Jeep TJ/LJ EASY Ford 8.8 Swap

So you’re wanting to take your 1997-2006 Jeep Wrangler TJ to the next level. That’s great, no better time to start than now!

The problem you have been facing is finding information on a Ford 8.8 swap for your TJ. It’s like a scavenger hunt finding exactly what parts are needed to accomplish this upgrade. No sweat, I will go through by far the easiest way to Ford 8.8 swap your Jeep TJ.

For those of you who are lucky enough to own a Jeep Wrangler LJ, this guide is for you too!

Do I need a Ford 8.8?

No, you do not need a Ford 8.8. It is although a worthy upgrade for you to think about depending on how much offroad you use your Wrangler for. A great reason to use a ford 8.8 is the ability to comfortably run larger tires; 35″+. Finally, it will give you peace of mind on the trails with a beefy Dana 44 equivalent axle.

First off: Did you know that the Dana 44 was a factory option for a 1997-2006 Jeep Wrangler TJ? Have you checked if yours is already equipped with it? This may be your lucky day.

Run outside or in your garage. Look at the rear axle, see which axle yours looks like!

How to tell the difference between a Dana 35 and a Dana 44:

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dana_44

Does your axle look like the one on the left or right?

If yours looks like the one on the right – then I personally would not do a Ford 8.8 swap. Instead, focus on upgrading your front axle to match the strength of the rear.

Which Ford 8.8 should I get?

The best Ford 8.8 is one with factory disc brakes. This is because Ford 8.8’s with drum brake come configured with a “C-clip” design. Ford 8.8’s with disc brakes also come with a factory standard limited-slip differential and offer gear ratios from 2.73, 3.08, 3.27, and 3.55:1.

Below is a table of Ford 8.8’s that have factory disc brakes.

Why are C-clips bad?

C-clips are known to fail inside the differential, when they do fail it will cause catastrophic damage. If the Ford 8.8 you bought has a C-clip, then you can purchase a C-clip eliminator and convert your drum brakes to disc brakes.

http://mototux.blogspot.com/2008/09/why-c-clip-axles-are-evil.html

What vehicles can I get a Ford 8.8 with disc brakes from?

YearModel
1986-2014Ford Mustang
1982-2012Ford F-150
1982-1996 Ford Bronco
1991-2011Ford Ranger 4.0L
1991-2001Ford Explorer
1985-2011Ford Panther 

Why should I upgrade to a Ford 8.8?

What parts do I need for Ford 8.8 swap in a 1997-2006 Jeep Wrangler TJ?

This guide will only review the easiest way to do a Ford 8.8 swap. There are many other ways to accomplish this task, but all require extensive knowledge of suspension geometry. With this method, all we need is a welder or a buddy with a welder.

  • Ford 8.8
  • Axle Truss
  • Drive Shaft
  • Gears (If applicable)
  • Locker (If applicable)

Ford 8.8 Axle:

In the chart above you can see which year, make, and model the Ford 8.8 was offered in. The best plan of attack is to either contact your local junkyard and see if they have an axle available or to search places like Craigslist, eBay, or Facebook marketplace.

What does a Ford 8.8 Look like?

How much does a Ford 8.8 Cost?

The Ford 8.8 can be obtained for $100-$1000 depending on the condition. I know it is a big range, but it greatly depends on the location and the condition of the axle.

The average Ford 8.8 in working order will cost $550.00.

Ford 8.8 TJ Axle Truss:

There are two major manufactures of the truss required to mount a Ford 8.8 to your Jeep TJ; Barnes4wd and Altec Industries.

The truss will come in pieces, but each piece is keyed for easy installation. This piece will require welding – I will not be going over how to install a truss in this write-up. A video below can be found on welding a truss to an axle.

I will say, many make welding a truss super complicated. Since the axle housing is cast – It will want to warp when It gets too hot and cools down too quickly. When welding cast it is recommended the part is preheated to ensure a durable weld. The method many uses is to heat the axle up, weld the truss completely to the axle, and then wrap in a foil blanket to control the temperature on the way down, heating it back up in case temperatures are dropping too fast.

Many will not agree with my method, but I’ve had nothing but success with it thus far. I preheat a small corner where I am going to weld. I then throw my weld down, about 1″-3″ long. I then let everything cool back down. Rinse and repeat until the truss is fully welded.

This method will ensure the axle never gets too hot, but it takes all 8 hours of the day to pull off. Once the weld is complete just go inside and watch some TV or what have you.

Barnes4wd Ford 8.8 Jeep Wrangler TJ Truss:

https://www.barnes4wd.com/Jeep-TJ-or-LJ-Ford-88-Swap-Kit-With-Truss_p_498.htmlOpens in a new tab.

