How To Upgrade the Axle on Jeep YJ? (Debunked!)

The Jeep YJ is sold as Jeep Wrangler in the US. Their axles are solid and paired with a 4WD system. This makes the axles top-notch flexible, providing high durability.

But what types of axles are available? Which axle setup will give the best performance? Which differential cover belongs to which axle? More importantly, how to upgrade the setup? Do you have to upgrade both at once?

Your TJ Wrangler comes with a front Dana 30 axle and a rear Dana 35. But you’ll find Dana 44s (both front and rear) for the Rubicon model. In this article, I will explain to you the different YJ axles. And will discuss the steps to upgrade the axles in detail.

Can You Upgrade the Axle on Jeep YJ?

Yes, you can Upgrade the Axle on Jeep YJ. You can do it yourself with what I’ll teach you. You will only need a few tools and this article.

However, you must consider a few things before upgrading the axle:

  • Be clear on what you want from the upgrade. This includes what you want your jeep to do. The type of issues you want to avoid, The type of drive you go on, etc.
  • Make sure you know the process and materials needed for the upgrade. Keep everything by your side before starting to work.
  • Have a proper budget in your head. This will save you from spending unnecessary money. Search forums to find out the price of parts in the junkyards near you.
  • You can upgrade the axle of either the front or rear at a time. The upgrading/replacement does not have to be in pairs.

When Should You Upgrade Axle?

Here is when you should get upgrades:

  • Had a change of tires recently? Make sure the tire size gearing, the horsepower, and the axles are all smooth together. Larger tires are going to overpower the axle. So make sure all your specifications match to give you the best drive. Make sure to upgrade the axles if you are upgrading the wheeling. Here’s a bunch of information on wheeling your jeep while protecting those axles.
  • If the U joint of the axle is damaged. Sometimes the problem is with greasing. Check properly to find out the problem.
  • If the axle shaft is damaged.
  • If you are getting a change of the driving track. Roads with many turns will tend to produce more oscillation of the U joint. Which will provide a bit of resistance. This causes either a U joint break. Or the shaft collars breaking. In this case, you should get an axle shaft upgrade.

How Much Does It Cost To Upgrade The Axle on Jeep YJ?

Usually, the labor cost ranges from $190-240. However, I am giving you instructions on how to do it yourself in this article. So, you can save the labor costs.

The price of parts ranges from $760-780. Additional parts can round this amount to $800-850.

However, it is possible to get assembled axle shafts within $200. It depends on the specifications of your jeep and the demands of your driving. Of course, off-driving demands more sophistication from your axles.

My Top Recommendation On Jeep YJ Axle Upgrade

The Jeep YJ usually comes with the Dana axles. This includes Dana 30 on the front. The rear one is the Dana 35. However, the Dana 35 has become somewhat an infamous axle. This is mainly due to its poor off-road performance.

In this section, we have some axle recommendations for you.

The Dana 44 Axle: It is an automotive axle. It performs well if your requirements don’t includelarge tires and power. The Dana 44 cover is muffin shaped. There are10 bolt holes. Its width is 10 and 3/8 inches.

The Dana 60 Axle: These are stronger than the 44 axles. This is for a better powered jeep with bigger wheeling. It is a 1 ton axle. This also has a 10 bolt cover. Dana 60 axle has a “60” cast into the housing. The measure of the ring gear is 9 and 3⁄4 inches.

The Dana 30 Axle: This is a good axle even when you are using your jeep as an expedition gig. For those campings and many more. If you are not a mountain climber and muddy trailer, you will be fine with these.

How To Upgrade Axle On Jeep YJ?

Upgrading the Jeep YJ axle demands mechanical effort. You can do it in your garage. But if you don’t have the setup, I will discuss how to do it in the driveway here.

The garage or the setup only helps lift the jeep. But we can do it the old school way too!

Tools needed to Upgrade/Replace the Axle on Jeep YJ:

  • Jack.
  • Jack Stand.
  • 1 can of penetrant.
  • Impact gun
  • 19mm socket.
  • A punch.
  • Breaker bar
  • Small 13mm socket.
  • 13mm socket 12 point socket.
  • 36mm socket.
  • 30mm socket
  • Extensions
  • Seal driver (can be rented).
  • Brass hammer.
  • Regular hammer.
  • Needle nose dikes.
  • Small piece of wood (palm size and cuboidal)
  • Pry bar.
  • small chisel.

Removing the Axle on Your Jeep YJ:

The process will give you an idea of removing both the front and back axles.

Keep in Mind Before Starting: KEEP A NOTE OF THE SEQUENCE THE PARTS THAT COMES OFF! Because it will go back in while putting the new axle back in the same sequence. It is difficult to remember so better to keep a note.

In this regard, you can use a camera device too. Record the dismantling process. It is a better technique as you may not keep track of every part via note. Also, hand notes require that another person does it. This help may not be available to you.

Step-1: The first step is removing the tires. With the help of the impact gun, take out the 5 bolts and remove the tire. Now attach the 13mm socket to the gun. Now pry out the three bolts.

Step-2: Pry back the caliper. It can be done from the top. You cannot pry it down from the rotor.

Step-3: When the caliper is off, take out the rotor. Slightly slide it off with your hand as it comes off. Apply some grease now.

Step-4: Remove a little retainer when you take off a small clip. A small round piece rests below the retainer. Take that off as well. Remember to put it back on later. Remove everything you see until the axle nut is exposed to be removed.

Step-5: With a 36mm socket, take out the axle nut. Use the breaker bar to take it off.   

Step-6: With a 13mm 12 point socket, take out the hub by prying out the 3 bolts in the back. Loosen the bolts up to a quarter-inch or so. Then put on the socket and gently hammer it so that the bolts come off.

Step-7: Put grease on the handle that was holding the bearing. Now you will be able to pull the axle shaft straight off.  

Step-8: Come to the CAD mechanism. Unplug the plug. Then unbolt the screws with 13mm sockets. Take out the axle motor. It connects two axles. This step ensures that the internal shaft is taken off.

Step-9: Open the diff and take everything out sequentially. Take a pair of pliers and cut the snap ring from the inner axle shaft as seen from the diff box. Take everything out. Remember, it goes back in the same sequence. We do this because we need to replace the seals for the new axles. Remove the seals by hammering. Use a 30mm socket on an extension and hammer it down.  

Putting the New Axle on Jeep YJ:

Step-1: Install the seal with the seal driver. Assemble each part correctly. Then put the diff box cover on. 

Step-2: Put in the new inner axle shafts. Reinstall the factory snap ring. Put the new RCV collar.

Step-3: Put in the new axle shafts. Use a block of wood to hammer this in. Make sure to remove all air pockets and put in everything nice and tight. A tip on removing air pockets is: put a zip tie in between the boot and axle shaft. Using the air release gap we will hammer it in tightly.

Step-4: Adjust the dust shield, the unit bearing, and the break.

Step-5: Reassemble the tires.

Basically, every part goes on in a reverse process, after adjusting the axle shaft.

Conclusion

Jeep YJ default axles are already great! However, the rear Dana 35 may produce some issues in off-road drives. Moreover, you may spec up your jeep with larger tires. In these cases you need axle upgrades. With this article at your hand, you are equipped with knowledge! So changing axle in your jeep YJ is much easier now than before!

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