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Look, It's a Dana 35. What? It's a Dana 27?

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Posted November 1, 1999

Need Help? Try Our Quick-and-Easy Axle Spotter's Guide

Step By Step

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  • Here’s the most common cover ever. This shape is for the Dana 23, 25, 27, 30 and, in a slightly larger version, the 53. The 23 and 25 are on early WWII rear axles, with the 25, 27, and 30 primarily being front axles from WWII to the present. The 53 axle is used on the rear of some pickups.

  • The AMC corporate Model 20 has 12 bolts and a round cover, which was used in the rear of ’76-’86 CJs and a few mid-’80s fullsize vehicles. Though a few design problems have given this axle a bad reputation, it’s nevertheless a good unit and very common.

  • Though larger than a 44, the Dana 60 and 70 share the same cover shape. Jeep used few 70 axles, but quite a few 60-series found their way into the rear of 1/2- and 3/4-ton pickups.

  • The Dana 44 is the second most common cover, used from the late ’40s to the present. Primarily a rear application, the front of many pickups, FCs, and other fullsize Jeeps also received this axle.

  • The Dana 35 and 35C are used in the rear of many YJ, TJ, XJ, and ZJ Jeeps. Smaller than the 44, the cover is nearly the same as the Chrysler 81/4 axle and nearly indistinguishable from it. This light-duty unit is adequate for most needs, but larger tires can cause the housings to bend and axles to snap.

Axles. Without ’em, a Jeep would be dead in the water. We’re talking complete axle assemblies of course: what you put gears into, tires on, and a place to hook your suspension and drivelines to. They’re pretty darn important, but many Jeep owners are clueless about what’s under their Jeep and don’t have a reference that will explain it all.

To that end, we’ve come up with this quick-’n’-easy Axle ID Guide to help you spot what’s underneath. We won’t go into all of the intricate details, since each axle model is almost a story in itself. Instead, we recommend that you use this guide as an overview, and the next time someone asks you “Watcha got under there?,” you can answer with authority.

Most Jeep axles are produced by Dana Spicer, one axle was made by AMC, and a few were produced by Chrysler. The Dana axles have been available in front and rear versions, with many varieties of each. The easiest way to make a quick ID is the shape of the cover and the amount of bolts holding it on. The actual inside ratio and axle spline differences are more difficult to ascertain without looking inside, and even the little metal tag on the cover bolt isn’t a solid indication of the truth.

So, check out the photos and get a clue about what’s underneath your Jeep.