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Old 09-23-2015, 10:40 AM
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Lockers and axle upgrade questions

I am wanting to beef up my axles a little and add lockers.

I am pretty new to all of this so all advice would be greatly appreciated.

I have a 2011 JKU Sport w/ manual trans. I've been told that there are a couple of things you NEED if you plan on off roading...which i do. (that's what Jeeps are for, right?)

I have the winch, tires (315/70/17), 2.5" Lift....

Okay, so I have been told that LOCKERS make the world of difference. So I want some. I don't want to put too much money into my stock axles because one day i'd like to swap them out. I have the D30 in the front and D44 rear.

I've been looking at Spartan Lockers. The price is VERY appealing. but i do have some questions:

Is there a preference on which axle to do first?

Do I NEED to upgrade to Chromoly axle shafts when I put the lockers on? What will this benefit?

Is there anything else that you recommend for a NEED for off-roading?

I am not ashamed to admit I know very little about this stuff, but I gotta start somewhere.......

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Old 09-23-2015, 03:41 PM   #2
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I would say you don't NEED any of that.
C gussets and sleeves on your front axle would be higher priority with 35's.
For the rest it really depends on what type of wheeling you plan on doing, lockers are nice and will definitely make many obstacles easier but they are far from necessary for anything but extreme articulation scenarios with tires off the ground.
As for axle shafts they generally aren't needed with 35's, stock shafts usually hold up fine. Of you plan on upgrading in the future (especially the front) then I would avoid spending money now by just doing sleeves and gussets

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Old 09-23-2015, 04:46 PM   #3
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^^^ That!

Get comfortable with what your rig can do now. Once your skill level or trail selection outgrows your rig, then look at upgrades.

EDIT: Don't forget to upgrade the ball joints too.


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Old 09-23-2015, 06:53 PM   #4
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Sleeves, Gussets are nice and ball joints for sure. If you wanted to go with a inexpensive locker option you could try a lunchbox one (Aussie/Spartan/etc). I have a Aussie locker in the front and limited slip factory in the rear. Performs awesome. It's an automatic locker, so in 2WD you don't notice it unless you're making tight parking lot turns (it clicks a bit). Other than that it's pretty normal. Love it on the trails for sure and have had it 4 years w/o issue.
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Old 09-23-2015, 08:32 PM   #5
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What kind of trails do you offroad on? I would definitely reinforce the D30 - gussets and sleeve or truss as step 1. Step 2, with a 2011 and if 315s are 35s you have a bit of a conundrum. You need to regear and you want lockers - makes no sense to do this on a D30 unless a) you have a lot of money or b) intend to run it until it breaks rather than swap it out. A good enough driver can do some pretty great things open/open with enough skill and picking the right line. I would do ARB or selectable locker in the rear and regear if you plan on keeping the D30 any length of time.

Do not bother with things like axle shafts and ball joints and the like until you get symptoms they are starting to go or they actually break.
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Old 09-23-2015, 10:57 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by jlovett06 View Post
I am not ashamed to admit I know very little about this stuff, but I gotta start somewhere.......
Start here: The Basics of Differentials and Lockers

I tried to be as unbiased as I could when explaining the pros and cons of the various types of lockers.

Price is often a motivating factor but be careful choosing the lowest bidder because you often get what you pay for.

One thing that is probably more important than the lockers is to get the gears in the axles (yes, you have to do both at the same time) to match the change in tire size. This is why: Regearing Basics

Beyond that, you have to determine how hard you're going to hit the trails and plan your build accordingly.

The harder the trails you want to do, the more you need to invest in beefing up (or replacing) your axles.

It would probably be a good idea to spend time on mild to moderate trails for several months to a year or more learning how to drive a stock-ish Jeep off road. First, that develops your driving skill because the Jeep doesn't do it all for you. Second, it gives you time to figure out what you like doing and what you don't like. Third, it helps you figure out from first hand experience what you really want to do to modify your Jeep for the driving you want to do. Fourth, it gives you time to save up money to put towards the upgrades you really want.
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Old 09-23-2015, 11:43 PM   #7
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My father has a 1993 wrangler with a Dana 30 in the front and a 35 in the rear, it has ARB lockers in both with 35" tires. His jeep has run almost all of the trails in Moab including Pritchett with out breaking axels or ball joints, it has more to do with technique than anything else. You can break any jeep if you use the skinny pedel incorrectly. I wouldn't be afraid of running the Dana 30.
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Old 09-23-2015, 11:49 PM   #8
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My father has a 1993 wrangler with a Dana 30 in the front and a 35 in the rear, it has ARB lockers in both with 35" tires. His jeep has run almost all of the trails in Moab including Pritchett with out breaking axels or ball joints, it has more to do with technique than anything else. You can break any jeep if you use the skinny pedel incorrectly. I wouldn't be afraid of running the Dana 30.
The axle tubes and inner steering knuckles on the newer D30's is weaker than it was in the past and more prone to breaking. On the other hand, the axle shafts and ujoints, along with the gears themselves on the older D30's are weaker than the newer ones.

Seems like they upgrade and downgrade parts over the years and I can't figure out why.
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Old 09-23-2015, 11:59 PM   #9
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I wasn't aware that there was a difference in manufacturing from the old to the new, I still wouldn't be afraid of a 30 especially if it was reinforced.
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Old 09-24-2015, 07:35 AM   #10
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Dana made several small changes over the years but did a huge redesign for the JK.
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Old 09-24-2015, 10:04 AM
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Start here: The Basics of Differentials and Lockers

I tried to be as unbiased as I could when explaining the pros and cons of the various types of lockers.

