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Old 06-08-2012, 11:47 AM   #1
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2003 Rubicon Dana 44 - Rear locker in pieces

I am new to the forums and, while I have owned my TJ Rubicon for a few years, I have not gotten my hands very dirty. I took my jeep in for an oil change and when I got it back, the rear locker was engaged (in 2H). When the service center took a look, the locker was "grenaded" (in their words).

I am getting two stories at this point. One from the Jeep service center, and the other from 4 wheel parts in SLC, UT.

The jeep service center is telling me that the Dana 44 on the 2003 Rubicon is a unique axle and cannot take standard lockers. They recommend using a stock locker ($2,800 including labor) which I cannot afford. This seems like a lot of money. They are currently looking for a used axle they can get a locker from to keep the cost down.

4 wheel parts is telling me they can replace the unique parts with standard parts (ring and pinion, etc) and drop in a (Detroit) Eaton E-locker for $1,526 including labor. The Jeep service center thinks this solution will cause additional wear on the gears causing early failure due to slight mismatches between the standard parts and the unique axle and will result in more repair costs in the future.

I don't have enough experience with gears and axles to know if I am getting into future repair costs going with the standard parts swap in my axle.

Any thoughts would be very helpful. I would like to become more comfortable with my Jeep mechanically and eventually take on these projects myself.

-dave

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Old 06-08-2012, 12:14 PM   #2
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Service center is blowing OEM smoke up your ass. The only unique thing about it is the stock rubi lockers operate on very low pressure (~5psi) air. Most air lockers on the market require closer to 50psi, so you would need to install a small pump and tank to actuate it. That may be why the 4 wheel parts place suggested detroit (torque-based) or eaton (electronic) lockers.

As long as they match the front gear ratio (4.11) for the ring and pinion, you have no "additional wear" to worry about. Be aware though, that detroit torque lockers handle very differently than selectable lockers on the road and in snow.

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Old 06-08-2012, 12:17 PM   #3
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Hmmm, that is an interesting dilema.

First off, how did the locker engage in 2 high? Did you do the locker bypass mod?

Are you sure it is actually grenaded? What are the symptoms?

The ring and pinion and housing in the Rubi D44 are standard size... I don't see any reason you couldn't replace the locker with an e locker. (someone pls correct me if I'm wrong)

An ARB would require a different compressor as the OEM lockers are super low pressure.
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Old 06-08-2012, 12:38 PM   #4
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I thought the Rubicon front lockers were a better unit than the rear and you could swap in a front and have something much more reliable without too much hassle. It takes you from a LSD rear to open. Just something to look for a better replacement you may be able to source more easily off ebay or CL or even out of a local junkyard and may be cheaper than buying a new e-locker.
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Old 06-08-2012, 12:40 PM   #5
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I can't help with the locker issues but what I want to know is who engaged the locker to begin with? Did you do it before you took it in for the oil change or did they do it while it was in their possession? If it wasn't engaged when you dropped it off and it was working fine, I'd be inclined to think one of the dudes changing your oil had a little fun with your jeep. If that were the case, I'd be talking to them about how they are going to cover the cost of your locker replacement.
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Old 06-08-2012, 12:59 PM   #6
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There is no way in hell I would be paying for anything. You dropped it off with a working rear end, and picked it up with a destroyed rear. I don't know what they could have done around the service dept even with the rear engaged that would have caused that. Regardless, it happened on their watch....
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Old 06-08-2012, 01:02 PM   #7
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The Dana 44 is just a Dana 44...nothing special about the 2003. Time to find a new mechanic.
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Old 06-08-2012, 01:06 PM   #8
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Thanks for all your replies. I am still trying to figure out what to do. I will call and see what they say about the damage. There is no bypass on the lockers, and it was in 2H when I dropped it off. I don't know how lockers can get engaged if they are off to begin with.
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Old 06-08-2012, 01:08 PM   #9
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If there is no bypass, you can't engage the lockers unless you drop into 4lo. Something is going on here....
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Old 06-08-2012, 01:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SirGeorgeKillian View Post
If there is no bypass, you can't engage the lockers unless you drop into 4lo. Something is going on here....
Yep, something very weird here.

