Part 1: We Stick to Stock and Rebuild—With Excellence
We've had pretty good luck with the stock Dana 30 front axle in our '99 Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ. Despite the fact that it still uses stock gearing and an open diff, it's chugged its way over every obstacle we pointed it through the years. Albeit the trails we've traveled were mild and we do our best not to push its limitations so it will still be ready for the weekly commute every Monday, the axle as a whole has not lived up to its failure-prone Dana "Turdy reputation.
So, when it came time to either rebuild the Dana 30 or make the move to a Dana 44, we found ourselves questioning the necessity of a complete conversion. We weren't breaking parts as it was, so why go bigger? We're also not in the market for bigger tires anytime soon and aren't planning on running any trails tougher than the explorer and scenic routes we already enjoy. Since we weren't breaking factory Dana 30 parts, it made sense that stronger, aftermarket Dana 30 parts would likely be enough insurance that we wouldn't be left stranded anytime soon.
There aren't a lot of options for WJ owners looking to upgrade from their stock Dana 30 CV axles, but luckily there is one of the best options, RCV Performance's Ultimate CV axles. The Ultimate CV axles are twice as strong as OEM axleshafts and they are just as tough at a straight angle as they are at extreme angleswhere traditional U-joint axles, and especially the WJ's failure-prone CV axles, are at their weakest. Binding is eliminated, permitting a smooth transfer of power to the ground no matter the situation.
Continuing the quest for strength and also gaining capability, we'll install an ARB Air Locker and lower 4.11 gears, as well as Synergy Suspension's unique high-strength ball joints. Along with the Dana 30 upgrades, we'll also address the rear Dana 35, installing an ARB Air Locker, 4.11 gears, and chromoly axleshafts. Both the front and rear will also receive some cool brake upgrades. Check upcoming issues for when we finish off the Dana 30 upgrades and delve in the Dana 35 before hitting our favorite trail to give the "new" axles a whirl in the dirt.