Should I upgrade my Dana 35 axle?

Chris

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Should I upgrade my Dana 35 axle?
Once upon a time I would have told you no, don't waste your money. However, knowing what I know now, I wouldn't hesitate to build a Dana 35 axle. If you're planning on running 35" tires or larger, I wouldn't bother starting with a Dana 35. However, if you don't plan on going larger than 33" tires, a built Dana 35 should be more than up to the task. By replacing the axle shafts with chromoly ones (I recommend Revolution axle shafts), upgrading the ring and pinion, as well as the carrier and adding a locker, I think you'd end up with a really solid axle for 33" tires.

Blaine (who I consider to be one of the most knowledgable people in the TJ community) has pointed out to us that there is a guy out there running a built Dana 35 axle on 35" tires and has no issues at all breaking anything off road. Jerry Bransford has also pointed out on numerous occasions that a built Dana 35 is up to the task.

So there you have it, two of the more knowledgable guys in the TJ community who are not dismissing the Dana 35 as a decent axle to off-road with.

Make no mistake, a built Dana 35 is a strong and capable axle. Obviously not as strong as a build Dana 44 (or similar), but if you're not going to be running anything larger than 33" tires, a built Dana 35 should suit you just fine.

In the case of the Dana 35 and the parrots all over the internet who always like to repeat things like, "Don't build a Dana 35, you'd be polishing a turd!". Well, those people likely have ZERO experience with a built Dana 35, and therefore they don't know what one is capable of. They just heard someone say not to build a Dana 35 10 years ago, and have been repeating it ever since as if it has any merit whatsoever (it doesn't). That's how rumors get started, and this is one of those rumors that has no truth to it whatsoever.

Sure, a Dana 35 in stock form will be easily destroyed by a set of 35" tires and some off-roading. However, a build Dana 35 is another story altogether. Don't underestimate these axles!

Of course there can be no question that a Dana 44 will always add more resale value (and bragging rights) to your TJ, so there's always that to keep in mind!

Oh, and remember, no matter how strong of an axle you have (even if it's a built Dana 60), that can't stop it from being destroyed by a piss poor driver. No matter how indestructible you think your axle is, no axle is indestructible against bad driving skill.


4340 vs 1541H axle shafts (and why 4340 is not a good choice)
The following is a quote from @mrblaine in another thread regarding upgrading the Dana 35 axle shafts:

There's a whole bunch of confusion and one side of the equation going on so far. First, let's get apples to apples in perspective. 1541H is a case hardening alloy. 4340 is a through hardening alloy. They are not readily interchangeable due to the 35 axle having a bearing journal that the bearing rides on directly without adding a hardened race. For that application, the superior axle material is 1541H because it is plenty strong and because it is case hardening, you can bring the surface hardness up high enough to withstand bearing rollers riding on it. "IF" you try to bring 4340 up to the same hardness, it will be brittle because there is no ductility left at those levels of hardness. The 1541H will have a very high surface hardness with a softer core for a good level of ductility.

This is typical of what 4340 does when you try to use it for a bearing shaft and don't nail the heat treat.

23234-jpg.jpg


The very same thing that makes 4340 difficult to use for bearing shafts is what makes it a great material for non bearing shafts like the Dana 44 with Set 10 bearings. Since the hardness for a bearing journal isn't an issue, the heat treat can be brought up high enough that there is a lot of ductility left and a fairly high level of hardness throughout without it being brittle.

1541H Dana 35 shafts don't scare me, 4340 Dana 35 shafts scare me a lot.
 
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Nice little write up, especially since it is most definitely a "frequently asked question." The weak points are the carrier and axles. Replace those and you will have a rear end strong enough for moderate wheeling. If you plan on hard core wheeling, 35's, etc, then the 44/8.8 is the way to go.
 
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Totally agree. A built Dana 35 should handle 33" tires fine I suspect.

However, if you want to run 35" tires or bigger, you'll undoubtedly want a Dana 44 / 8.8 or larger. With 35" tires, even on a build Dana 35, you'd really be asking for something to go wrong IMHO.
 
Haha, nope... Not directed at anyone. Just hopefully providing people with an answer to a commonly asked question.

:D
 
When you say off-roading, do you mean actual rock wrestling?

I was under the impression that a stock Dana 35 with 33's will do fine with careful and light off-roading only?


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When you say off-roading, do you mean actual rock wrestling?

I was under the impression that a stock Dana 35 with 33's will do fine with careful and light off-roading only?


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A stock Dana 35 with 33" tires would do reasonable off-road (not rock wrestling), but if you added a locker you'd destroy the stock shafts. So realistically you'd want to upgrade the carrier, ring and pinion, axle shafts and then add a locker.

I haven't tried it personally, but I would be skeptical to wheel off-road with a stock Dana 35 and 33" tires. I'd definitely carry some spare axle shafts if that was the case, that way you wouldn't be left stranded.
 
A stock Dana 35 with 33" tires would do reasonable off-road (not rock wrestling), but if you added a locker you'd destroy the stock shafts. So realistically you'd want to upgrade the carrier, ring and pinion, axle shafts and then add a locker.

I haven't tried it personally, but I would be skeptical to wheel off-road with a stock Dana 35 and 33" tires. I'd definitely carry some spare axle shafts if that was the case, that way you wouldn't be left stranded.

