WJ Dana 44HD axle removal and refitting - questions - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 4 Old 07-21-2017, 10:53 PM Thread Starter
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2002 WJ 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Portland
Posts: 11
WJ Dana 44HD axle removal and refitting - questions

The rear end is growling, and a rebuild seems to be is anything between $1200 and $2000 . I can get a "new" axle in decent condition for $400, so it looks like I'll have to adventure into trying a swap.

The instructions seems fairly simple:
1. Jack it up, remove the wheels
2. Support the axle with a jack
3. Detach the shocks
4. Disconnect and support the driveshaft
5. Unbolt the stabilizer bar from the stabilizer links
6. Disconnect the parking brake cables
7. Disconnect and plug the brake hoses
8. Remove the springs
9. Detach the control arms
10. Lower the axle a roll it away

So my questions are:

Q1: Disconnecting the parking brakes (step 6) appears to involve a lot of work inside the cabin - especially as I have loads of extra gear mounted on the center console. And the parking brake is more use less useless anyway.
So... is there an easier way?

Q2: Before fitting the new (to me) axle, I'd like to inspect the condition of the diff. But I don't know what t look for? It's a Vari-Lok diff, so I guess I need to both check the bearings and whatever makes the limited slip work?

Q3: Anything else that's good to know? I'm reasonably mechanically inclined (normal mainetance, brakes, suspension, engine ancillaries, etc.) but I've never really worked on the axles or driveshafts. I've searched Google but nothing really useful pops up...


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post #2 of 4 Old 07-22-2017, 03:48 AM
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2004 WJ 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 231
The easy way to do the parking brake cables is lift the rear seat. In the center under the seat is a splitter where the one cable from the console handle connects to the two cables to the rear wheels. There's enough slack in the cable system to release the rear cables from the grooves in the splitter at that point. Much easier than the method from the FSM.

Pay someone who has the expertise to evaluate the new diff. You need both knowledge and a few special tools to check a diff. I would expect a decent shop to charge for about an hour of time.

The bolts that hold the ball joint on top of the diff are a byatch to remove if you leave the ball joint in the swing arm. Hard to access, little room to turn, and in there with lots of threadlocker. Most people like a wratchet wrench for that bit. Easier if you can pop the ball joint loose from the arm and take it out with the diff. Then when you have it out in the open you can use a breaker bar or air gun on the three bolts.

I would be tempted to put in new wheel bearings and seals, just because the wheel seals are a known weak spot for leakage.

It's not a tough job technically, you can certainly do it.

PS- wheel speed sensors are not on your list. Easy. Might want new parking brake shoes if they're oily.

04 WJ 4.0/NP242, 3" OME, Bilsteins, 255/75/17 & JKR wheels, 44A, 4.56, ARB lockers, & more
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post #3 of 4 Old 07-22-2017, 09:16 AM
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1999 WJ 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 314
Like BDW said just slack the lines for the e brake under the seat. you will remove the entire assembly from the axle tube and reuse it on the new axle, no need to go any further than that. Don't buy a new axle with brakes on it.

You should be able to find a 44 in good shape without the brakes for ~$200...$400 is a ripoff IMO. Pop the cover off. If there's no obvious signs of wear, the teeth look fine all the way round, no play in the pinion, and the fluid looks good and there's no metal floating, let it eat. IMO for 200$ there's no real need to evaluate it any further. You're going to spend all this time for a shop to charge you 100$ to tell you either A: It's fine (in which case waste of 100$) or it's bad and will be $1000 to fix it, (in which case you're just going to go find another 44 anyway, and it's still a waste of time and 100$).

The last time I swapped a 44 i paid $210 for the axle with a 1 year warranty. (warranty being i could come back and swap it for a different one at the yard). So assuming you can find a deal like that (which i think should be fairly common), swap it in, if it blows grab a new one.

1999 WJ 4.0/6"/CLAs/33s/242SYE/ZJ Rad Swap
2006 LJ 4.0/2.5"/33s

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post #4 of 4 Old 07-23-2017, 03:04 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Portland
Posts: 11
BDW & Topher11, thanks for all your insight.

Very helpful; I definitely feel more confident taking on the job.

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