Just grasping at straws, but I thought I'd throw this out. Just for giggles I took a look at the gear on my son's 2000 Sahara yesterday. I't looked fine with even wear. The noticable thing was that the hold down bolt broke loose very easily, with the same wrench I use for the 2005. The first time I removed the bolt on the 2005 it took quite an effort to break it loose.This is a long reach Snap- On wrench. I don't know what the torque value is,but the 2000 was probably not over 10-12 lb.ft.
Could the OPDA's on our Jeeps have been tightened so much as to actually bind the shaft?
Also the 2000 has 143,000 miles and unless someone snuck into my driveway in the last 11 years and loosened the bolt it has never been off.
Like I stated,just an observation not enough info to start a debate.