Can You Convert A Two-Wheel Drive F-150 to Four-Wheel Drive?


There are a bunch of reasons why truck lovers adore the 2WD (2-wheel- drive) Ford F-150 truck. These reasons often include more gas mileage and having to pay less on insurance. Limitations of this 2WD are realized when they want to do heavy towing, haul heavy items from one point to another or simply want to go off-roading.

Can You Convert A Two-Wheel Drive F-150 to Four-Wheel Drive?

Yes, you can. There are two main options that facilitate the conversion of a 2WD F150 to 4WD. The first option entails changing the Independent Front Suspension (IFS) to a Solid Front Axle, while the second option involves keeping the original IFS setup. Both methods, however, involve lots of parts and plenty of time both in installing and tuning them. 

As mentioned above, both methods require plenty of time and money to accomplish. However, if you are interested in a project, spend tons of cash on your truck in repaying the loans, or you just outright love your vehicle so much that buying another one sends chills down your spine, then you are in the right place. Below is a guide to help you with the conversion to 4wd.

What Is The Difference Between IFS And SFA?

Among all the heavily debated topics about the F150 suspension, this one tops the chart. Many online forums have made countless comparisons between the two suspension types.

IFS, however, seems to be the better option as it performs better when off-road and is more versatile. This information is backed up by the switch of major car manufactures like Jeep to an IFS system.

A good example is Jeep vehicles that were all made before 2001. They all came with an SFA system, but after 2001, the company switched to IFS. The switch was included in the Grand Cherokee WJ, Wrangler TJ, and Cherokee XJ.

These 4×4 vehicles are considered to be one of the best when it comes to off-roading which should say enough about IFS. Currently, almost every Jeep model comes with an IFS. 

SFA, on the other hand, is a suspension that was primarily developed for rough off-roading conditions but has a poor right quality overall. What this therefore means is that SFA can easily be outperformed by the IFS both in off-road and on-road situations.

It is for this reason that many 4×4 trucks in the world today come with an IFS straight from the factory. 

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Both IFS And SFA?

SFA 

Advantages

  • To begin with, SFA suspensions are much more robust and durable than IFS. That has a lot to do with its design language
  • Secondly, SFA’s are particularly good for specific terrains like off-road trails and rock crawling adventures that have huge boulders littering the road. 
  • Finally, swapping out or working on SFA is much easier when compared to IFS. 

Disadvantages

  • SFA are notorious for offering a rougher ride experience that is not as versatile when compared to IFS.
  • You are also likely to toss your head more in the cabin when using SFA.
  • Finally, when in off-road situations, you will have to drive slower to avoid damaging the suspension

IFS

Advantages

  • IFS offers a smoother ride when compared to SFA. This is because the two sets of wheels are not connected using one steel beam. 
  • For truck owners that spend most of the time on the road, this setup is the best for you as it offers unrivaled comfort. 
  • Additionally, off-roading can be done at higher speeds as compared to SFA
  • Finally, IFS offers more ground clearance when compared to SFA

Disadvantages

  • To begin with, they offer less on-ramp articulation of the tires than SFA.
  • Finally, this type of setup is more expensive and harder to work on. This is mainly because IFS setups have lots of moving parts. 

How Do I Convert My 2WD F-150 To 4WD Using An IFS?

If you choose to keep the IFS system on your 2WD F-150, not only will it cost you some more money, but it will also involve taking a few more steps during the conversion when compared to SFA. Switching to 4WD and keeping the current IFS is possible and involved the following steps below.

Step 1

First, you will need to work on your front suspension. This involves stripping the whole front suspension from a salvage yard. You should also include the CV shafts and the 8.8 front differentials while at it. 

Step 2

The next part that you will be needing is the transfer case, otherwise known as the T-case. In a 4X4 vehicle, it is the T-case that works the drive train. The T-case is very important during the conversion as it is the component that will be transferring power both to the rear axle and the front axle. It is advisable that you purchase a new one just to be sure about its reliability. 

Step 3

The front driveshaft is the third part you should be salvaging from the scrap yard. The driveshaft is a component that transfers power from the Transfer case to the front axle to turn the wheels. This is such an important component in the drive train of your 4X4 vehicle. Before salvaging this component, there are a few things you should watch out for. 

They include having a truck that is hard to turn in the corners, vibrations coming from beneath the truck, any vibrations or shuddering when accelerating, loud clunking noises or knocking, clicking or squeaking noises. All these are indicators could be indicators that the drive shaft is worn out. 

Step 4

Spindles and hubs are the next things you should be getting from the salvage. Spindles are the internals in an axle that connects the hub and the wheel to the axle.

Step 5

Checking the front differential gear ratio is the next step. The same gear ratio is needed for the front differential to work. You can do this by pulling off the driveshaft and looking at the swab of paint located at the top of the pinion. This color should correspond to a specific ratio. 

Step 6 

This step involved bolting the transfer case onto the 2WD transmission. Most times, this should be a tight fit. If it is, you may have to fabricate it in order to bolt the transfer case. 

Step 7

Shortening the rear driveshaft is the next step. Most times, the rear axle is longer than the length that you need. If it is, you need to shorten it by a few inches. This job requires a high degree of detail, and it is better if you leave it to a professional. 

Step 8 

This is the second last step, and it involves the purchase of a sending unit. For your F150 conversion, there are two types of sending units, manual or electrical. The work of the sending unit is to minimize the flow of electrical current both inside and around the tank of fuel. 

Step 9

This is the final step, and it involves the purchase of new vacuum lines and wires. Brand new vacuum lines from Ford will cost you around $100. They come in two lines, a pink and a blue one. The job of the blue line is to run the vacuum when you are driving in 4WD, while the work of the pink one is to run the vacuum when in 2WD. 

Conclusion

The conversion of an F150 truck is indeed possible and can be done using either the IFS or SFA system. Depending on the type of system you choose, your truck will be more capable than before. 

John Nelson

You can find John stringing a hammock from the back of his SUV to a tree camping in the outdoors most weekends during warmer weather. John loves the outdoors and the freedom four-wheel-drive vehicles offer.

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