aw4 or ax-15? -
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Go Back > Models > Jeep Cherokee & Comanche Forums > XJ Cherokee Non-Technical Forum > aw4 or ax-15?

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Unread 08-13-2014, 05:01 PM   #1
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1993 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 13
aw4 or ax-15?

Hi everybody!

A little background: 1993 xj, 4.0, ax-15, np-231. Basically stock DD/ hunting rig but I still like to go out and play in it sometimes.

My xj started its life out with an aw4 and it handled great off road but it started slipping (pushing 300k at the time so it wasn't unexpected). I prefer manuals and it being a DD i figured i'd make the swap. Now that I've had a chance to play around with both transmissions off road i absolutely love the manual and i dont think i could go back. But...

I've read a lot of posts on here from people who say they don't/didn't like their ax-15 or other manual trans xj off road. Not looking to start an argument or anything I was just a little bored and wondering if there was anyone else out there like me? Or if not tell me why iI'm always curious to hear about other peoples experiences

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Unread 08-13-2014, 09:47 PM   #2
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1995 XJ Cherokee 
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In the end it comes down to personal preference.

An auto is generally considered "better" off-road due to the "infinitely-low" crawl-ratio effect of the torque-converter that allows for very low speeds without stalling or burning out the clutch, though in 1st. on the AX-15 with the transfer-case in 4L you can go pretty slow without slipping the clutch, but you will likely need to use 4L more often because of this. The torque-converter also helps to reduce shock-loading of the driveline (especially if a wheel gets stuck) reducing the chances of breaking a u-joint, axle shaft, etc..

It all comes down to what you like. It is also worth noting that a manual in a truck/SUV is very different than the manuals in most cars (at least modern ones), throws are much longer, less direct, etc. Some people that love driving manual cars hate manuals in trucks/SUVs for this reason, though the AX-15 isn't bad as some, it certainly isn't a crisp short-throw unit like you would find in a sports car, modern muscle car, etc..
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Unread 08-13-2014, 10:34 PM   #3
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1993 XJ Cherokee 
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Location: Portland, OR
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Thanks for bringing a little technical info to the discussion.

As for SUV/trucks being different I agree but I kind of prefer that I pretty much learned to drive stick in an old f-100 with an SROD 4-speed so maybe thats where my preferences come from.
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Unread 08-14-2014, 12:10 AM   #4
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In My own personal opinion the ax15 is a great transmission on and off road. And definitely off-roading with any manual trans can be a little harder than an auto. If an ax15 is well maintained you'll get a lot of life out of it. One of the main problems people have with the ax15 is synchronizers going bad. And people don't know how the went bad so quick. The ax15 calls for GL3 but the don't make GL3 anymore. And Chrysler says use GL4. GL4 is Sulfur based. The synchros in the ax15 are brass. Sulfur eats brass. The best thing for it is a heavy weight gear oil safe for yellow metals. I've always run Penzoil Synchromesh in My ax15s. And they shift great. If you live somewhere more prone to cold weather Redline Mt-90 stands up to colder weather a little better. But I'm in SC so it doesn't usually get to cold. Hope this helps
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Unread 08-14-2014, 09:31 AM   #5
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Location: Cedar City, Utah
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Swapped to an AX-15 and love it. I have never been a fan of automatics.
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Unread 08-14-2014, 04:29 PM   #6
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1990 MJ Comanche 
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An AX15 with the 3.54 gears of an automatic's axle is probably a lot better than with the 3.07s they came with.
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Unread 08-17-2014, 07:59 AM   #7
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1991 MJ Comanche 
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An AW4 with a manual control option ( either home brew or raddesigns) works very well. I have wheeled both and the auto is much easier but I can't say it gave me any more ability.
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