Lift is out. Should I replace the axle and driveshaft next?


jrmcafee

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After 6 months of 7” lift/35” MT hell, I’ve downsized to a 33” AT Ko2 and have removed 3” body lift. Progress!

During the BL removal, the local off-road shop indicated that the front axle bushing was spent and that the transfer case was disconnected when they pulled the lift. They reconnected the transfer case cable and shared that because the front axle bushing was worn, it could be worth draining the fluid to determine whether work needed to done to the axle, driveshaft and gears. I believe them because the Jeep has spent a large portion of its life sitting and there seems to be a lot of play/flex in the front end when shifting.

Let me couch all of this with 1) this is my first Jeep, 2) it’s 23 years old, 3) it was running 35/12.50/15’s and 7” of total lift on what appears to be stock axles as far as I can tell (not to mention it’s a 2.5L), and finally 4) I have probably botched the synopsis they provided me but I am hoping you experts can decipher.

I bought this in January with 80,000 miles and zero rust and it’s been a decent daily around town after I replaced the cooling system and got it running. At this point I’m in it for $11,700 total and I’m at a point where I’m wondering how much more needs to be plugged into it to make it a reasonable highway driver.

So ultimate question: for a primarily road-running Jeep, what’s the right play here? I don’t plan on working with the off-road shop either way (I don’t need 4wd and I’m not interested in reinforcing stock setup), but I’m wondering if it’s better to have my mechanic repair the stock front-end or source reman parts?

Also, gratuitous before/after shots of the setup pre- and post-body lift removal. (And the Rubi stickers have been there since I bought it. Not coming off until if/when it’s repainted or wrapped)

55CA09B4-8566-4661-87A7-2C969D2C67E5.jpeg

E0B3C524-5BB2-4B6E-8F50-79EBF2F79432.jpeg
 

qslim

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Quite a lot to digest here. At least you have 1/2 doors!

I don't know a lot about the 4 bangers apart from the ones I've helped my pals fix. What's question here, are you trying to figure out the optimal solution for just running around town? If the thing is solid beside the PO mods, I'd say return it to stock suspension. If the front diff seals are shredded from that massive lift I'd think you could just change them. Barring that a replacement Dana 30 front axles seem to be fairly cheap. I sold mine for $100.
 
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jrmcafee

jrmcafee

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Quite a lot to digest here. At least you have 1/2 doors!

I don't know a lot about the 4 bangers apart from the ones I've helped my pals fix. What's question here, are you trying to figure out the optimal solution for just running around town? If the thing is solid beside the PO mods, I'd say return it to stock suspension. If the front diff seals are shredded from that massive lift I'd think you could just change them. Barring that a replacement Dana 30 front axles seem to be fairly cheap. I sold mine for $100.
Yeah I know I threw a lot into that post. Sorry about that. I swapped the half-doors when I first bought it for a set of decent full doors and then we both agreed to renege on the deal a couple of months later. I like the halves.

I know very little where axles and driveshafts are concerned. New world for me. So perhaps service what's already there instead of venturing down the path of rebuilt drivetrain as a start?

Also thinking of replacing my own front shocks and the front stabilizer. I'm not looking for best of breed; It's currently got Skyjacker 4000's on the front that are probably 10+ years old at least at this point.
 

eastbloc

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Okay, so...
Your TC is disconnected, and you care less about 4wd? In that case remove front drive shaft and drive without it.
Drop down even further to 31" in tire size, and lower it to 2.5" of lift. There is your reasonable highway driver.

Play/flex while shifting is a broad explanation. it can be anything from everything being lose and needing replacement, to everything being as it should and you simply having a flex due to acceleration.

Work being done on front axle is a different story. If you care less for its use, technically that eliminates half the things it needs, if it truly needs it.
 
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L J

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They reconnected the transfer case cable and shared that because the front axle bushing was worn, it could be worth draining the fluid to determine whether work needed to done to the axle, driveshaft and gears.
You can drain the diff fluid and pop the cover to inspect. Take some pics and post them up.
A replacement front driveshaft can be had for a few hundred dollars from Tom Wood's and the like.
Replacing the front end components, with Spicer parts if possible, is fairly simple and can be done for not much money. Look at the ZJ tie rod swap while you're at it.

So ultimate question: for a primarily road-running Jeep, what’s the right play here?
If you have the tools and interest, do it yourself. The money you'll save will usually buy any tools you don't already have but need.
 
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jrmcafee

jrmcafee

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Okay, so...
Your TC is disconnected, and you care less about 4wd? In that case remove front drive shaft and drive without it.
Drop down even further to 31" in tire size, and lower it to 2.5" of lift. There is your reasonable highway driver.

Play/flex while shifting is a broad explanation. it can be anything from everything being lose and needing replacement, to everything being as it should and you simply having a flex due to acceleration.

Work being done on front axle is a different story. If you care less for its use, technically that eliminates half the things it needs, if it truly needs it.
I’m with you on the adjustments you shared. It’s a process for certain. I’m amazed by how much improvement came from dropping from a 35 12.5 MT to a 33 AT. I know finding some 15-16” wheels would have made additional progress there. The body lift being out is a big plus too.

One other thing I’m contending with is now the gear selector hits the dash in 1st and 3rd. I assume that must mean an extension to the post needs removing as well?
 
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jrmcafee

jrmcafee

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You can drain the diff fluid and pop the cover to inspect. Take some pics and post them up.
A replacement front driveshaft can be had for a few hundred dollars from Tom Wood's and the like.
Replacing the front end components, with Spicer parts if possible, is fairly simple and can be done for not much money. Look at the ZJ tie rod swap while you're at it.


If you have the tools and interest, do it yourself. The money you'll save will usually buy any tools you don't already have but need.
Today I ordered new front shocks and stabilizer and I plan to do that work myself.

Whether the concern is warranted or not, I have some hesitation about pulling off the diff cover and getting into internals. Same mindset as having the offroad shop do the BL removal. I could **probably** have done it, but 7 pucks in and one seizes... I'm smoked. Feel the same way about axle/driveshaft type work. I'm also probably more stretched for time than I am money, as bizarre of a thing as that is to say.
 
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