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Old 05-19-2010, 08:14 PM   #1
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Differential Help

So my rear differential is making a low grinding noise. I believe it's a Dana 35 (has a rubber drain plug), on a 2.5L, 5 speed. I am by no means a mechanic, but I can definitely do most jobs, I just did a head gasket not too long ago.

Anyway, I have seen lots of posts about when people want to change their gearing ratio, and others recommend just changing the gears, making it sound like it is an easy job.

My question is, am I better off trying to replace the bad gears despite the fact that I have never messed with a differential, or just buying a differential from a junk yard?

Thanks in advance for any help,
Russ

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Old 05-19-2010, 09:06 PM   #2
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First thing to do is open up the diff and find out what is grinding...might not need to replace anything.

*watch out when you take the cover off, all the juices come flowing out. Also, to better enjoy the experience, inhale deeply. You'll never forget it

As to reworking gear sets, I'd say it is really not for the faint of heart...especially for those that have never done it. It can be rather trying and a royal pain to get everything spot on. I did mine (Dana 60 and a 14 Bolt) just to get the experience but doubt I'll do it again.

That being said, the absolute best source that I found is -> here <-

For those that have never read one of his articles, Bill Ansell ("BilaVista") writes some of the most complete tech articles I've ever come across. This article covers the Dana 60, but can be applied to any Dana axle. (If you have a 14b, click -> here <-)

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Old 05-19-2010, 09:09 PM   #3
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Replacing the gears properly so they last more than a few miles involves a long tedious setup process that requires experience and special tools. Few mechanics will mess with replacing ring & pinion gears, you are much better off buying a replacement Dana 35c axle from a junkyard. Make sure it is from a '97 or newer TJ with the 2.5L engine so you get the same axle ratio (4.10) that you have now and that its mounting brackets match up. A Dana 35c from anything older than a '97 won't fit.
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Old 05-19-2010, 09:25 PM   #4
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Jerry Said it! just replace the axle. I changed my gear ratio recently and just found a front and rear matched set. I gave 400 for the set, but in most cases everyone would consider the front d30 worth more than a 35. also keep in mind if you ever plan on an ford 8.8 or dana 44 NOW is the Time!
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Old 05-20-2010, 10:25 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rketr View Post
First thing to do is open up the diff and find out what is grinding...might not need to replace anything.

*watch out when you take the cover off, all the juices come flowing out. Also, to better enjoy the experience, inhale deeply. You'll never forget it

As to reworking gear sets, I'd say it is really not for the faint of heart...especially for those that have never done it. It can be rather trying and a royal pain to get everything spot on. I did mine (Dana 60 and a 14 Bolt) just to get the experience but doubt I'll do it again.

That being said, the absolute best source that I found is -> here <-

For those that have never read one of his articles, Bill Ansell ("BilaVista") writes some of the most complete tech articles I've ever come across. This article covers the Dana 60, but can be applied to any Dana axle. (If you have a 14b, click -> here <-)
When you say that I might not need to replace anything, are you saying that the differential can be grinding without having to replace parts? What else would I be looking for?

Thanks,
Russ
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Old 05-20-2010, 10:28 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Bransford View Post
Replacing the gears properly so they last more than a few miles involves a long tedious setup process that requires experience and special tools. Few mechanics will mess with replacing ring & pinion gears, you are much better off buying a replacement Dana 35c axle from a junkyard. Make sure it is from a '97 or newer TJ with the 2.5L engine so you get the same axle ratio (4.10) that you have now and that its mounting brackets match up. A Dana 35c from anything older than a '97 won't fit.

My main concern with buying one from a junkyard is spending half the day under my jeep installing the new diff just to find out that it's also bad. I guess it looks like I am just going to have to chance it.

My father who knows a LITTLE bit more about differentials, says he thinks it is probably the spider gears, does that make any difference if it isn't the ring and pinion gears?

