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Maybe bit off more than I can chew...Dana 35 rebuild


FBBO Gold Member
FBBO Gold Member
Local time
8:19 AM
Dec 3, 2020
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western Maryland
So, not a B body but it is a Mopar - my 06 Wrangler. D35 rear was roaring, so I pulled it open. Ring and pinion teeth look pristine so I'm going for bearings. Outer axle bearings (they're easy and cheap), inner pinion and outer pinion (common fail point). Carrier bearings look and feel great (my opinion and that of a local jeep guy I ordered parts from; had the parts in a bucket for fresh eyes before ordering), so I'm not messing with them this time around.

My concern is the pinion bearings, and setting proper depth. It's a crush sleeve setup, with shims for the carrier bearings.

I have calipers to measure shims. I have a slide hammer, I have stuff to drive the bearing cones out of the case and can make something to tap the new ones in (a day in the freezer will hopefully help too). Got torque wrenches.

I don't have a dial indicator, and I'm not sure how to set the pinion depth. Is it a matter of just torquing the pinion nut to spec? Can I check the teeth with gear grease to read the pattern, and that will tell me? Also I've read a couple writeups that say to use a new pinion nut as they're single-use....


Am I screwed? Or can I make this work?

I have the axles out. Carrier out. Caps and cones and shims labeled and zip tied into position. Getting new spider gears because one tooth was broken (the ONLY tooth in the whole rear that had any damage on it...weird). Pinion gear and bearings are out but cones and seal are still in. Outer axle bearings and seals are out.

New parts on order are outer axle bearings and seals. Inner and outer pinion bearings. Crush sleeve. Pinion seal. Spider gears. And a carrier shim kit, just in case.

I've built engines. Transmissions. Electrical. Just about everything on a car...and motorcycles from the ground up. I'm "mechanically inclined"...but this is my first diff.

And, I'm doing it under the vehicle, with no lift.

At least the garage is heated.
Usually, replace the crush sleeve and torque pinion to spec with the new bearings installed and it should be close, put the shims back the way you found them... Check the pattern and BL and see how it looks.
Honestly, look for a used Dana 44 to swap in before you spend any time or money on that turd. The D35 is horrible.
Honestly, look for a used Dana 44 to swap in before you spend any time or money on that turd. The D35 is horrible.
I just started a new gig and am still figuring my budgets at the moment. Repair is the only financial option (well, the only smart one) at the moment, until I know where I'm landing income-wise.

And used D44s aren't cheap around here.

And if I swapped it, I'll likely have to re-gear the front to match (more $).

Long as it gets me through winter....
You need a dial indicator and a FSM will help setting it up. You will use the dame pinion depth shims and set the preload with a new crush sleeve. The nut is your choice I reuse them with a drop of blue loctite. Watch some videos on collapsing the crush sleeve. It is a one time use part. Once you have that set up you can go with the carrier. Again use the same shims and see where it takes you. It should go in very tight and have preload. You should get aprox .008 back lash. Again watch some videos. This can be done without a whole lot of special tools.
As noted above the Dana 35 is a disappointment waiting to happen. Don’t waste a dime on it. A Dana 44 or a Ford 8.8 swap is a much better choice.
As noted above the Dana 35 is a disappointment waiting to happen. Don’t waste a dime on it. A Dana 44 or a Ford 8.8 swap is a much better choice.
There is nothing wrong with a Dana 35. Millions on the road with little failures. For a daily driver and mild off road they are fine. Once you get into big tires, rock crawling and mudding there are better choices.
I am NOT doing a 44 conversion right now.

I know the difference. I know that a 35 is "weak". Right now, I don't care. This is not a rock crawler, or a mud buggy. It's a toy. Summer convertible, winter bad-weather go-anywhere toy. I've had crawlers in the past (YJ, XJ) and I know the difference. This, is not that.

Eventually? Yea, I may do 44's front and rear. But right now, I just want it to run, quietly and reliably. It's 100% bone stock, no lift, no performance mods, nothing. I got it a year ago because I wanted to find a nice, solid, rust free 4.0 before they all rusted away - that, is what this is for me right now. Solid, clean, fun, reliable.

So, I haven't pulled ALL of the pinion bits out yet. I undid the yoke nut, pulled the yoke, and the gear literally fell into the empty pumpkin with one bearing still pressed on, and the crush sleeve still on the shaft. The seal is still installed; I saw the outer bearing and both cones still in the snout. Are there shims on a crush-sleeve pinion too? I thought those were an either/or....

Still locating an FSM; I do plan to have it in hand before I start assembly. But I left those pieces in place mainly for reference for when I start the actual assembly. The only "mistake" I made was, I didn't note the orientation (I did note L and R) of the carrier bearing caps - one side of them is flat, one has a bezel. I assume the bezel faces the carrier? I'll have to look and see if I have any photos (I took some before disassembly) that show the stamp marks so I can ID positioning....but all the other items (shims, bearings, etc) are zip tied together, in the positions where they belong.
pinion gear is in the freezer, in hopes of an easier inner bearing removal....none of my pullers will do the job, any suggestions? maybe just a chisel between the backside of the gear, and the edge of the bearing, to try and push it up and off?

I have a press, for installing the new one (which will also be frozen for a while before installation)...
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