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Dana 44 vs. Dana 60 Axle Identification Guide

Techline: Easy ways to ID your 4x4’s rear end.

My friend has a 1960s Ford pickup, and we can't identify the rear axle. It's either a Dana 44 or a Dana 60. How can we tell the difference?—Ted Olmstead, via email

Identifying an axle is the first thing you should always do prior to ordering axle or brake parts. There are a couple of different rear axles that could have found their way under a '60s Ford truck. Which axle you have would depend on the truck model. It's also possible that someone could have performed an axle swap.

Diff Cover

Since you have already identified the axle as a Dana 44 or Dana 60, that's where we'll go ahead and start. There are several relatively easy ways to identify a Dana axle. The cast centersection and pressed-in tubes are common for many axle manufacturers, but the stop sign-shaped differential cover is the dead giveaway for identifying an early Dana axle. Both the Dana 44 and Dana 60 have similar stop sign-shaped differential covers.

Stamped Number on the Axle

To figure out exactly what axle you have, you can look for the Dana stamped bill of materials number. This stamped number can usually be found on the righthand side or on the longer axletube on the same side of the tube as the differential cover, facing the rear of the truck. The number can be used to identify the axle, the year of manufacture, and the model vehicle the axle originally came from. This info is especially handy when looking for replacement axleshafts and brake parts for swapped-in axles. The bill of materials number can even tell you what gear ratio the axle originally came with. You'll find a manufacturing date stamped into the axle in the same area.

Model ID

Unfortunately, it's not all that unusual for the bill of materials number and manufacturing date to be hard to find or unreadable. Years of rust, off-road abuse, and custom fabrication often covers the bill of materials numbers or makes it unreadable. If the axle is unmolested and only a little rusty, lightly sanding the axletube by hand can sometimes reveal the bill of materials number and manufacturing date code.

Many Dana axles have the model ID cast into the fins or centersection. Look for a "44" or "60" cast into the reinforcement ribs. The number can usually be found on the lower right side rib below the differential cover, but it may also be found on other ribs or on top of the main cast structure.

Measure Your Axle

If all else fails, and you're sure it's either a Dana 44 or a Dana 60, you can measure the differential cover to identify your Dana axle. Although the Dana 44 and Dana 60 differential covers look similar, their sizes are significantly different. The Dana 44 differential cover will measure about 9 1/2 inches wide and 10 1/2 inches tall, while the Dana 60 differential cover will measure about 11 1/4 inches wide and 12 inches tall. Beware: The Dana 70 differential cover measures the same as the Dana 60 cover.

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