ahhh crap i think i got the wrong axle shaft GRRRR
3.07 - used with 4.0L engine / manual transmission --- The kind of Cherokee the axle shaft came from
3.55 - used with 4.0L engine / automatic transmission --- The kind of drivetrain i have in my cherokee.
Ok, now let's think about this whole thing once more:
1. If you're replacing just the axle shaft, the only thing you need to look is that the axle shaft comes from a similar axle and from the correct side.
2. It does NOT matter at all what gearing the donor axle has, since you are not changing the carrier and the gears. You can use 3.07 gearing or you can use 4.88 gearing, the axle SHAFTS are still exactly the same.
Are you really talking about play in the carrier bearings? I mean, you can move the carrier (to which the big ring gear is bolted to) side-to-side? Or are we talking about just the axle shaft that moves side-to-side? If it is only the axle shaft, and not the carrier, this is completely normal on C-clip axles!
They have about 1/8" of side-to-side play.
Then again, gear howl usually means bad carrier and/or pinion bearings, which in turn eats your R&P set pretty quickly. If this is the case, you will need to do what was mentioned before: either buy a complete R&P set + master overhaul kit, and have the gears installed (= a lot of $$$). Or get a JY axle that has the same gearing as yours.
Now, I say it again - since you did NOT replace the carrier, only one axle shaft it does not matter it came out of an axle that had different gearing. Your axle bearing propably took a hit too, check the bearing at the end of the axle housing and look for up-down- play in it. It will also cause a howling/ grinding noise at speed if it's damaged. But if you still have the gear howl? Sorry mate, you're looking at another trip to the JY and start looking for a donor axle...
1998 Grand Cherokee 5.9 LX daily driver, 1.75" BB, 32" KM2s, HPD30 Eaton e-locker/D44a stock LSD, 4.56 gears, custom- fabbed tube bumpers and tube fenders,...
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1990 XJ Limited (4-door), 4.0 I6, AW4, NP242, ***rolled and totalled @ 165k miles***
1990 XJ (4-door), 4.0 I6, AW4, NP242, PBR 42" tires, Unimog 404 portal axles, 110" WB, full cage + uniframe completely rebuilt, front 3-link + panhard / double triangulated 4-link rear,... ***SOLD***