When it comes to the XJ Cherokee there are a few different rear axles you can easily run. We’ve covered Chrysler 8.25 vs D35, and D35 vs D44. Many wheelers know that Jeep axles aren’t very strong. Ultimately if you want a good axle you’ll probably have to upgrade to something like the Ford 8.8 axle. So let’s dive in and compare the Chrysler 8.25 and the Ford 8.8 axle head to head.
How to Tell Them Apart
Obviously, if you’re planning on upgrading to a Ford 8.8 axle you’re going to need to buy one. There are a few different 8.8 axles, but only one works with the XJ Cherokee. The Ford 8.8 was used in a bunch of different vehicles.
The one that fits the XJ Cherokee is the Ford Explorer 8.8 axle. It’s only one inch narrower than the Chrysler 8.25 axle making it perfect for swapping. Other 8.8 axles such as the Fox Body 8.8 are too narrow to use on a Jeep.
Notice the flat bottom on the Chrysler 8.25 (left) compared to the Ford 8.8.
Luckily telling these axles apart isn’t very hard since they’re made by completely different companies. The Ford 8.8 is kind of square with very rounded edges. There’s not a completely flat part of the differential cover because it’s slightly rounded.
The Chrysler 8.25 is perfectly flat on both the top and bottom. There is also a noticeable part of the housing that sticks out below the differential cover.
Why Is the Ford 8.8 Stronger
The Chrysler 8.25 is way better than some other Jeep axles, however, it’s not the best option. Although I have never put an 8.8 axle in any of my personal Jeeps, I have helped others install it. Here are some of the things that make the Ford 8.8 stronger than the Chrysler 8.25.
The 8.25 axle tubes have a three-inch diameter which isn’t bad compared to some other Jeep axles. Ford 8.8 axle tubes, however, are 3.25 inches in diameter which makes the tubes significantly stronger.
It should be noted that some Ford 8.8s have stronger axle tubes than others. When you go to buy an 8.8 make sure you get one with thick tube walls. The Chrysler 8.25 uses an 8.25-inch ring gear whilst the Ford 8.8 uses an 8.8-inch ring gear. That’s over a half-inch bigger on the 8.8 compared to the 8.25.
Last but certainly not least are the axle shafts. On the Chrysler 8.25, there are two different sizes of axle shafts. Pre-1997 axles had 27-spline shafts and post-1997 axles had 29-spline axle shafts.
The Ford 8.8 also has two different sizes of axle shafts. Throughout the years Ford mixed and matched axles to different vehicles. Heavier vehicles received the 31-spline axle shafts and lighter vehicles received the 28-spline axle shafts.
At this point, it should be pretty obvious the Ford 8.8 is significantly stronger than the Chrysler 8.25. It has larger axle tubes, larger axle shafts, and a much larger ring gear. If you decide to upgrade to a Ford 8.8 you’ll need to know how to weld. To put a Ford 8.8 under an XJ Cherokee you’ll need to weld on spring searches, shocks mounts, and get a new driveshaft.