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Jeep Axles

When regearing the Jeep it is often necessary to change the gear carrier; this is because as the pinion tooth count goes down it often gets smaller, making it necessary to move the ring gear closer. Most commonly used light axles have two carriers available, a thick and a thin depending upon the application. The crossover between needing one carrier or the other is commonly referred to as the 'carrier break'

This list shows some of the common axles used with Jeeps. Although it represents many axles, it is by no means all-inclusive.

For XJ-specific axle information, see this page.

Front Axle Options
Axle What Jeeps have it?
Carrier Breaks
Miscellaneous info
Dana27 Front Axle, early CJ 3.73 & down 3.92 & up  
Dana30 Front Axle - CJ, TJ, XJ, WJ, YJ, ZJ 3.54 & down 3.73 & up CJ have passenger-side pumpkin
TJ, XJ, WJ, YJ, ZJ have driver's side pumpkin


XJ 84-99 D30s are high-pinion
XJ 00-01 D30s are low-pinion
All YJ D30s are high-pinion
All TJ D30s are low-pinion

Dana44
Front (low pinion)
- Rubicon TJ
- Rubicon LJ

Later model SJ Front

3.73 & down 3.92 & up
XJ rear Dana 44 - front cover is similar
(Above: XJ rear Dana44, front is similar)

Other vehicles

See the exterior section of my 'Future Mods' page for more information on axle swaps into Cherokee and Wrangler-sized Jeeps

Rear Axle Options
Dana35 Rear Axle
YJ (all),
XJ (most 84-91, all w/ABS post-91),
Most TJ
3.31 & down 3.55 & up
YJ Dana 35
(Above: YJ Dana 35. Note oval cover, rounded bottom portion)
Chrysler 8.25" XJ rear, non-ABS post-91

91-96 models had 27-spline axleshafts.

Starting in late 96, available in non-ABS Cherokees with the heavier-duty 29-spline shafts.

My Cherokee (built after March 96) had the earlier 27-spline

2.45 & down * 2.56 & up

Notice the oval-shaped cover and flat cast bottom 'lip' that differentiates the 8.25 from the Dana35
(Above: XJ 8.25 Note the oval-shaped cover and flat cast 'lip' that differentiates the 8.25 from the Dana 35)

* Since the highest XJ gear is the 3.07 included with most manual-shift Cherokees, the numerically lower 8.25" carrier isn't seen in our applications

Dana44 CJ rear thru 1975

Some 1986 CJ-7 and -8 rear

Some 1987-89 XJ Cherokee rear (most common in 1987 w/towing package, very rare in later models)

Some TJ rear

Front (low pinion) & Rear - Rubicon TJ

Common Front and Rear Swap, all models
3.73 & down 3.92 & up
XJ Dana 44
(Above: XJ Dana44)

1973 CJ5 Rear Dana44
(Above: 1973 CJ-5 Rear Dana44)

Dana60 Common Rear-Axle Swap 4.10 & down 4.56 & up

Good source - '79 F250, they have a Fullfloating D60 rear. Some early 80's Dodge pickup or vans have 35 spline Fullfloating shafts. Also, lots of early 80's Ford trucks have semi-float 60's that are 35 spline. Downside is, those axle use shafts that are retained by C-clips (c-clip eliminators can be corrected with C-clip eliminators).

Some Ford vans had a D61 - it sounds closely related but apparently isn't a very well-supported axle option.

AMC20

CJ7 rear (two-piece axleshafts)

1976-83 CJ-5 rear (two-piece axleshafts)

SJ rear (one-piece axles)

MJ Comanche, with one-piece axle shafts. Available in at least the early (84-87) MJ; or possibly just the '86 Metric Tonne version.

The 1-piece axleshaft is preferred and stronger than the CJ version which is prone to failure by spinning the keyed hub.

2.73 & down 3.07 & up

AMC20 under a 1986 MJ Comanche. Picture provided by Pete M from NAXJA
Ford 8.8 Ford Explorer/Navajo; Mercury Mountaineer     95 and newer had 31 spline & disk brakes. This is a great axle to use and you can find it very easily, plus the disc brakes are a nice mod in and of themselves. '96 and newer have 4.10 gearing available. Check M.O.R.E. for parts to make this swap into any XJ, YJ, TJ, etc.

The Ford 8.8 is slightly narrower than the D35, measuring 59.75" WMS-WMS vs 61.25" for the D35-eqipped XJ (WMS is wheel-mounting surface). This means each side is going to be 3/4" narrower. While the narrower rear can mean tighter turns on trails, it also means the tires may make contact with the inner fenderwells unless you use spacers or rims with less backspacing

         

While it's extremely important to keep the front and rear ratios the same, you may notice that some front and rear ratios are off slightly but this is okay. I've heard the variance can be up to 1%, but I wouldn't recommend taking it too far. As an example, 4.10 and 4.11 are commonly used from the factory in 4-cyl Jeeps. 3.55 and 3.54 are often found as well; the reason for the minor difference is that the tooth count between ring and pinion isn't the same in different axles but it isn't a concern as far as the mismatch of numbers. .

The gear manufacturer also plays a bit part in the strength of the axle; some manufacturers build their junk in China, and quality apparently doesn't translate correctly. Here are a few thoughts on the matter:

  • You can keep costs down by installing a locker at the same time as the gears are changed. While the parts are more expensive, you pay for labor only once, and in many cases you won't have to buy a new open carrier that will be removed with the locker anyway.
  • You can regear one end at a time if your budget is tight. **HOWEVER** make sure that you remove the front driveshaft if you do this, to prevent severe damage to the drivetrain. (the availability of this option may vary by vehicle)
  • Don't use someone else's used gears unless your Jeep is a trail-only rig. I did, and learned the hard (and expensive) way that used gears are a pain to properly set up, and they are 99.99% guaranteed to be noisy.
  • Stay away from some of the companies offering lifetime warranties. Genuine Gear is one of these; they offer a no-questions-asked lifetime warranty on their gears, but I've talked to enough installers to keep me away from those. The quality is shady, the gears are known as "GenuWHINE" by many, and a lifetime warranty on broken gears doesn't include the damage that a broken gear can do inside the pumpkin or the labor costs to remove and replace...

    I've heard the gears recommended in roughly this order; your mileage may vary:

    • Spicer
    • Superior
    • Yukon
    • US gear
    • then

    • Precision
    • Richmond
    • Sierra
    • Value Gear
    • Genuwhine
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created: Dec 30, 2003

Updated April 22, 2007

All content is copyright 2001-2007, and unless otherwise noted content comes solely from the mind and keyboard of Jim "Yucca-Man" Langdon
Any changes or modifications to your vehicle are at your own discretion; I take no responsibility for your lack of responsibility