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Should you use a Floater Rear End?

7/20/2020
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With updated suspension systems, high horsepower and large sticky tires, car owners are pushing the limits of their streetcar further. With the higher stresses, you are starting to see more items that are commonly used on the racetrack making their way into the muscle car market. One of those items is a floater rear end housing.

Your standard GM housing or Ford 8.8 housing the axles are held in the center using C-clips. In a standard flanged Ford 9 inch housing, the axles are held in at the end using a bearing retainer. If a C-clip breaks or an axle breaks, you could lose a wheel off your vehicle. With these types of rear-end housings, the axle must support the weight of the vehicle, cornering loads, and torque loads. Another issue with these rear ends is brake pad knock back. Most applications the caliper is mounted solid to the rear end housing. When hard cornering, the axles will deflect. Your rotor moves and pushes the pistons back into the caliper. The result is you will not have rear brakes until the brakes are pumped back up.

Upgrading to a floater housing has many benefits. Think of it like your front spindle. The rear hub rides on two tapered roller bearings. The splines of the axle float in the drive flange and the differential. The drive flange is sandwiched between the hub and the wheel which is driven by the wheel studs. The vehicle weight and cornering loads are now on the housing instead of the axle. The only force now being applied to the axle is the torque load to drive the car. This makes it the ideal setup for a high horsepower car. Also, now you do not have any axle deflection from cornering loads. This eliminates the pad knockback issue for those running autocross, road courses, or just some fun-spirited driving! Another benefit is removing the third member. You can leave your wheels on and just remove the end caps of the hubs. Then pull the axles out the end and remove the third member.

So, after reading the above why wouldn't you choose a floater rear end? One issue you may have is wheel fitment with the drive flange. Typically, this not an issue but below is a drawing with dimensions to check clearances.

The brake bracket is typically welded to the rear-end housing. If you ever decide to change the size of brakes, you would have to cut and weld on a new bracket. Lastly, some people will tell you that a floater setup is expensive.

A Speedway flanged Ford 9 inch rear end kit (Part # 91046056) costs $799.99.

A Speedway Ford 9 inch Floater housing rear end kit (Part # 91048423) costs $874.99.

The floater kit comes with 5/8 studs so there is an additional cost to replace these with 1/2 studs (Part # 91048397) which are $4.99 apiece.

This brings the total of a floater housing to $924.89.

Truth is, the floater set up will cost you $124.90 more, but it comes with better performance and added safety. Also, the rotor bolts directly to the hub and you save money down the line by not having to buy brake hats.

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