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2001 to 2010 GM Frontend Fortification

Reinforcing GM's Independent Front Suspension

Text By , Photography by Courtesy Of All Season Diesel Performance,

It's been called weak by sled pullers and off-roaders. It's been called complicated by Dodge and Ford owners. And it's been ridiculed since GM replaced its Dana 60 front axle with it for the '88 model year. We're talking about GM's independent front suspension (IFS). And while it is more complex than the solid axles Dodge and Ford use, this is 2011-and there are fixes for everything.

If the last five years of diesel motorsports have proven anything, it's that the front suspension under the Duramax is capable of harnessing and handling big horsepower. With the right parts, boosted launches at the dragstrip and full pulls on the dirt are easy to come by. In the following pages, we'll show you how to make your '01 to '10 Chevy or GMC frontend stand up to all the horsepower the Duramax can create. Whether you're a weekend warrior, an all-out competitor, or you drive a hot street truck, we'll give you a recipe to make your 91/4-inch-diameter ring gear AAM IFS bulletproof.

Power To The Ground
The axles (also known as halfshafts, or CV-shafts) in GM's independent front suspension transmit power from the front differential to the front wheels. The halfshafts use constant-velocity (CV) joints to transmit the torque, while still allowing for steering and suspension movements. There are a total of four joints in the GM frontend. The inner joints (A) are called tripod joints. They handle changes in angle and axle plunge to compensate for the suspension travel. The outer CVs (B) use six-ball Rzeppa joints, which are capable of handling more angle (for the steering) and do not plunge.

The Key To IFS Durability
Everything in the GM IFS frontend is at its strongest when it is working in a straight line. The less angle the CV-shafts, steering links, and ball joints are exposed to-the stronger this frontend is. Ideally, you want to tune the truck's ride height to make the CV-shafts and tie rods parallel whenever the truck is putting the most power down. This will allow your truck to be more capable off-road, survive a sled pull, and launch successfully in four-wheel drive on the pavement.

Hot Street Setup
(and occasional sled puller):

  • Heavy-duty tie-rod sleeves
  • Pitman and idler arm braces
  • Do not lift the ride height of the front suspension

Hot Street Setup/Drag Racer (500 to 650 hp):

  • Heavy-duty tie-rod sleeves
  • Lower the front suspension
  • Run purple torsion bar keys

Drag Race Setup (650 hp and up):

  • Straight centerlink, or stabilizer bracket for stock centerlink
  • Heavy-duty tie-rod sleeves
  • Lower the front suspension
  • Run purple torsion bar keys

Sled Pull Setup (2.6 Class and up):

  • Aftermarket tie rods
  • Pitman and idler arm braces
  • Straight centerlink, or stabilizer bracket for stock centerlink
  • Lower the front suspension
  • Run purple torsion bar keys (or machined keys for an even lower stance)
  • Install a locker in the front differential
  • Chromoly axleshafts (optional)
  • Chromoly CV joints (optional)

Empire Diesel Performance
1055 Century Circle
IA  52002
Yukon Gear & Axle
10411 Airport Road
WA  98204
4Wheel Parts erferer
400 W. Artesia Boulevard
CA  90220
Fleece Performance Engineering
2463N 625W
North Salem
IN  46165
ARB 4x4 Products
720 SW 34th Street
WA  98057
Eaton Corporation
Cognito Motorsports
1800 Art Street
CA  93312
All Season Diesel Performance
227 Industrial Pkwy
Harbor Beach
MI  48441
RCV Performance
Loves Park
Pacific Performance Engineering
303 N Placentia Avenue
CA  92831
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