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To front 44 or not to front 44

hear

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XJ buddy just happened into another XJ, this one with a dana 60 rear & dana 44 up front with a 3-link. He was just going to put all that into his Cherokee, but decided maybe it wasn't worth the effort and maybe just selling the axles is the better course of action. So maybe it makes sense for me to buy the 44 off him but I probably should solicit advice. (I presume the Dana 60 rear is not even in the conversation?).

Pros:
  • It's a dana 44 (I'm on a 30 right now, 44 in the rear)
  • already has 4.56 gears (I'm on 3.55's and a re-gear is in my future, this would cut my cost roughly in half)
  • I'll get it at a buddy discount, but he wants me to tell him the right #.
  • It's a high pinion, but maybe all 44's are HP?
  • Has Warn manual lockout hubs (although 1 needs rebuilt)
  • I need new hub bearings on my 30 anyway, so this will sort of resolve that (assuming it's bearings are good)

Cons
  • It's set up for crossover steering, so maybe the knuckle is bored out (I think some kits require that)
    • He wants the crossover steering for his XJ, so I might then NEED to buy crossover steering as well, or put it back to factory spec somehow?
  • It's set up for the 3 link, so I would need to remove that and have the correct control arm mounts welded in
  • We don't actually KNOW anything about the axle. The gears look good in the pumpkin is the extent of our knowledge
  • I have fresh u-joints, ball joints, & chromoly axles in my front already (e.g. wasted investment)
  • It's gonna be more expensive than just re-gearing the 30 I already have
  • Needs new rotors, not sure what else on the brakes needs attention.
  • Will I need a new driveshaft too?

Having written all that out, seems like just sticking with the 30 is the better option. But maybe the 44 is life changing? I would say our wheeling is mainly rocks and stuff, but that can mean different things to different people. If you're from the TX/OK area, then you know what I mean. I don't know how that compares to out west or anywhere else. So really I need help assessing if this 44 has too much circumstance to be worth it, and/or if there is a price where it makes sense given all that.
 

rhanna

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This is something that I can't stop looking for my jeep. I have a dana 30 with chromoly shafts and lunchbox locker on 35" tires. So I should be good for as long as I want.

I'm going to guess that he has the ford dana 44 since it's high pinion and has lockout hubs. I wonder if it still has the wedges that the ford came with and that's why its 3-linked (I don't know if that's possible). Is it 5 or 8 lug? I think the f250s had leaf springs and had thicker tubes.

The most desirable ones are 1976-77 f150 or 1978-1979 f250.
https://www.blueovaltrucks.com/tech-articles/dana-44-solid-front-axle/

I'm 99% sure Nate has this front axle unless he's replace it. He's wheeled the crap out of it even on 39/40" tires.
https://www.youtube.com/c/DirtLifestyle

I think the biggest questions are
1) Would it be easier/more desirable to keep it 3-link and change the jeep or change the axle back to factory
2) What's the width and lug pattern/ would you be happy with that much width?
3) Would you be happy with 4.56? You'd have to regear your rear axle or swap out the dana 60 (now that I think about it, I think the f250's came with dana 60 in the rear) so I would assume it's 8-lug. I believe it's full float also so even better. The only downside is, I don't know how low those axles sit.
4)what size tires do you have? The problem is you need bigger tires for ground clearance but then the gearing isn't as desirable.
 
OP
hear

hear

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It's 5x5.4 lug pattern. I'm going to 4.56 anyway, so the question is do I get an axle that already has it or pay to have it done? I'm on 33's today, but will be on 35's one day (I have a 32RH). The 60 is set up for leafs for the Cherokee so it's not really even on my radar. The 3-link looks to be something of a DIY, I'm not interested in going that route. Changing it back to factory appears to be a simple matter of having the missing mount welded back on. The lower mounts look factory, and the upper mount doesn't look OEM but it's top of the diff in more or less the right place.
 

rhanna

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It's 5x5.4 lug pattern. I'm going to 4.56 anyway, so the question is do I get an axle that already has it or pay to have it done? I'm on 33's today, but will be on 35's one day (I have a 32RH). The 60 is set up for leafs for the Cherokee so it's not really even on my radar. The 3-link looks to be something of a DIY, I'm not interested in going that route. Changing it back to factory appears to be a simple matter of having the missing mount welded back on. The lower mounts look factory, and the upper mount doesn't look OEM but it's top of the diff in more or less the right place.

