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Old 05-21-2019, 07:04 AM
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Differential Cover.... Really?

As new gears are going into the Jeep, I wonder how many folks blow money on differential covers never really needing them. Are they just pretty advertising for manufacturers or have folks actually peeled one back in recent years? For that matter, have any true damage to your external differentials?

If you do have one.... Is a $200 one that much better than a $100?

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Old 05-21-2019, 07:15 AM   #2
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Upgraded diffs are not really needed if you will only be driving on the dirt roads, streets and mall parking lots. This is what most folks do. I too wondered the same thing. I went with Ruff Stuff diff covers and am very glad I did. I only run 2.5" lift and my diff both front and back (mostly the front) have taken some really hard hits. Scratched by not dented. If you rock crawl it is very cheap insurance IMO.
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Old 05-21-2019, 07:18 AM   #3
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I have them. One Poison Spider and one Fab Fours that was a gift.

Iíd say they are both rugged but the Fab Fours is welded plate steel and the PS is cast.

I put them on for piece of mind. I didnít want to be off-road somewhere remote and have to worry about the flimsy stock covers getting busted. The stock covers are very thin.

I personally think a cheaper aftermarket cover is fine for occasional trail use and hunting.


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Old 05-21-2019, 07:31 AM   #4
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With the type of crawling over rocks I do, I really should replace mine. The front stock one is fine and I guess I've lucked out with the rear. It has been dragged over rocks and luckily, only peeled back about 2 mm on the bottom. It's also clearly been ground down by being dragged over rocks. I check it closely and the seal has not been affected, so I'm not changing it yet. I upgrade little by little and am not spending money where it's not for the absolute most needed next upgrade. I guess what I should do is get under there with a cutoff wheel and just cut 1/16" so it isn't right in the path to be peeled back. (likely what I will do). $0 is best in my book.
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Old 05-21-2019, 09:32 AM   #5
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I've banged up my front OEM cover on rocks, not enough to cause gear damage but enough to scare me into buying a PS diff cover.

Then I peeled off the lip of the rear one on another rock, again got lucky not to lose gear oil on the trail, but on went another PS cover.

I think the risk of losing oil is greater than the risk of banging the gears themselves.
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Old 05-21-2019, 09:47 AM   #6
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I upgraded mine when I regeared and added a locker. I figured $200 bucks is cheap insurance compared to what I just spent


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Old 05-21-2019, 09:52 AM   #7
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I've fixed quite a few peeled back diff covers over the years. It's far less common but I've seen factory diff covers pushed into the ring gear by impacts to rocks and tree stumps.

Aftermarket diff covers are a good idea all around. Not only do they keep you from peeling back the cover and leaking out all your oil, they protect the gears if you actually hit a big stump or a rock. Beyond that, they add rigidity to the differential housing. That extra rigidity reduces case flex (the primary cause of gear failure).

While I'm sure you could do a scientific study to show which covers are better than others, the simple fact is that any aftermarket HD cover is way better than the flimsy stock cover. Doesn't matter really if it's steel or aluminum. They're all better than the stock cover.

As far as cost, I don't feel the need to spend $200 on a fancy cover with a brand logo in it when I can spend $100 on a cheap one. But I can see why people want one that's more expensive to get the look they want or stay with a brand they like.

And, of course, no discussion of diff covers would be complete without suggesting that you put a LubeLocker brand gasket on when you install it. Going on 6 years with mine and not a hint of a drip anywhere. People who use RTV and/or other inferior gaskets always leak sooner or later.
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Old 05-21-2019, 09:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdeslandes View Post
I've banged up my front OEM cover on rocks, not enough to cause gear damage but enough to scare me into buying a PS diff cover.

Then I peeled off the lip of the rear one on another rock, again got lucky not to lose gear oil on the trail, but on went another PS cover.

