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Jeep Axle Swaps: Rear Dana 44

Rear Dana 44 '70 1/2 - '71 CJ-5

Front Swaps

Dana 44
Dana 30

Rear Swaps

Dana 60
Dana 44
Ford 9"

Jeep Axles

Factory Options

The Dana 44 is a very common axle and so it is often the least expensive axle to swap into most small Jeeps. Full size Jeeps normally come with Dana 44s or larger axles. The Dana 44 has been used in nearly every model of Jeep at one time or another, but not all of us are fortunate enough to have one. Many early Jeeps came with a Dana 44, but it use 2 piece shafts which are fairly weak.

The Dana 44 is an excellent choice of axle for CJs, XJs, YJs, MJs, ZJs, and TJs. In these relatively light vehicles the 30 spline Dana 44 with one piece shafts will hold up well to hard use. The Dana 44 doesn't compromise clearance and there are 44s that have compatible or close wheel bolt patterns. The source of Dana 44 that you swap in would depend on:

  • model of Jeep
  • desired track width
  • desired wheel bolt pattern
  • what you find ant what price

'45-'71 CJs

The CJs built from '45-'70.5 used either a Spicer 23, Dana 41, or Dana 44 with two piece shafts. The Dana 44 with two piece shafts would be an upgrade from the Spicer 23 or Dana 41. This is a common upgrade for early CJs and MBs.

The CJ-5s and CJ-6s built from '70.5-'71 used an offset Dana 44 with 30 spline one piece shafts. This axle is an excellent upgrade for any CJ built during this time period.

Another inexpensive and easy Dana 44 for early CJs is the '72-'75 Dana 44. The advantage of this 30 spline 1 piece shaft Dana 44 is the spring perches are in the correct location and this axle is fairly easy to find. The disadvantage is this axle has a centered input and the Dana 18 uses an offset output. The rear drive shaft can be run at an unnatural angle or another transfer case can be swapped in.

Ultimate Offset Pumkin Dana 44: Rebuilding a '71 CJ-5 Dana 44 for a Project Pieces and Parts. This axle is the best factory rear end for any '41-'71 short Jeep.

'72-'75 CJs

One of the great things about '72-'75 CJ-5s and CJ-6s is they come with a 30 spline Dana 44 with one piece shafts from the factory. People with these Jeeps can focus their money and work in other areas such as a transmission or transfer case with a lower low range.

'76-'86 CJs

Most '76-'86 CJs came with the AMC 20 rear end that has two piece shafts. There are some exceptions where a Dana 44 with 30 spline 1 piece shafts was used. The AMC 20 has slightly larger R&P, but the housing is weaker and the two piece shafts are weaker than the Dana 44.

A narrow options (narrow track width) is the Commando Dana 44 used from '72-'73. This axle bolts right in and has the 30 spline 1 piece shafts. It is not as wide as '82-'86 AMC 20s.

Some late '86 CJ-7s used a wide track Dana 44 with 30 spline shafts and one piece alxes. This is an excellent option for any CJ built during this time.

Another option is the Dana 44 used in the rear of the Scout. This axle is a bit wider than stock (~58") and the spring perches need to be moved.

Yet another fairly common option is the Dana 44 used in Wagoneers and Cherokees in the 70s. Disadvantage of this axle is it uses a 6 on 5.5" wheel bolt pattern. Either the shafts need to be redrilled for the 5 on 5.5" wheel bolt pattern or the front axle converted to the 6 on 5.5" wheel bolt pattern. Another disadvantage of this axle over the Commando and Scout rear is the shafts on most are different lengths. On the Commando and Scout 44s both shafts are the same length, so only one spare needs to be carried.

Dana 44s can also be swapped in from 1/2 ton pickups, but these tend to be on the wide side. Depending on your use, this may be a good option, but if you are going wide, why not use a Dana 60?

'84- XJs

Some XJs with the heavy duty towing package came with a Dana 44. This axle is hard to find, but it is a great low buck Dana 44 for XJs that are not fortunate enough to have it.

'87-'95 YJs

The Wrangler YJ never had a Dana 44 from the factory except in Canada. In the US, it always came with the Dana 35c. Since the YJ uses the smal 5 on 4.5" wheel bolt pattern, swap options are much more limited if the wheel bolt pattern is to be retained.

One of the only options that retains the small wheel bolt pattern is the Dana 44 used in some heavy duty MJs and XJs. The metric ton MJ used a Dana 44 and some XJs with the towing package used the Dana 44. It is not a bolt in though because the XJs and MJs are spring over in the rear. The spring perches will have to be moved. This axle is also difficult to find.

If you are not concerned about wheel bolt pattern, it might be a good time to upgrade to the 5 on 5.5" wheel bolt pattern. The larger wheel bolt pattern allows the use of a good sized hub on the front axle. The Scout and Wagoneer axles make good swap fodder for YJs. Both axles are slightly narrower than the YJ axles, since a new wheel bolt pattern is being used, you won't be using the stock YJ rims. Wheels with a more conventional offset will maintain the track width of the Wrangler.

'93- ZJs

Some ZJs come from the factory with a Dana 44, unfortunately this 44 is not a normal 44. It has an aluminum center piece and c-clip shafts which make it weak. It also has limited locker selections since the carrier is not a normal 44 carrier. Generally, the off-roader would be better off with the stock Dana 35c than this unit. There is no real junk yard 44 for the ZJ, just about anything would require a large amount of fabrication

'97- TJs

The TJ has an optional Dana 44, make sure you order that option. The down side of this 44 is it uses the small 5 on 4.5" wheel bolt pattern. Like the ZJ, there are no junk yard solutions to TJ owners that do not have a 44 from the factory, a large amount of fabrication is required to put other 44s into a TJ.

Rear Dana 44 Swap Stories

44ed YJ Scout Dana 44s under a YJ: When evaluated as a hard-core off-road vehicle, the Jeep YJ is often praised for its excellent fuel-injected motor and panned for its weak axles and low, limited-articulation suspension. This is nothing a spring over with Scout Dana 44s won't cure.
Rear Dana 44 '70 1/2 - '71 CJ-5 Ultimate Offset Pumkin Dana 44: Rebuilding a '71 CJ-5 Dana 44 for a Project Pieces and Parts. This axle is the best factory rear end for any '41-'71 short Jeep.
CJ Scout Axle Swap:Scott Peterson swaps uncut Scout Dana 44s under his CJ. The Scout Dana 44 swap is one of the easiest.

Last modified Wednesday, 01-Dec-2010 09:23:32 MST

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