Is your dana 44 factory, just asking for width? It might still be the f250 axle with f150 outer parts swapped in which I've heard is the only difference in the width between the 2.
f250 width about 69 and f150 width about 65 assuming it hasn't been shortened. You'll have to get new wheels also.

Many will say it isn't worth it given your 33 and possible 35 inch tires. I'd add up the costs going both routes and try really hard to figure if I wanted to stay with 35 or not.
 
OP
hear

hear

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Not enough bang for the buck..what problem are you looking to fix using the dana 30?

Not looking to solve any specific problem, other than likely the same sort of things Jeep was trying to solve when they made the decision to put the 44 in the front of the Rubicons.
 

P man

Keister Bunny
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Not looking to solve any specific problem, other than likely the same sort of things Jeep was trying to solve when they made the decision to put the 44 in the front of the Rubicons.

Just keep your 30 and let someone else inherit that can of worms
 
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hear

hear

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You're trying to solve a marketing ploy to sell your Jeep? 🤣

lol. I've never seen so much indifference to a dana 44 on a jeep forum before. If it weren't in my buddy's garage I wouldn't have even put it up for consideration. Maybe I should put a Savvy sticker on the housing. :p
 
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cpwolf

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lol. I've never seen so much indifference to a dana 44 on a jeep forum before. If it weren't in my buddy's garage I wouldn't have even put it up for consideration. Maybe I should put a Savvy sticker on the housing. :p

That’s pretty funny.

I think what I see the sentiment as, if you have a 30 with Chromoly shafts, what are you gaining really, many on this site say that a Dana 30 front can handle the 35’s you have.

Now, rehearing and this gets you halfway, that’s a financial breakdown it seems to me. But also what problems it could cause or grief to do
 
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Mike_H

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lol. I've never seen so much indifference to a dana 44 on a jeep forum before. If it weren't in my buddy's garage I wouldn't have even put it up for consideration. Maybe I should put a Savvy sticker on the housing. :p

There is a little bit of "meh" when you start talking about a front Dana 44 in a TJ. Everyone says that they must be good, because the Rubicon's came with them. However, Jeep did a little marketing dance with the Dana 44 in a Rubicon...Its a Dana 44 center section...with Tubes and inner c's, knuckles, bearings and ball joints from a Dana 30. So...is it really a Dana 44? Personally, I'd rather have a HP Dana 30 from a Cherokee for my 35's.

The mid 70's F150 Dana 44, with 3" tubes, locking hubs, disc brakes, etc can be a pretty stout front axle, but most people, when facing the amount of work it would take to swap it in, just go for the Dana 60 at that point. That's also why if you're building for 37's, you might as well build for 40's. 37's are a tough tire size...
 

Necro

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The difference between an LPD30 and HPD44 on a TJ will mainly be the gear set, and getting the u-joint up and out of the rocks a few inches. You will gain gear set strength which will allow for more aggressive throttle, but the axle shafts, steering, ball joints, U-joints etc will basically be the same as the Dana 30 since the Jeep Dana 30 is basically the same outers as the Dana 44 anyways. Unless you're already breaking ring and pinions the only improvement you will see is the pinion is up out of the rocks a bit more, the improved driveshaft angle, and the locking hubs. Those are all good reasons if you need them.

