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35s on Stock Parts

FJR

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Mostly Stock 2003 Rubicon, sits on 33’s w/ excellent clearance (1” body lift & 2” springs). OEM Lockers: front functions well, rear blown actuator. I’m on a budget. Goal is to run 35’s. While I’m regearing to 538s ( 42 RLE) I’ll most likely go with a Eaton elocker, I’d like to use all existing axle shafts, breaks and steering and upgrade as required.

Wheeling the N. East on mostly lose terrain, a mixture gravel and rock.

My question is, how will the stock axle shafts and OEM front locker hold up to moderate wheeling?
 

Alex01

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I swapped rubicon axles in my jeep and it never broke the stock shafts on 35s but I did swap the front/rear to revolution over time. Moderate wheeling you'll likely be fine but I'd atleast consider upgrading the rear since it takes most the load (front over time). You don't want to be "that guy".
 
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L J

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I’m on a budget. Goal is to run 35’s.

I'd like to use all existing axle shafts, breaks and steering and upgrade as required.
m2hmv.jpg
 

SvtLdr

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My question is, how will the stock axle shafts and OEM front locker hold up to moderate wheeling?
OEM front locker will be fine. Stock axle shafts... depends on your definition of "moderate wheeling." I would at least carry spares with you.
 
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FJR

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depends on your definition of "moderate wheeling."
For the most part "moderate wheeling," is following my friends and club members around who have built up JK's w/ 37's. Sometimes it gets a little rough, but they are the ones who've blazed the trail and all I have to do is pick a line.
 
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FJR

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Budget and 35s don't go together very well.
Budget might be the wrong terminology. I had some money saved up to buy gears, upgrade axle shafts & elockers along with new tires and rims, but some stuff came up w/ house. I was going to do everything all at once, now I have to do it incrementally.

The first thing I have to do is repair the rear locker and while I'm in there might as well regear to the 5:38's. Do I have to run 35's w/ 5:38 gears? Right now the 33 12.5 r15 have good tread. What if I run the 33's with 5:38 gears? Then the next upgrade will be the PSC Power Steering and 16" Black Magic Big Brake Kit, hence the new 17" rim.

Right now I'm running 2000rpm at 60mph. According to Grim Jeeper Gear Calculator, I'll be running about 2300rpm at 60mph.
 
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RubiconRic

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With 2" springs, I'd move forward with your plan to repair the rear locker and regear, then just run the 33s. Prior to getting 35s, I would upgrade suspension, steering (doesn't have to be PSC), and brakes (doesn't have to be big brake kit). It'd be a risk to not upgrade shafts with 35s but that's up to you. If you don't yet have a belly up and new rear DS that is something else you can do when you upgrade suspension.
 

nk24

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What if I run the 33's with 5:38 gears?
With the 42RLE you'll be just fine. RPMs will be about 2300 at 60 mph and 2700 at 70 mph. You'll be just fine with 33s and set up as well as you can be for 35s down the road.
 

Jerry Bransford

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5.38 was a good choice. For 35s, shaft-wise, I'd upgrade the front shafts to 4340 chromoly. The parts on the front shafts that hold the u-joints, commonly called ears, aren't up to 35's when the front locker locked. I'd upgrade that axle bed the rear axle.

For 35's I'd (and do) run a 4" suspension lift plus a 1-1.25" body lift.

Your OE hollow tie rod is not strong enough for 35's, I'd beef it up. Some recommend the ZJ Grand Cherokee tie rod which is solid and an easy bolt-in job. I really like the Rock Jock (aka Currie) Currectlync Heavy Duty Steering kit which includes a much beefier tie rod and drag link plus new heavier tie rod ends.
 

Grant Lasson

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I bought a'04 Rubicon that already had 35's on it. The axles seemed to be stock and I didn't have trouble while I ran them. They're still in the garage as backups. My wheeling during that time included multiple trips to Moab and around So. Utah but nothing that I would consider to be real "rock crawling."

I echo Jerry's advice about the front axle--those u-joints and ears would not be up to bouncing large tires on rocks. It should be a candidate for replacement at a reasonable time. I've replaced both of mine with Cr-moly now (RCV and Revolution Gear).

I've done quite a lot of work on the steering which was atrocious and the front brakes which were always an adventure. I went with PSC and the BMB big brake kit. I've been really happy with those but there are other good solutions that are less expensive.