Price is often a motivating factor but be careful choosing the lowest bidder because you often get what you pay for.

One thing that is probably more important than the lockers is to get the gears in the axles (yes, you have to do both at the same time) to match the change in tire size. This is why: Regearing Basics

Beyond that, you have to determine how hard you're going to hit the trails and plan your build accordingly.

The harder the trails you want to do, the more you need to invest in beefing up (or replacing) your axles.

It would probably be a good idea to spend time on mild to moderate trails for several months to a year or more learning how to drive a stock-ish Jeep off road. First, that develops your driving skill because the Jeep doesn't do it all for you. Second, it gives you time to figure out what you like doing and what you don't like. Third, it helps you figure out from first hand experience what you really want to do to modify your Jeep for the driving you want to do. Fourth, it gives you time to save up money to put towards the upgrades you really want.
GREAT info here! Thank you so much. I believe the route I am going to go is Spartan Lockers and possibly upgrading the axle shafts for my stock axles. (for now)

I will probably be hitting the trails 2-3 times a month... I would love to be able to go more but the closest place that i've found to go is an hour away....
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Old 09-29-2015, 10:17 AM   #12
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Great advice on the forum!

One thing I might add, check the spline count on the after market axle shafts, with an auto locker you need to maintain the stock spline count, the higher after market spline axles won't fit into an open carrier.
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Old 09-29-2015, 10:56 AM   #13
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do NOT put an auto locker in the REAR (front is OK), the reason is it will cause the ESP to go into limp mode. in the REAR use only an LSD or a selectable locker. also agree with above, drive it for a year and learn your Jeep, it will help save money and keep you from doing it twice.
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Old 09-29-2015, 11:12 AM   #14
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the 2012 and newer JK's with an Automatic Transmission can't run an auto locker in the rear. Manual transmissions are OK to run auto lockers.
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Old 09-29-2015, 11:23 AM   #15
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the 2012 and newer JK's with an Automatic Transmission can't run an auto locker in the rear. Manual transmissions are OK to run auto lockers.
What happens with a 12 or newer and an automatic???? Just curious as I had not heard this before.
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Old 09-29-2015, 11:45 AM   #16
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The traction control computer will place the vehicle into limp mode when you make your first turn. There are ways to bypass this system, but that hack will void the OEM warranty.
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Old 10-07-2015, 03:04 AM   #17
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Hello all, I am quite new to the Jeep community, fresh off the Subie scene. I found a great deal on a 07 Wrangler Unlimited Sahara. It had 37s on it when I purchased it (which I promptly changed to a 33" equivalent Cooper) I noticed that the passenger front tire has a slight bit of camber. Im going to try an alignment and new ball joint, but I've been thinking about replacing the d30 on the front with a 44. Is there a good step by step on how to and supplies needed. I currently have the d44 3.21. Should I regear the rear to something different (planning on running 33s) and get the similar gearing front or try to build a d44 front in 3.21 if possible? I would like to do a junkyard build.
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Old 10-07-2015, 10:11 AM   #18
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Hello all, I am quite new to the Jeep community, fresh off the Subie scene. I found a great deal on a 07 Wrangler Unlimited Sahara. It had 37s on it when I purchased it (which I promptly changed to a 33" equivalent Cooper) I noticed that the passenger front tire has a slight bit of camber. Im going to try an alignment and new ball joint, but I've been thinking about replacing the d30 on the front with a 44. Is there a good step by step on how to and supplies needed. I currently have the d44 3.21. Should I regear the rear to something different (planning on running 33s) and get the similar gearing front or try to build a d44 front in 3.21 if possible? I would like to do a junkyard build.
Easiest way to go would be to find a dana 44 from a rubicon (which likely already has 4.10 gears) then simply regear your existing rear to match.
4.10 would be a good match with 33's and leave you a bit of room to go to a slightly larger tire and still drive well.
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Old 10-09-2015, 01:37 AM   #19
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What is the fair price to pay for a used d44 rubicon front? I don't need the heavy duty rock crawling equipment, I have a 100 mile commute on Wyoming roads which is why I purchased a jeep. That being said is there a good brand of gearing that I should look at for purchase?
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Old 10-09-2015, 04:22 PM   #20
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What is the fair price to pay for a used d44 rubicon front? I don't need the heavy duty rock crawling equipment, I have a 100 mile commute on Wyoming roads which is why I purchased a jeep. That being said is there a good brand of gearing that I should look at for purchase?
Good luck with that, JK D44 front Rubicon diffs are highly sought after. Because of that they tend to go for a premium.
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Old 10-09-2015, 04:27 PM   #21
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Good luck with that, JK D44 front Rubicon diffs are highly sought after. Because of that they tend to go for a premium.
Which is weird because outside the differential itself, the rest of the axle is pretty weak and for not much more money you can get an aftermarket D44 that's significantly stronger.
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Old 10-09-2015, 05:33 PM   #22
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That being said is there a good brand of gearing that I should look at for purchase?
Most name brand gears are manufactured in India or Korea. They are often made in the same facility and just boxed under different names. So choose the brand/price/warranty you like the best.

Revolution Gear is a good overall brand and 2 year warranty.

Revolution Dana Gear Sets

Good luck and happy shopping.

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Old 10-09-2015, 08:54 PM   #23
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Good luck with that, JK D44 front Rubicon diffs are highly sought after. Because of that they tend to go for a premium.
Really varies by location... locally I've seen pairs of rubicon axles go for as low as $2000... $1000 a piece is more than reasonable in my eyes.

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