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Front Axle Help

893 Views 7 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  biffgnar
Well it seems that my Jeep's (97 TJ) issues and repairs have gotten over my head. After finally getting the fuel system, battery, starter, and other small issues resolved I thought I finally had a running Jeep again. I decided I should do a full fluid change out since I didn't know when the previous owner had last changed anything. When I pulled the rear differential cover off "chocolate milk" poured out and I saw several broken teeth on my ring gear. I didn't feel any metal in the oil and I ran a magnet around inside the differential and didn't see any particles sticking to it. After seeing this I decided that I was in over my head and dropped my Jeep off at East Coast Gear Supply to have them rebuild my rear axle and troubleshoot the odd sounds from my front end. They contacted me confirming that I'd need to replace the ring and pinion as well as needing new bearings and seals on my rear Dana 44. I also had the ARB air locker rebuilt while they had it open. ECGS contacted me again to let me know that my front Dana 30 has a broken u joint, blown driver side seals (saw it leaking from the drive over) and could possibly be bent, I will know more on Monday when they continue to work on it. Now I need some advice weighing some different options. Should I sink around $1500 to rebuild the front axle assuming its not bent (maybe add a truss), should I look at buying a "bolt in" TJ Dana 44 (G2 with ARB? $3700) online and installing that myself, or ECGS quoted me $5400 to install and brand new JK dana 44 with arb locker, chomoly shafts, ect. I'm also open to other ideas/suggestions.

I planned on primarily taking this jeep on trails around VA/NC area and I don't plan on rock crawling or being heavy with the gas pedal. I thought I had gotten a good deal on Craigslist but I think I unknowingly inherited the previous owners issues. I've pretty much driven this jeep a few miles back a forth to work and then did one wheeling trip on my friends farm mainly going through woods and horse pastures.

I like the 35" tires and 4.88s currently on my jeep and eventually I'd like to add a PSC hydro assist kit along with the currie steering parts.
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You'll often find more issues than expected on a used vehicle.
I'd bet your D30 last a while longer with new U joints.
If it's bent, top off the fluid, if not, do the seals.
No reason to buy a whole new axle, but I can't fault ECGS for offering to sell you one.
 

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If you do consider a replacement axle, doesn't ECGS sell an HP30? With good shafts that would work fine for your use and seems a lot easier than them having to completely redo your front end and steering to put in a JK axle.
 

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Personally I'd just replace the seals and some new u joints for now. A TJ Dana 30 and 44 both run the same ujoints but the jk D44 runs a larger one. My failures on a D30 where the ears on the shafts (chromoly's) would break and not the u joint. I ended up going to RCVs and have had zero issues since and I'm running 4.88, arb locker, 35s with a 5 speed and atlas 5 to 1and I rock crawl with it
 

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If you do consider a replacement axle, doesn't ECGS sell an HP30? With good shafts that would work fine for your use and seems a lot easier than them having to completely redo your front end and steering to put in a JK axle.
Thanks to everyone for the advice! After talking to ECGS we decided on going with a HP30, ARB air locker, and beefing it up with gussets and sleeves. Hopefully this will be the end of things for a while and I can get back to enjoying my jeep and tinkering with minor things. This has been a learning adventure for sure. ECGS have been very helpful and I have to say I highly recommend them if you are in the triangle area.
 

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Thanks to everyone for the advice! After talking to ECGS we decided on going with a HP30, ARB air locker, and beefing it up with gussets and sleeves. Hopefully this will be the end of things for a while and I can get back to enjoying my jeep and tinkering with minor things. This has been a learning adventure for sure. ECGS have been very helpful and I have to say I highly recommend them if you are in the triangle area.
They are upselling you on the sleeves and gussets. Not necessary on that axle. If you want to spend the money put mini-skids on the lower control arm mounts and do the upper Johnny Joint conversion. Those are changes that make a difference and are much easier done when the axle is not under the jeep.
 
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