The axle you're describing is a good axle for someone who knows how to weld, can do all of the work themselves, and has access to a good stock of old left over parts. It would be a great axle to build just for fun, or maybe as a learning experience. Or to piece together a tough truck racer where the budget is in the basement level, and parts are beg borrowed or stolen etc and only have to last 1 day.

IMO a Cherokee HPD30 take out would be a better option. You could reuse most of anything you have already bought to improve your existing axle except for the gear set, and you said you plan on upgrading that anyways. For only running 35" tires I would go the HPD30 route. I actually had great luck with an HPD30 running 37's and wheeling the piss out of my Jeep but 37's are a bastard tire size... to small for the big axles, and to big for the small axles depending on where or how you wheel your Jeep.

Just my .02 You could also just buy the axle and have it in the garage for a future project... if the price is right... nobody says you have to install it right away, you could buy it, research your options, and decide to either keep it or resell it at a later time. It might be worth picking up just to grab the lockout hub set up off of it since you said it's already set up for 5 on 4.5 with locking hubs.
 
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hear

hear

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Wel my hope is that he uses the 44 because he wants the 3 link. That would allow me to get his HP30. That’s been the plan all along but he recently started having some second thoughts, which is why I went down this path of figuring out what makes sense for me.
 

97TJNM

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Just one guy's perspective: I went the route of buying a set of Dana 44s from another guy's Rubicon (he went to tons) and installing them in my jeep. They were geared to 4.88 and had lockers. They were also set up for crossover steering.

First, I was told but didn't verify that it had an ARB in the rear and an Eaton E-locker in the front. The rear did have an ARB but the front had a stock Rubicon locker. Not the end of the world, but not accurate to what I was told.

Second, whoever set the gears up did kinda a shit job. My rear was acceptable, but the front is way too shallow and I have diff whine. I know I'm going to have to eventually get new gears in the front and I'll probably throw an ARB locker in the front at that point.

Third, changing the crossover steering was a huge pain in the ass that required buying new brackets, cutting off all the old shit, tons of grinding, welding, repainting, new knuckles (I wanted a Big Brake Kit for 35s by that point so that at least was going to be a sunk cost anyway) etc.

Now, my initial plan for my jeep was to do a "mild" build with about a 2 inch lift, 4.10 gearing, and 31's. Buying those axles and getting them fitted essentially pushed me in the direction of 35's and all that entails. Over 9k later, I have a really cool (in my opinion anyway) rig that I really love driving and wheeling, but my recommendation (from direct experience) is that unless you are trying to solve a specific problem, DON'T open that can of worms. It's a frikkin money pit!🤣
 

NashvilleTJ

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Just one guy's perspective: I went the route of buying a set of Dana 44s from another guy's Rubicon (he went to tons) and installing them in my jeep. They were geared to 4.88 and had lockers. They were also set up for crossover steering.

First, I was told but didn't verify that it had an ARB in the rear and an Eaton E-locker in the front. The rear did have an ARB but the front had a stock Rubicon locker. Not the end of the world, but not accurate to what I was told.

Second, whoever set the gears up did kinda a shit job. My rear was acceptable, but the front is way too shallow and I have diff whine. I know I'm going to have to eventually get new gears in the front and I'll probably throw an ARB locker in the front at that point.

Third, changing the crossover steering was a huge pain in the ass that required buying new brackets, cutting off all the old shit, tons of grinding, welding, repainting, new knuckles (I wanted a Big Brake Kit for 35s by that point so that at least was going to be a sunk cost anyway) etc.

Now, my initial plan for my jeep was to do a "mild" build with about a 2 inch lift, 4.10 gearing, and 31's. Buying those axles and getting them fitted essentially pushed me in the direction of 35's and all that entails. Over 9k later, I have a really cool (in my opinion anyway) rig that I really love driving and wheeling, but my recommendation (from direct experience) is that unless you are trying to solve a specific problem, DON'T open that can of worms. It's a frikkin money pit!🤣

Why did you wind up pulling the crossover, was it giving you problems, or was it set up badly?