What kind of driving do I need to do to justify replacing a D35? - Jeep Wrangler Forum

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Old 05-30-2013, 09:43 PM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Daly City, Ca
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What kind of driving do I need to do to justify replacing a D35?

So I've got my DPG lift kit on the way, and will be getting 33's shortly, but I'm stuck now deciding between regearing my Dana 35 or getting an 8.8 from ECGS.
Dana 44 does not appear to be an option for me as I cannot find one anywhere within 200 miles and the ones I've found online are way more costly than the 8.8 would be.

So the question comes down to what would I need to do to blow up my D35? If this Jeep was to be 100% a pavement pounder and never see dirt would I need to be concerned about the D35? What about light trails? It seems apparent from what I've read that any type of rock crawling would not be advisable but what if I only intend to do generally light trails and very mellow mud occasionally? I do like the idea of getting the disc brakes in the back as well though.

While I'm at it, I am completely new to this 4WD thing and it seems everyone talks about swapping out the D35 rear but what about my front? Do I need to swap the entire thing or can I just regear what I have there?

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Old 05-30-2013, 11:50 PM   #2
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Personally I'm just gonna wait till I break mine (making sure I have finances to fix it if that happens). It's highly unlikely to break a D35 as a pavement pounder, but where's the fun in that?
This is the best quote from previous post to sum up reliability of a D35...

Originally Posted by Jerry Bransford View Post
33" tires on a Dana 35 axle is a crapshoot. If you add a locker, your axle shafts are toast. If you get the rear-end hopping on an obstacle, your axle shafts are toast. If you are gentle on the rear axle by staying off the stupid-pedal, you're likely ok.

But I have seen busted axle shafts on Dana 35 axles with smaller than 33" tires where the owner claimed he wasn't hammering the axle when it snapped. That's why I described 33" on a Dana 35c axle as a crapshoot.

The female body is a work of art. The male body is utilitarian. It's for gettin' around. It's like a Jeep. --ELAINE BENES, Seinfeld
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Old 05-31-2013, 06:22 AM   #3
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as long as you don't put in a locker it should be fine as a pavement pounder/light trail rider. just remember that pounding the gas isn't good for anything and is usually the cause of any driveline failure.
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Old 05-31-2013, 07:06 AM   #4
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As long as you stick to 33's or less, "generally light trails and very mellow mud" along with a intelligent right foot your D35 will hold up well. The biggest drawback to the D35 isnt really it's strength its the C-clip axle retention design. In a D35 when you do break an axle ( if you really wheel a Jeep Hard you will break an axle occasionaly D35, 44 or 8.8 it happens ) the design allows the remains of the axle/wheel and tire/brake drum to walk out of the housing making for a challenging recovery effort. It's also harder to remove the broken pieces of axle from the housing on the trail. On the D44 and 8.8 the axle is retained by the axle bearing and retainer so unless the axle breaks at or near the axle flange your tire and wheel and brakes stay intact and it's easier to get the vehicle somewhere to repair it.

I've ran my Jeep with a 4" sa lift, BFG ktm 33's, 4.56 gears and a front locker with the original ( it's a 2003 ) D35 rear end and axles for almost 10 years and only broke one axle. I don't do mud most of my wheeling is on forest trails and a few rock quarreys here in North Central Florida. I do carry a spare axle
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Old 05-31-2013, 10:33 AM   #5
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I snapped my axle shaft of flat ground running 33s not a fun day if your going to do that stay light on the skinny pedal
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Old 05-31-2013, 12:09 PM   #6
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if you are truly concerned perhaps chromoly shafts might be an option to look into.
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Old 05-31-2013, 12:12 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by flflash View Post
On the D44 and 8.8 the axle is retained by the axle bearing and retainer so unless the axle breaks at or near the axle flange your tire and wheel and brakes stay intact and it's easier to get the vehicle somewhere to repair it.
Not true...the 8.8 is a c-clip axle as well
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Old 05-31-2013, 12:17 PM   #8
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Location: Whiskey River OK
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Here is what I did. I drive the dog s!!t of of mine. no worries

Superior Super 35 Axle Kit

1998 4.0 5 speed, Superior super 35 rear, Superior super 30 front, yukon air lockers x2. 3" Terra Flex suspension lift, 1.25" BL, 1" MML Engo 9K winch, Dick Cepeck Radial F-C 33/12.5/15.
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Old 05-31-2013, 12:23 PM   #9
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The fact is that the D35 is a weak axle and will probably have issues some time in its lifetime, even as a road machine. By offroading, you only increase the possibility of it dying sooner. By punching the gas, going over hard terrain, and increasing tire size, the possibility increases even more.

If you're doing only light trails I imagine you *should* be ok for some time. But you never know... nobody can tell you how much time left on the ticker yours has left.
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Old 05-31-2013, 01:42 PM   #10
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Location: Central MS
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You can say that 33s on a D35 is a crap shoot if you start bouncing on an obstacle, but I've also seen guys bouncing on their D60s and pop an axle. If you are crazy on the trails, then anything is a crap shoot. Use your head and crawl rather than flying over the obstacles and you'll have a pretty good chance with whatever you have. If the rock is more than your rig should be able to handle, then go around. Simple.
You'd be pretty sick to upgrade to the D44, get on the trail, start bouncing from pounding the skinny pedal, and then bust your new axle. You'd most likely think someone lied to you.
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Old 05-31-2013, 07:09 PM   #11
Knows a couple things...

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Location: Escondido, Calif.
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That Ford 8.8 may not seem so cheap by the time you get it ready to bolt into your TJ. There is a lot of work to removing its old brackets & getting the new brackets welded into place properly so it can be bolted into your TJ. It's not cheap to do unless you're already pretty good fabricating/cutting/grinding/welding.

33" tires make a Dana 35 a pretty iffy axle if you get on tougher trails. It becomes downright unreliable/breakage-prone if you also install a locker. For the street, few have issues with their Dana 35c axles unless they have also installed big tires and/or lockers.

Personally, I would rather have a Dana 44 which while not common, do pop up from time to time. I replaced my '97 TJ's Dana 35 with a used Dana 44 that suddenly popped up in my local wheeling group. It bolted right in.
When you have a choice, buy American.

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Old 05-31-2013, 09:50 PM   #12
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Daly City, Ca
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Thanks guys, I appreciate the comments and discussion.

I'd definitely prefer to go down the D44 route so I will continue to keep checking and keep some money available (if possible). I'm leaning towards rolling with the D35 now until it breaks or until I find a decent deal on a rear.

Another question: If i regear my D35 for now and then switch to a D44, will I need new gears for the D44 or will I be able to swap what I have in the D35 to the D44? I'm already assuming gears for a D35 would not be compatible with an 8.8 - correct?

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