Thanks for all the help!!
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Old 05-20-2010, 10:31 AM   #7
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Dunno...thats why I would open it first

I always prefer to find the problem before running out and replacing stuff. Probly does need to be done, but dunno till you inspect it.
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Old 05-20-2010, 10:40 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zerokoo149 View Post
My main concern with buying one from a junkyard is spending half the day under my jeep installing the new diff just to find out that it's also bad. I guess it looks like I am just going to have to chance it.

My father who knows a LITTLE bit more about differentials, says he thinks it is probably the spider gears, does that make any difference if it isn't the ring and pinion gears?

Thanks for all the help!!
First, I would suspect nearly any Dana 35c found in a junkyard would be in ok condition. Most TJs are never put into hardcore wheeling enviornment that would damage it.

Your dad very well could be right about it being the spider gears. If those are bad, they are actually fairly easily replaced without the setup need of the ring & pinion gears. So it's probably worth a look-see inside the axle.
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Old 05-20-2010, 10:51 AM   #9
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First, I would suspect nearly any Dana 35c found in a junkyard would be in ok condition. Most TJs are never put into hardcore wheeling enviornment that would damage it.

Your dad very well could be right about it being the spider gears. If those are bad, they are actually fairly easily replaced without the setup need of the ring & pinion gears. So it's probably worth a look-see inside the axle.
I know that the next thing I need to do is open up the diff, so I am aware that I am getting a little ahead of myself here. However, I have 2 questions.

1. If I have the rubber drain plug, is my diff definitely the Dana 35? I don't see any markings on the diff to otherwise indentify it.
2. If it ends up being bad spider gears, are they universal, or do I have to know more information to get them replaced?

Thanks!!
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Old 05-20-2010, 11:33 AM   #10
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The rubber plug definitely indicates a Dana 35c. Spider gears made for a Dana 35c are universal for a Dana 35c axle. If they are bad, I wouldn't be surprised if one or more of your local 4x4 shops wouldn't have a box or two of used but perfectly good (cheap) spider gears they removed to install a locker.
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Old 05-22-2010, 12:01 PM   #11
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Ok, I just opened up the differential and everything seems to look fine. All the gears on the spider gears and the ring and pinion are there, with not too much wear. I didn't find anything metal at the bottom of the differential either.

The only thing I noticed is that the gear oil is FILTHY!! What else should I be looking for?

Thanks,
Russ
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Old 05-22-2010, 12:02 PM   #12
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I mean teeth on the spider gears and ring and pinion are there.
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Old 05-22-2010, 12:11 PM   #13
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If it's not the gears making the grinding noise then I'd have to suspect one of the bearings needs replacement. Time to get a shop involved.
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Old 05-22-2010, 12:15 PM   #14
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I don't think I've ever brought a car to a shop to have work done before, so I can't even phathom what I'd be talking about as far as pricing.

So does it make more sense financially to replace the rear end myself with one from a junkyard, or to bring the jeep to a shop to fix the bearing issue?
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Old 05-22-2010, 12:22 PM   #15
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Ask a 4x4 shop how much to install a master rebuild kit which is just a new set of bearings. Probably $250.
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Old 05-22-2010, 01:17 PM   #16
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Ok, I appreciate all of the help. I have just one more set of questions, and then I think I'm done.

1. I put everything back together, and took it for a ride. The noise was WAY quieter, although still there. Since the old fluid was so dirty, and now it has clean fluid, is that a further indicator of the bearing? I have only had the jeep for a few weeks, but by the looks of it, I don't think the previous owner ever changed the fluid.

2. I can't borrow another car for about a week. Since we think it's the bearing, do I need to be worried about the differential locking up while I drive it this week, or should I be ok? I drive about 60 miles a day.

Thanks again for all of the help.
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Old 05-22-2010, 01:29 PM   #17
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I think for a week you will be okay.. however if the sounds gets louder I would park it. I am sure some others will chime in.

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