What did you notice about the Jeep? Grinding/Popping? Or just the locker light on?
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Old 06-08-2012, 03:41 PM   #11
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I talked to the shop that changed the oil and checked the diff fluid levels. They said "If we messed it up, we'll fix it." This is very encouraging. I went down to the Jeep service shop and took pictures. When I saw the fill plug, my eyes bulged. The magnet didn't only have physical marks indicating contact, it was completely destroyed. Only pieces were still attached to the plug. Of course, the fluid was full of magnet bits and metal. I took pictures of everything. I think I may be catching a break on the oil change company covering the damage. If so, I will end up with a stock locker under warranty. I'm not complaining. Here's me crossing fingers that they pay for all of it. I will get a larger diff cover and plug for them to install when it is done
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Old 06-08-2012, 03:44 PM   #12
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Things I noticed about the jeep.

1. LOUD metal pop sound. Scared the poo out of me.
2. Rear locker engaged in 2H.
3. Tires chirping on turns. Later just a lot of clicking and no more chirping.
4. Exploded magnet on fill plug.
5. Metal and magnet bits in diff fluid.
6. Severe amounts of stress.

If you are experiencing these symptoms I feel for you!
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Old 06-08-2012, 04:15 PM   #13
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Sounds like they overtightened the fill plug on your diff. If you do some research you'll find that allot of service shops have lunched rubi rearends doing that.
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Old 06-08-2012, 07:59 PM   #14
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You took it in for an oil change? Engine oil, or gear oil? Just how far did you drive the Jeep like this? You were driving on the street with the axle lock engaged?
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Old 06-08-2012, 08:16 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onebigmj
Sounds like they overtightened the fill plug on your diff. If you do some research you'll find that allot of service shops have lunched rubi rearends doing that.
Out of curiosity how does over tightening the full plug cause the rearend to do what he is describing?
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Old 06-08-2012, 08:20 PM   #16
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Out of curiosity how does over tightening the full plug cause the rearend to do what he is describing?
Because there is VERY (!!!) little clearance between the fill plug and the spinning locking differential inside. Overtightening the fill plug will drive it into the locker which can destroy it if not greatly damage it. Or at least make a screeching sound as the differential scrapes the fill plug as it spins.
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Old 06-08-2012, 09:05 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Because there is VERY (!!!) little clearance between the fill plug and the spinning locking differential inside. Overtightening the fill plug will drive it into the locker which can destroy it if not greatly damage it. Or at least make a screeching sound as the differential scrapes the fill plug as it spins.

Exactly this.
Similar thing happened to my 2003 Rubicon, dealer checked the diff fluid and then over-tightened the fill plug. Luckily, I caught it after moving only a few feet and no damage other than a destroyed magnet on the fill plug.
I then ground the fill plug magnet right off and never had another issue.

Vince
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Old 06-12-2012, 01:29 PM   #18
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I just got the call from the lube shop. The owner heard my story and his insurance will cover the repair. I am so grateful for people like him. Thank you all for the great input. I will work with the shop to see what makes the most sense for the repair. I feel like I am dreaming. I need to go meet the owner and shake his hand.
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Old 06-12-2012, 01:50 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SirGeorgeKillian View Post
If there is no bypass, you can't engage the lockers unless you drop into 4lo. Something is going on here....
So then it seems it the locker wasnt engaged, rather the internals were trashed possibly due to the plug being over-tightened? Sounded like an impossibility to me also. Like dividing by zero.

Quote:
Originally Posted by onebigmj View Post
Sounds like they overtightened the fill plug on your diff. If you do some research you'll find that allot of service shops have lunched rubi rearends doing that.
Lesson learned, own a good torque wrench, and DIY. At least that is my take away.

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2003 jeep wrangler , dana 44 , locker , rubicon axle

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