Altec Industries Ford 8.8 Jeep Wrangler TJ Truss:

https://www.artecindustries.com/tj88swap-oem?gclid=CjwKCAjwvuGJBhB1EiwACU1AiU2qF3qf5Iv8qPneUX0MQRe6djsoqEdRlmrUPavbl6jex0wE8CEhphoCELcQAvD_BwEOpens in a new tab.

Ford 8.8 Swap TJ Drive Shaft:

The drive shaft for this swap is insanely easy. Tom Woods has the perfect solution for us who are wanting to make this swap happened.

https://4xshaft.com/products/1310-double-cardan-shaft-for-ford-8-8Opens in a new tab.

Some will say just to use a flange adapter for the Ford 8.8 axle swap. The problem with this is, the drive shaft must be completely balanced together or else you may experience driveline vibrations.

Price: $369.99

Ford 8.8 Gears:

https://www.andersonfordmotorsport.com/blog/gear-ratios-limited-slip-and-your-mustangs-rear-end/#:~:text=The%208.8%20was%20built%20with,ratios%20offered%20at%20the%20factory.

Chances are you will have to do a new gear ratio for the Ford 8.8 you bought. Maybe, you were able to find the axle required with the gear ratio you wanted; low odds.

What gears should I use?

You should match the gear ratio that is in the front axle. If you know that the gears have not been changed in the past on your Jeep Wrangler TJ, then you can find the axle tag near the front diff cover. See the image below:

1997-2006 Jeep Wrangler TJ Dana 30/35 Gear Raio Identification

https://torqueking.com/product/sku/jeep-dana-axle-axle-codes-and-build-tags-idn-130/

If you are unsure if your gear ratio has ever been changed then you will need to remove the differential cover to see what gearing you have. Once the diff cover is removed the ratio will be printed on the ring gear. See Image Below:

https://forum.e-bodies.org/engine-transmission-and-rear-end/4/dana-ring-gear-date-code/4923/

If you plan to upgrade both the front and rear gearing at the same time, you can pick a ratio that you desire.

When changing gearing you will need a new carrier to go along with it. That means it is a great time to add a locker to the rear axle.

How much does it cost to re-gear a ford 8.8?

When only re-gearing a Ford 8.8 it will cost around $300.00, When re-gearing both the Ford 8.8 and the front Dana 30 on your TJ. It will cost around $600.00.

If you have a shop install the new gears:

Ford 8.8: $600-$1200

Ford 8.8 and Dana 30: $1200.00-$2400

Ford 8.8 Locker:

When re-gearing an axle, typically a new carrier will be required to support the gear ratio you desire. May that be 4.10, 4.56, or even 4.88:1. A locker of your choice will help accomplish your ford 8.8 swap goals.

What locker should I use with the Ford 8.8?

It all depends on your budget. If you’re on a tight budget a lunchbox locker will help you out, but can make driving on the road a bit different from the factory.

Aussie Locker:

https://www.torqmasters.com/aussie_locker_xd_48831_ford_8_8_31_splineOpens in a new tab.

If you have a medium-sized budget and want to retain factory on-road driving characteristics, but lower offroad performance. You can check out a limited-slip differential.

Price: $309.99

Eaton Tru-Trac:

https://www.strangeengineering.net/product/ford-8-8-31-spline-eaton-truetrack.html/Opens in a new tab.

If you have a decent budget for a locker and want to retain all factory on-road driving characteristics and have maximum performance off-road, you can check out a selectable locker.

Price: $562.00

ARB Air Locker:

https://www.4wheelparts.com/p/arb-ford-8-8-inch-31-spline-air-locking-differential-rd81/_/R-BHWQ-RD81?ppcfon=1&gp=1&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=SC%20Shopping%20-%20NTM%20Desktop&ecmp=s:google_12315961633_120604084271__aud-637006771809:pla-303621017713&gclid=CjwKCAjwvuGJBhB1EiwACU1AiV1DTnwFOV6H8qgdLZS_jzL3k7c8McOsi3zUTxtkxNgl5XWBZFT83hoCLbUQAvD_BwEOpens in a new tab.

Price: $999.00

Total Ford 8.8 swap cost:

$1,847-$2,947

Is there an easier option for a Ford 8.8 swap?

Yes, but easy always means more expensive. You can check out East Cost Gear Supply for their turnkey Ford 8.8.

https://eastcoastgearsupply.com/i-2763540-ford-8-8-rear-axle-bolt-in-tj-assembly.htmlOpens in a new tab.

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