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Technical / Installation Articles - Engine / Drivetrain

Ford 8.8 Axle Conversion

Article written by Tyler Andersen

Date Added: 05/30/2006

I own a 1991 Jeep Cherokee with 7.5? lift and 33x12.50? BFG MT?s. I recently decided that I wanted to finally lock up my rear end with an ARB since I already have an ARB in the front and the compressor.

My XJ has the Chrysler 8.25 27 spline in the rear so I gave ARB a call to see what they could do. They suggested buying 29 spline axle shafts if I was planning on locking that axle. I was told that I was likely to break the axle shafts if I didn?t make the switch.

I figured that since I would eventually want to switch from drum brakes to disk brakes, I should just find a new, stronger axle now. I heard that stock-to-stock, the Ford 8.8 is about 120% stronger than the Dana 35 or Chrysler 8.25 and figured it would be a great candidate for the swap. I decided on a 1995 or newer Explorer axle since they have the correct lug pattern, factory disk brakes, and 31 spline shafts (Pre-95 Ford 8.8's and those found in Rangers and mustangs usually come with 28 spline shafts and drum brakes).


1. If you are interested in installing a Ford 8.8 on the rear end of your XJ then here?s what you need to do:

Call or go to some junkyards and get yourself a Ford 8.8 axle off of a 1995 or newer Ford Explorer. Make sure everything is in pretty good shape and that you get the right gear ratio to match your front end (you may have to re-gear one or both of your axles).

2. Once you get the axle home, you may want to take it apart to start cleaning and sanding. Now is a good time to change the brake pads.

3. Another part you may want to buy is a Ford 8.8 Install Kit from M.O.R.E. Off-road (part number 98600). It costs $165 and is easily welded on. You can make your own brackets, but the kit makes life much easier.

4. You will need to cut off the old leaf spring mounts that were used for the Explorer.
 although it says you need to cut off the sway bar mounts, it isn?t necessary. I left mine on.  

5. You will also need to purchase a Special Yoke from M.O.R.E. Off-road to adapt the stock size U-joint (YJ or XJ rear drive shaft, 1310 series) to the Ford 8.8 rear pinion flange (part number 221379).

6. After you have cleaned everything on the axle and changed the brake pads, then you are ready for some paint.

7. Once you have painted, you can remove the old axle by disconnecting both shocks, unbolting the U-Bolts, disconnecting any brake lines still attached, and disconnecting the rear drive shaft. Slide the old axle out from under the Jeep.

8. Slide the new axle under and you can see where you want to weld the new leaf spring perches.

9. Set the perches on the axle and jack up the axle so the leaf springs are settled onto the perches.

10. Center the axle under the vehicle by measuring the distance from the rotor to the leaf spring mount on both sides and adjusting till they are equal.

11. Jack up the axle till the springs are supporting the weight of the Jeep.

12. Rotate the axle to get the correct driveline and pinion angle.

13. Bolt the leaf springs to the axle.

14. Double check all your measurements to make sure the axle is in the right position, and tack weld the spring perches to the axle.

15. Next, put the shock mounts on the axle. Hold them up to where they need to be and tack weld them in place.

16. Unbolt the axle and do some heavy duty welding.

17. Once everything is welded and cooled, paint the welds and any remaining bare metal.

18. When paint dries, bolt everything in place and torque it all down. This is a good time to install new U-Joints if needed.

19. Some modification is necessary to make the emergency brakes work. I just made a new cable end that would work with the Ford 8.8. I also relocated the brake line bracket on the unibody.

20. Bleed the brakes and make sure everything is put back together properly.

21. Take it for a test drive, and enjoy your new, stronger, Ford 8.8 rear axle.

Final Thoughts

Well, everything went as planned and there weren?t any major hold-ups or problems (probably one of the first big projects without any problems). The axle looks great, and my braking was greatly improved. There are no vibrations and no leaks. All of the brake/e-brake/breather cables/tubes worked out great. I flexed everything up with no axle problems. I am very pleased with the install and would recommend it highly.

Our Thank You's!

I would like to thank and credit my Dad, Kelly Andersen, for helping me out with this project and getting me into Jeeping. Thanks for everything.

Tyler Andersen

MOABJEEPER Magazine would like to thank Tyler Andersen for submitting this article.

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