As long as it’s done correctly, there’s nothing better or more suited for getting a vehicle back in the dirt than the right setup.