Wrangler JK Drivetrain Parts and Aftermarket Upgrades
The Lone Jeeper - Upgrades & Strategies for an Off-Road Nomadic Lifestyle
You just bought your Jeep but don't know where to start? The Lone Jeeper gives you tips and strategies based on his personal experience as a full time off-road wanderer in the remote Canadian wilderness.
Wrangler JK 2007-2018 Lockers, Axle Shafts, Differential Gears & Pinions for various ratios (3.73, 5.38, 4.11, 4.56, 4.88 , 5.13, 5.38 for Dana 30, Dana 35 or Dana 44).
Available brands and manufacturers for ring gears and pinion kits :
Mammoth (Front and Rear with Overhaul 5.38)
Yukon (Works with JK but also with any Rubicon & Wrangler JL model)
G2 (Make your Wrangler climb steep hills more safely, easy installation in less than 4 hours)
Alloy USA (Massive 5.38 Gears that fit any Front Axle Dana 44 - Increase low end torque by 100% compared to the factory gears)
Crown Automotive (Less expensive but still good on the market because made with 100% solid steel)
USA Standard (Top of the line, made in USA, and offering prestigious products like the CNC-machined super strong 5.13 gear ratio with extra bolts for the ring gear... Perhaps the toughest gears and pinions in the world)
Alloy USA U-Joints : Which one to choose between stock replacement and available u-joint upgrades in order to make sure you are not creating a new weak point. Stronger doesn't necessary means that you won't brake anything on the trail. You could snap an expensive axle shaft ($150 each) instead of a cheap $25 u-joint.
If you have a lift kit installed and tires larger than 32 inches, upgrading the rear driveshaft isn't an option but a necessity. If you don't upgrade the driveshaft, it will wear prematurely and break at the worst moment (whatever you're driving on the highway, in the city or in the bush. Yukon, Rugged Ridge, G2 and Rough Country make affordable DS (less than 600$ per unit) for the front and the rear differentials and easy to connect to the Wrangler's transfer case. Tip: Installing a shaft boot kit (made of genuine rubber) is also an good idea because it helps keeping water, debris, dirty greases and other contaminants outside the CV joint in order to prevent damages in case your components have their lubricant washed away.
A heavy duty clutch like the Dual Centerforce II or the or Omix Series allows a higher level of friction and a longer durability. Rock crawling or river fording can be tough on a manual transmission and damage the stock flywheel and/or the pressure plate after only 1000 miles in rough country.
Experienced off-roaders know how much it's frustrating to snap a shaft or break an axle for good. The fact is that those events often happen when it's raining or cold outside and you don't feel like fixing it. The second reason is that it's almost impossible to unbend a bent shaft or to repair a snapped one. The only way remains to carry an extra set at all time. But the problem is that it's heavy (over 60 lbs in general). A complete replacement kit is also hard on the wallet ($400 or more). A Jeeper should probably consider investing that money on a better aircraft quality front axle that includes cv joints and 100% waterproof protective boots. There are manufacturers like Yukon, RCV Performance and Ten Factory that offer a limitless warranty. What does it mean? If you succeed to damage it, you get a free replacement (there are other conditions but to make a long story short : it's a generous and unique warranty).
When a lone Jeeper starts wandering in the bush for long periods of time, he will eventually face crazy puddles of mud and thick/wet snow. Those obstacles are often impossible to overcome without an electrical or air locking differential locker.
Most Jeeps are sold with an open rear and front differential. That means the differentials don't apply a constant velocity to the four wheels but distribute the power following the resistance felt on each wheel. In other words: if the right tire starts spinning while the left tire deals with strong resistance, the differential wil apply more traction to the latter. A locker forces both axles to spin at the same time and at the exact same speed. The result is more torque and more traction when you get stuck in the mud or in the snow. Getting stranded for good means you'll need external help and that help could take hours to show up. Lockers are often the quickest and most effective way to be more self-reliant on the trail.
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