I think the risk of losing oil is greater than the risk of banging the gears themselves.
This^^^^^. Peeled the rear cover back first time out. Lost nearly a pint of gear oil before I got home. The front got an indentation a bit bigger than a golf ball and it started to leak slightly also. Changed to Poison Spider and I keep beating the paint off them both but they sure don't leak. I prefer the permatex gear oil gasket maker over any gasket also.
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:24 AM   #9
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Peeled oem rear cover soon after I got the jeep. Said heck with that and put on front and rear ps covers. They are scratched now but not damaged or leaking. As said earlier cheap insurance!
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:26 AM   #10
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I just had 4:88s installed this week and the installer and I learned a lesson with the teraflex cover. I opted to go with the teraflex cover since my stock cover was looking a bit ugly.. And tf is nice looking for a hundy. The problem that was encountered was the 2 fill holes with one that is obviously way high. The installer filled to the bottom hole.. No Bueno. Oil doesn't even make it to the axle bearings at that level. Yea, it didn't make it around block before the axle bearings began screaming bloody murder! New bearings and seals.. Again. An oversight on both of our parts.
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:28 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Shadowmaker View Post
As new gears are going into the Jeep, I wonder how many folks blow money on differential covers never really needing them. Are they just pretty advertising for manufacturers or have folks actually peeled one back in recent years? For that matter, have any true damage to your external differentials?

If you do have one.... Is a $200 one that much better than a $100?
I have both peeled up the lip on a front, and punched a hole in the back reversing into a sharp rock while adjusting my line. The stock ones are not thick, you can bend them with pliers. You can pick up 2 poison spider bombshell diff covers for under $200. I remember paying $90 for my first and then around Christmas $65 for the second. If you ask in the quotes thread of the vendor section, I am sure someone will give you a good deal.

https://www.wranglerforum.com/f123/v...s-1732442.html

I like the PS ones because of the shape(more rounded), yes they are cast but 1/2" thick cast is no joke. (and they look cool, that was a bonus) One alternative is a diff skid that integrates a lower diff guard and adds pinion protection, but you loose a little clearance.
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:49 AM   #12
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Like with most things on my JK,,, I see, I want, I buy.
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:12 AM   #13
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I still run stock covers but I run the Rough Country diff sliders - one of the best things I have put on my Jeep.
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:13 AM   #14
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--snip--

I think the risk of losing oil is greater than the risk of banging the gears themselves.
Truth!
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:47 AM   #15
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I too had my stock rear diff cover peel back on the trail. It wasn't bad enough to spill out but it leaked out about a quarter quart in the week it took me to replace. I ended up going with the poison spyder cover since it was a good price and maintained the factory fill hole height.

The poison spyder also sits just above the diff housing so i doubt it could peel back.
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:49 AM   #16
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Tore my rear stock diff cover open last weekend. Had to pound the bottom lip flat with a sledge to make it home. Already installed a poison Spyder diff cover. Cost about $90.
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Old 05-21-2019, 12:02 PM   #17
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I still run stock covers but I run the Rough Country diff sliders - one of the best things I have put on my Jeep.
^^Yup. My Rancho sliders got a workout last weekend in the rock gardens we went through. And Mommy & I stayed on the trail with most of the crew instead of going down into the washes with the truly crazy folks.
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Old 05-21-2019, 12:03 PM   #18
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Old 05-21-2019, 12:06 PM   #19
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Everything on the bottom of my jeep is scraped. It looks like a warzone down there.
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Old 05-21-2019, 02:19 PM   #20
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Diff covers add strength to the housing structure to help prevent gear deflection. You know how easy it is to flex the housing with a diff spreader to aid in installing the preloaded carrier. Well that same spread can happen with the force of the gears against each other. Installing a quality diff cover can minimize that as well as add the extra strike protection and of course no more peeling diff cover lip..
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Old 05-21-2019, 02:44 PM   #21
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Diff covers add strength to the housing structure to help prevent gear deflection. You know how easy it is to flex the housing with a diff spreader to aid in installing the preloaded carrier. Well that same spread can happen with the force of the gears against each other. Installing a quality diff cover can minimize that as well as add the extra strike protection and of course no more peeling diff cover lip..

