2004 WJ Axle Upgrade Options


New member
I picked up a low mileage 2004 Grand Cherokee for the base of a mild to medium overlander build. I am looking to upgrade both front and rear axles. I would like some help finding salvage yard axles that would be a good option for these upgrades. I'm leaning toward Dana 44 front and rear upgrades. Current GC has 3.73 gears in a Dana 44A rear and Dana 30 Front, not positive on the front tbh. The 44A is already whining and I think I am just going to abandon it. Thoughts? Do I have to swap out the front dana 30 to run 34"-36" tires?. Could I find salvage axles with a decent match gear ratio to run 34" tires or bigger Are upgrades to the dana 30 even worth it? I can do some welding and fab work to make things fit but I don't know which vehicles would have good candidate axles. I'd like to match or closely match WMD to the stock dimension. I have heard that some Isuzu Rodeos and Honda Pilots ran iron 44's in the rear but have a different ring thickness of something like that. I'm going to swap out or convert the 249 T case to a 231 and plan to just run lunch box lockers. Trying to do things as economical as possible but realize I will need to spend some $$ to make this unit trail worthy. Any help or recommendations would be appreciated.

What ate your plans? Rock crawling. Heavy beating in 4x4 or mild dirt roads. 35-38 in tires will take out the D30 axels if rock crawling and hammering bounces off road under high torque. Some may get away with it but i read more about blowing them up than success stories.

So what is your plan?

Never look down on anyone unless you are helping them up - Jesse Jackson
I want a reliable daily driver that I plan to overland with, pull my boat, and slam around in the woods a bit. I'd like to take a trip out to Moab but don't plan on running buggy lines or anything nuts but I don't want to be afraid of breaking the thing running across a river bed or some mild rock climbing/crawling. I would stick with the 44A but like I said I think I already have some pinion clearance issues and can't see spending a pile of money trying to make it beefier. I really think I can get by with some 34's on a set of stock Dana44's from the right donor vehicle(s) throw lunch box lockers front and rear and see what give out first. I just don't know what vehicle(s) to start looking for at scrap yards or on CL. Saw a post from a guy that had front and rear Dana44's that he took from under his rusted out XJ for a decent price. He had pretty tall gears, 5.20somthing, in them if I remember and a welded rear diff or spool. I couldn't jump on it soon enough because I didn't want to be stuck with something I couldn't use. Trying to educate myself so I can be confident if the right deal comes along.

Sounds like you agree the Dana 30 up front should be upgraded before I move to larger tires. and maybe sooner if Iplant to beat on it a little.
Yes from what you describe you want to do. Upgrade the 30 and maybe truss them of your beating it any.

Never look down on anyone unless you are helping them up - Jesse Jackson

So what vehicles should I be looking for for donor axles? I haven't even found the wheel mount distance on my Cherokee yet so I need to start there. I saw some info on Ford Bronco 8.8 rear as a possible upgrade too. Any idea on donor vehicles or feelings on the 8.8?