After investing a lot of time and money, I'm really happy with the handling and steering now. It's a pleasure to drive. Next up: ride quality!
 
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Mumblewood

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Renton Wa
I’ve broken both front and rear stock shafts on 35’s but it took a while. What I would not skimp on is the steering. I broke that also. The stock tie rod is garbage. Complete and total garbage. Upgrade that first. ZJ is less garbage but after hours of trying to get back to a place to get the jeep on a trailer I opted for the Currie, did not want to go through that again
 
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FJR

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belly up and new rear DS
Definitely need a tummy tuck and get rid of the factory skid plate. Compared to other upgrades, DSs are a cheap and easy bolt ons. I rebuilt the OEM DS last year w/ Spicer U Joints. BTY, do you still have the OEM Dana 44 low pinion in front? If so, how is that working out? Does it ever get hung up on the rocks?
 
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FJR

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With the 42RLE you'll be just fine. RPMs will be about 2300 at 60 mph and 2700 at 70 mph. You'll be just fine with 33s and set up as well as you can be for 35s down the road.
Holding off on the 35’s really sounds like the way to go. I somehow had it in my mind that 35’s and 538 gears would wind out too high. If memory serves me correct, my Toyoda Land Cruiser, FJ40, on 33’s would run 3000rpm at 60mph.
 
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FJR

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I'd upgrade that axle bed the rear axle.
I'm not sure what an axle bed is? typo??? Revolution Gear & Axle has a great deal on 4140 CHROM-MOLY REAR AXLE KIT. I've got a little squeal in the rear end that sounds like a wheel bearing. Especially going up hill under power.
 

RubiconRic

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Definitely need a tummy tuck and get rid of the factory skid plate. Compared to other upgrades, DSs are a cheap and easy bolt ons. I rebuilt the OEM DS last year w/ Spicer U Joints. BTY, do you still have the OEM Dana 44 low pinion in front? If so, how is that working out? Does it ever get hung up on the rocks?
Yes I have the OEM Rubi housings and they've been fine in the rocks. If you're going to play in the rocks I'd look into an aftermarket diff cover or armor.
 
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FJR

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Troy NY
front shafts
Last year I bent the OEM Track Bar, so I rebuilt the front end, new Splicer U-Joints in the shafts, Timken Unit Bearings, steering stabilizer, Rock Krawler track bar, BMBP on old rotors and a professional alignment. I bought the Currectlync, but never installed it because the manufacturer recommends at least 4” of lift. I’ll put it in with the 4in suspension modification. Definitely will upgrade the front axle shafts. Thanks for the advice that I should use 4340 chromoly front shafts.

BTW, I felt the magic in the BMBPs! Just the other day I had to slam on the brakes and I really felt the improved stopping ability.

Can you point me in the right direction to find some info on the OEM locker sensor. I saw a post with some tricks on how to install the carrier and correctly position the sensor linkage. Will the OEM sensor function with an Eaton elocker?
 
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FJR

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Troy NY
I bought a'04 Rubicon that already had 35's on it. The axles seemed to be stock and I didn't have trouble while I ran them. They're still in the garage as backups. My wheeling during that time included multiple trips to Moab and around So. Utah but nothing that I would consider to be real "rock crawling."

I echo Jerry's advice about the front axle--those u-joints and ears would not be up to bouncing large tires on rocks. It should be a candidate for replacement at a reasonable time. I've replaced both of mine with Cr-moly now (RCV and Revolution Gear).

I've done quite a lot of work on the steering which was atrocious and the front brakes which were always an adventure. I went with PSC and the BMB big brake kit. I've been really happy with those but there are other good solutions that are less expensive.

After investing a lot of time and money, I'm really happy with the handling and steering now. It's a pleasure to drive. Next up: ride quality!
Hello Utah! I went to a vocational school in Clearfield, Utah, when I was a kid. I never really had the time back then to fully appreciate the desert. I can’t wait to do some desert wheeling!

I’ve noticed that the TJ rides a little choppy. I’ll be installing a Rock Krawler suspension. They are local for me. I always root for the home team and try to buy USA.

Chris did a GREAT write up on a PSC installation, so I’ll follow his lead in the near future. Do you still have the stock front Rubicon Dana 44? How does the PSC hydraulic ram assist at highway speeds?