I am not sure with the slop in the bolt holes and a nice lube locker gasket that the diff case can't flex a few ten thousands of an inch. Has there been any real testing by people other than those selling them?
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Old 05-21-2019, 05:10 PM   #22
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I am not sure with the slop in the bolt holes and a nice lube locker gasket that the diff case can't flex a few ten thousands of an inch. Has there been any real testing by people other than those selling them?
I'm trying to think of a way to test that and I am drawing a blank. Might be a way to do it by retrofitting the housing with mount points for some calipers. To ensure consistent measurements.
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:12 PM   #23
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So, really, you should never hit your diffs, as that is the lowest point of clearance under the rig, and a weak point as all have noted. Any line through an obstacle should be routed to keep the tires going over the high spots keeping the vulnerable diff up out of harms way.
The reality is, stuff happens... you slip off rocks/logs, spin a little off line, or you're in water/mud and simply cannot account for the unseen... sometimes that puts you in line with something you've already discounted, now forgot, and/or need to reverse having not planned for this new/unintentional line... and all of these unintended circumstances lead to... smack...
Unlike bumpers/skids/sliders no one intentionally uses the diff guard as a means to clear an obstacle... it's insurance against the inevitable for those that wheel challenging terrain...
$100 vs $200... my favorites are made by RuffStuff... about as beefy as you are going to find regarding protection... about $120... and absolutely no makings to say look at me.
I have Riddlers, because, I was dumb and did not think ahead, and that's all the shop had hanging on the wall the day the gears were going in... and I brain farted on the fact they had to open them up in a few hundred miles to inspect/change fluid.
I would prefer the RuffStuff, but do not feel the need to replace them, nor do I feel shy having one vs the other.
The $200+ ones are pretty (and if that's important to you then so be it... who doesn't want a good looking rig), and some have nifty dipsticks (saves your finger from getting smelly I guess)... as for the actual job they serve I see no need to feel under-armored.


As far as blowing money and never needing them... boy, in the modern Wrangler world there is a tonne of rigs/items all set up for just that.
Shoot, I could go down to the grocery store/mall right now and look at 6 or more lifted Wranglers with ~35's and likely armor too... without a scratch to be seen... even on the underside.
Then find a little stocker all scratched to heck with body damage too boot and a missing flare and recent trail dust littered inside and out.
It's best not to judge, and just let it be... The Wrangler is the most customized, with the largest aftermarket available... vehicle on the planet.
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Old 05-21-2019, 09:40 PM   #24
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I'm trying to think of a way to test that and I am drawing a blank. Might be a way to do it by retrofitting the housing with mount points for some calipers. To ensure consistent measurements.
I cannot speak to the testing and whatnot, but go to your local dragstrip often enough and you'll eventually see someone spit a ring gear out... most times that's going to be a vehicle with a stamped steel cover.
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Old 05-21-2019, 09:41 PM   #25
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I am not sure with the slop in the bolt holes and a nice lube locker gasket that the diff case can't flex a few ten thousands of an inch. Has there been any real testing by people other than those selling them?


It takes more then a couple thousands of a inch to get gear deflection. Gear deflection has to be enough for the gears to skip teeth. Most GOOD diff covers have pretty tight tolerances on the bolt holes. Non the less they still stop major flex on the center section. Which will always be better for the bearings carrier and axles.


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Old 05-21-2019, 10:12 PM   #26
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It takes more then a couple thousands of a inch to get gear deflection. Gear deflection has to be enough for the gears to skip teeth. Most GOOD diff covers have pretty tight tolerances on the bolt holes. Non the less they still stop major flex on the center section. Which will always be better for the bearings carrier and axles.


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It's not just the bolt hole tolerance. The flimsy factory covers flex a lot more than you think when the case flexes. This is one reason why the seal eventually starts leaking when you run factory diff covers, even with factory sealant on them.

You might get one of your HD diff covers to flex a little under tons of stress but nothing anywhere close to how much factory covers flex.
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Old 05-22-2019, 06:39 AM
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Some solid recommendations in here! Thanks everyone!
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Old 05-22-2019, 01:30 PM   #28
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@bobchase - yep. There were a lot of diff grabbers on that trail even without the hard crawling. There are days for hard crawling, and there are days for diff grabbers lol.
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Old 05-22-2019, 01:30 PM   #29
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@bobchase - yep. There were a lot of diff grabbers on that trail even without the hard crawling. There are days for hard crawling, and there are days for diff grabbers lol.
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Old 05-22-2019, 02:00 PM   #30
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Personally, I could justify the $100 per cover ones (PS Bombshell), but couldnt justify the $200 per axle ARB (even though I liked those a bit better)

Also for a completely scientific, useful comparison *sarc* - check out this 'shootout'

http://www.fourwheeler.com/how-to/tr...test/#photo-10
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