Jeep enthusiasts often wonder whether it is safe to use 35-inch tires on a Dana 30 axle with a 2007-2014 Jeep Wrangler. A lot of the dealers have also begun lifting Jeeps to installing 35s before selling when the ideal thing would be to stick to 33s. So, what has led to these aggressive upgrades? Have the axle housings on JKs suddenly grown stronger?
Can A Dana 30 Axle Handle 35-Inch Tires?
The Dana 30 in a Jeep JK cannot handle bigger tires than the factory-installed tires. When coupled up with larger tires, their shafts can snap, and the housing can easily bend. So while you shouldn’t put 35s on a Dana 30, there are ways to do so after strengthening the axle.
These practices have been seen with the and as JKs with the Dana 44, which has a weaker front housing that is susceptible to cracks and twists. If you choose to install 35-inch tires on your Jeep with a Dana 30, the best you can do is to strengthen and fortify your front housing with special strengthening kits for front housing.
A Dana 35 cannot handle 35-inch tires without modifications either.
As Jeep enthusiasts, we’ve upgraded our Jeeps in many ways. As such, we’re in a good position to tell you all about whether a Dana 30 can handle 35-inch tires.
How to Strengthen Your Dana 30
To be honest, the stock Dana 30 axle installed in the front of base JK models isn’t the champion of the trail. When someone questions its ability to handle the trail, the two terms that come to mind are “ordinary” and “bare minimum.”
This is one of the reasons why the Rubicon comes with a much stronger Dana 44 axle. However, it is sad to know that even the stock Dana 44 has certain shortcomings. However, these weaknesses shouldn’t keep you from enjoying your next off-roading adventure.
If you are smart, you will drive safely and make some simple but effective upgrades to enable your Dana 30/44 axle to drive smoothly across the terrain.
Now you might be wondering, why splurge on extra upgrades when it is possible to replace the assembly with something stronger? Anyone in your position would have the same question in mind.
Before you choose to act on your gut feelings, spare a moment and think about the ROI. It is perfectly alright to have a one-ton axle in mind, but you can still make some wise investments.
If you invest smartly in stock pieces, you can enable your JK to handle 35-inch tires with a Dana 30/44 axle system and enjoy the ride of your dreams.
Moreover, the heavy one-ton axle isn’t the best choice, as it will cost you extra bucks at the gas station, and you can’t afford to factor that out.
Will It Fetch a Decent Resale Value?
A decade ago, the used JK axle market was alive and doing very well. However, even if you visit the market today, you will land a decent Dana 30 axle somewhere between $700 and $1500.
The price bracket we have quoted depends on the possibility that the axle you purchase will contain some valuable upgrades that will enhance your axle’s strength, as well as your driving experience.
However, it is worth remembering that the prices of these axles depend upon the condition of the parts and the amount the buyer is willing to pay.
The idea over here is that just because you don’t have $10,000 to splurge on a pair of heavy-duty axles doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to build and customize your vehicle for a great driving experience. You can make little upgrades at a time, thus saving sufficient money for your swap project in the winter season.
Making Your Axles Survive
Before moving forward, it is important to understand that our recommendations are specifically for people who choose to drive on difficult trails. If your end goal is to drive and explore, you will do just fine with stock axles.
Axle performances can be a little tricky and confusing.
You will come across people who use Dana 30 with 40-inch tires, and their axles have never been broken. Such stories are rare, and therefore, your job is to be careful.
A Pro Tip:
Whether it is a Dana 30 or a Rubicon 44, before installing bigger tires, it is important to replace the ball joints.
The factory-installed ball joints are fine for mild driving in the city. However, in reality, they contain plastic liners that tend to wear off with time, which makes it difficult and dangerous for you to drive on tougher trails.
Worn ball joints result in poor handling and wobbling. Some sturdy aftermarket ball joints include Alloy USA, G2, and Synergy.
Instead of plastic, these ball joints contain sintered metal, which is a great alternative to plastic. They also contain Chromoly balls, studs, and beefy housings.
Dana 30 with 35s
The Dana 30 in a Jeep JK cannot handle bigger tires than the factory-installed tires on difficult trails. When coupled up with larger tires, their shafts can snap, while the housing can bend easily.
Moreover, its ball joints aren’t sturdy enough, and they cannot withstand the test of time.
This is a shameful situation because the JK only needs a slight lift to the suspension to install bigger tires like the 35s.
The first thing you need to do is sleeve or truss the bendable tubes while reinforcing the relatively weaker Cs. It might seem a little unusual and extreme, but in reality, it is much easier to truss the axle before it starts to bend. Interestingly, even if we were to replace stock tires with those of the same size, even then, we’d have to replace the ball joints.
The factory-installed shafts must also be ratted out while replacing them with stronger ones. It is important to ensure that the new shafts accept the 1350 series U-Joints. Surely, it is also necessary to have the right gearing which can match the 35s tires. These upgrades don’t come cheap, and they should be done in stages if you don’t have a large sum of money to invest.
Interestingly, the Dana 30 and the Rubicon 44 have almost the same thin and bendable tubes. As discussed above, trussing and sleeving are the two options that can keep the tubes from bending. One out of two trusses is likely to be stronger than the other.
However, it is important to have them installed by a professional welder. If you hire a novice for this job, chances are the axle will get warped during the process, thus wasting your entire investment.
As discussed above, upgraded axle shafts can also provide your axle with some much-needed strength. You must invest in the ones made from strong Chromoly steel for an extra boost. Reinforcement of the Yoke area strengthens the area that often fails.
Look for the ones that are made for full circle retaining clips. This upgrade will surely prevent the U-Joint from walking off and eventually snapping.
Front Dana 30 with 37s
No matter what people tell you, you cannot drive a Dana 30 with 37s on a difficult trail. Even if you are careful, things will continue to break.
Even if you make all of the above-mentioned upgrades, the thin tubes, small rings, and pinions will continue to get in the way.
If you drive aggressively and like to bring your drive to a screeching finish, you should be prepared to invest in spare parts. Or, you can rat out the existing axle for a new one, which also doesn’t come cheap.
On the bright side, certain swaps can help your axle handle 37s. Dynatrac’s ProRock 44, Currie’s RockJock 44, and G2’s CORE 44 are some good options.
However, they differ in some aspects. What’s common between them are stronger housings, stronger axle shafts, and larger pinion gears and rings.
Sure enough, they are much more expensive compared to spending extravagantly on Dana 30 mods. However, when you add up the cost of those parts along with the installation costs, the sum isn’t that phenomenal. The best thing about these swaps is that they buy us some peace of mind.
We don’t have to constantly worry about breaking and cracking axle parts.
The Final Word
The Dana 30 is not the strongest axle in the world. It fails to handle bigger tires, and the stock components are not strong enough to survive on difficult trails.
You have two options. You can swap it with a new one or add in some mods, which can be costly if done at the same time.
You can add these modifications one by one, but when you combine the costs of these modifications, they will be more than the cost of replacing the axle with a stronger one.
Before taking either of the two approaches, make sure to factor in your budget and your driving habits.