Better Axle Ball Joints
The high-pinion Dana 30 and Dana 44 front axles found under the ’07-to-current Jeep Wrangler JK are a vast improvement over the low-pinion front axles of the previous generation of Wranglers. While the current Wrangler front axles are fine in stock form, when larger tires, heavy bumpers, and hardcore wheeling are put into the mix the factory front axle inherits a few problems.
At just under 38,000 miles our ’08 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon developed a nasty front-end wobble. An inspection uncovered a lot of play in the ball joints. Once we dug a little farther we found that three of the four ball joints were completely smoked! Admittedly, our 37s and years of wheeling trips haven’t helped to preserve the factory joints.
To help upgrade the Dana 44 front axle we contacted the aftermarket axle experts at Dynatrac. Dynatrac is known for its legendary Pro Rock series axles and in recent years has created a line of factory axle upgrades for Jeep and fullsize pickups. One of Dynatrac’s latest offerings is the Pro Steer ball joint set. The Pro Steer joint is more than a factory replacement; it is a heavy-duty upgrade engineered to be the last ball joint you’ll ever press into your front axle.
We’ll be the first to admit that the Dynatrac joints are not the most inexpensive, but given their advantages, build quality, and serviceability the investment is worth it. Plus, they’re made in America, and that’s worth something in our book. The beefier joints save both time and money down the line. Another plus is that you can install them in your driveway in just a few hours. For more information on the Pro Steer joints and to see a complete line of vehicle applications visit www.dynatrac.com.
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Most solid front axles don’t offer any type of camber adjustment. This usually isn’t a big problem, but on our post-install alignment we found that our driver-side front axle was set in farther than we would like. We wouldn’t consider our axle bent, but it was obvious that our camber was different from side to side.
Our slightly tilted driver-side front axle also presented us with a little axleshaft and ball joint interference. Fortunately the RCV axleshaft boot lip only contacted the lower ball joint cap ever so slightly. We opted to shave just a little off the outside lip of the boot, and so far we haven’t experienced any issues. Obviously this is something we’ll be keeping an eye on, and we will address the axle on a larger scale if the camber issue worsens.