Well, it doesn't sound like upgrading my axle shafts is a bad idea! So the axle's would break first, then what would break next? Would upgrading my axle shafts and still taking it easy be all that I need to have peace of mind?


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Well, it doesn't sound like upgrading my axle shafts is a bad idea! So the axle's would break first, then what would break next? Would upgrading my axle shafts and still taking it easy be all that I need to have peace of mind?


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Are you planning on installing a locker? If so, you'll want to upgrade your axles, carrier, and ring and pinion (assuming you plan on re-gearing). The axles and carrier are the weak points. If you wheel on the stock axle shafts and carrier (especially with a locker) you'll be skating on thin ice!

At bar minimum upgrade the shafts and the carrier, but if it was me I would add a locker as well, since that will aid you tremendously when you are off-road.
 
I don't plan on having a locker, because at that point I'd rather just buy a Dana 44 and put a locker in it. But you feel that I need to upgrade my carrier as well as my axles to be safe on the trails. Just for my rear end or for my front end too?


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The 35 weak points are axles and carrier, specifically the spider gears. 27 spline alloy axles and a Truetrac would be a great upgrade if not looking at a locker.

The front 30 is a pretty decent little axle for moderate wheeling. Upgrades there would be the axles/u joints. You can safely run a "lunchbox" style locker in the factory carrier or go to a Truetrac also.
 
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I don't plan on having a locker, because at that point I'd rather just buy a Dana 44 and put a locker in it. But you feel that I need to upgrade my carrier as well as my axles to be safe on the trails. Just for my rear end or for my front end too?


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I would put alloy shafts in the front and alloy shafts in the rear, as well as upgrade the rear carrier.
 
Thank ya'll! So each replacement axle is about $150? Totaling $600 if I replaced all 4 of my axle shafts?

I also am not sure what an axle carrier is. I only know of the ring and pinion gear, the axle shafts, and the drive shafts!
 
Get Revolution axles from @Garza or @AOR. Those are hands down the BEST and strongest replacement axles you can get, made in the USA too (the only axle that still is). They are also priced reasonably as well.

They can also get you a new carrier I'm sure.
 
Thanks! I appreciate that!

The money I spend on those axles though, do you think I might as well get a Dana 44?

I really don't want a Dana 44. That's at least $1,000. More like $1,500. And are the stock Dana 44 axle shafts stronger or weaker than the revolution shafts that id get for my Dana 35?


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I have been doing a bit of reading on this. Jerry B. has said a Super 35 will handle 35 inch tires in Johnson valley before, I believe. I read a super 35 is stronger than a stock Dana 44 set up.

If you do the super 35 upgrade with a locker, it seems the most cost effective way to improve your ride. Depending on what kind of wheeling you do. It is the most "bolt in" upgrade.

It isn't as simple as just plopping in a Dana 44. Most likely you will also need a new rear drive shaft, probably a sye too. New u joints to match, etc.... Once you change one thing you have to follow it down and up the line to make it all work.

Hopefully @Jerry Bransford will chime in on this. Everything is a give and take.

As has been said here many times, build your jeep for the wheeling YOU do!

SC
 
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Thanks! I appreciate that!

The money I spend on those axles though, do you think I might as well get a Dana 44?

I really don't want a Dana 44. That's at least $1,000. More like $1,500. And are the stock Dana 44 axle shafts stronger or weaker than the revolution shafts that id get for my Dana 35?


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From what I have read, the alloy 30 spline Dana 35 shafts are stronger than the stock 44 shafts. Of course alloy shafts for the 44 would be stronger and they come in 35 spline which is beefy. You have to decide how hard you are going to be using your TJ and go from there. None of the options are going to be cheap for sure.
 
From what I have read, the alloy 30 spline Dana 35 shafts are stronger than the stock 44 shafts. Of course alloy shafts for the 44 would be stronger and they come in 35 spline which is beefy. You have to decide how hard you are going to be using your TJ and go from there. None of the options are going to be cheap for sure.

The largest tires I'll ever run are 33's. I won't do hard wheeling per se. But I would like to go up steep grades and go slow down rocky trails. Actually use my Jeep for its intended purpose. But I'm not gonna get into a situation that'll possibly break my Jeep.

It sounds like the Revolution axle shafts, since they are stronger than Dana 44 shafts, would be perfect for what I'll be using my Jeep for. $600 total for front and rear is also cheaper than a $1,500 Dana 44. However, I don't know where I'd start to research a beefed up rear carrier or how much they'd cost?

With the revolution axles and beefed up carrier, how far off in strength would I be from having a stock Dana 44?


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Depends on what you want; locker or not. If you go with a locker, get the full kit that includes 30 spline axles and Detroit locker or ARB. If you do not want a locker, get the 27 spline alloy axles and a Truetrac.
 
Depends on what you want; locker or not. If you go with a locker, get the full kit that includes 30 spline axles and Detroit locker or ARB. If you do not want a locker, get the 27 spline alloy axles and a Truetrac.

I thought a Truetrac was a locker? Or, is it an upgraded carrier?

It seems like getting Revolution axle shafts, and at the very least a rear upgraded carrier is a very reasonable investment. One which is simpler than replacing my rear axle with a Dana 44. Would you agree?
 
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