Most Jeeps in the 90s came with three types of rear axles: Chrysler 8.25, Dana 35 or Dana 44. Experienced Jeepers will prefer the Dana 44, but what if that’s not an option for you? We are going to talk about the differences between each axle, and why the Dana 35 might actually be better than you think.
How to Know Which One You Have
If you’re unsure of which axle is under you Jeep there are a few things to help you figure out which one you have. The easiest way to tell which axle you have is to look at the bottom of the differential. If there a flat section on the bottom, about 3-4 inches wide then you have a Chrysler 8.25. If the bottom of the differential is completely round you have a Dana 35.
Notice the difference between the two axles. The flat bottom is on the 8.25.
Most XJ Cherokees have the 8.25, but ABS equipped models have the Dana 35. All YJ Wranglers came equipped with a Dana 35 because there wasn’t any other option for a rear axle. TJ Wranglers came with either a Dana 35 or a Dana 44 but never came with a Chrysler 8.25.
Which One is Stronger
The Dana 35 has earned a pretty poor reputation in the off-road world. We can totally understand this because we have personally had a D35 explode on us from just being daily driven with 31-inch tires.
Most of these issues stem from a small ring gear and small axle shafts. In our case, the spider gears exploded and we could only drive forwards because they wouldn’t mesh properly in reverse.
The 8.25 axle housing is thicker and also larger is diameter than the D35. The 27-spline axle shafts on the pre-1997 8.25 aren’t really much stronger than the D35 axle shafts, but the 29-spline 1997 and newer 8.25 is much stronger.
The ring gear on the Dana 35 is 7.62 inches compared to the 8.25-inch ring gear on the Chrysler 8.25. Basically, the pre-97 8.25 is stronger than a D35, but not by all that much. The 97+ 8.25 is much stronger than a D35 and is actually comparable to a D44.
At this point, it’s pretty obvious that the 8.25 is the stronger axle. If you’ve really set your heart on keeping your D35 you could always upgrade it with a Super 35 Kit. Many people swear by their Super 35, claiming that it holds up to 37-inch tires without a sweat. The problem is that no matter how you upgrade it, it’s still a D35 with weak axle tubes. You’ll basically be polishing a turd.
If you have an XJ Cherokee we would recommend swapping over to an 8.25 or Ford 8.8 if you can fab the mounts. If you have a TJ Wrangler and cannot afford a D44 you’re out of luck. Considering a Super 35 Kit costs $1,000 and you could find a used D44 for much less than that.