Jeep YJ EASY 1-ton axle swap

I know you have thought about doing a 1-ton axle swap at least once since you have owned your jeep. You started digging into the details but realized it was way too expensive, hard, or complicated.

I’ve been there, multiple times actually. I’m just too hard-headed and stubborn to stop trying. So I went ahead and assemble this guide that breaks down every part you will need to do this; the simple way that is.

I’ve found that the internet has really over complicated just about everything jeep-related. It is time to lower our expectations and realize we are driving 25-30-year-old boxes that get 9 MPG and could flop on a curb in the mall parking lot.

For a 1-ton swap in a Jeep Wrangler YJ you will need the following items:

  • Axles
  • Gears (If applicable)
  • Lockers (If applicable)
  • Brake lines
  • Drive shafts
  • Hangers
  • Leaf springs
  • Shocks

What are the best axles for Jeep Wrangler 1-Ton Swap?

For Jeep Wrangler YJ’s from the factory, they come with a driver-side differential and driver-side transfer case drop. This means we will look for a driver-side differential 1-ton axle.

Here is a list of the driver side differential axles that we should look for:

Year Make Axle DropTypePerch Distance
1978-1979FordDana 60DriverLeaf spring31 1/2 “
1985-1991FordDana 60 (King Pin)DriverLeaf Spring36 1/2″
1992-1998FordDana 60DriverLeaf Spring36 1/2″

Which axle is the best to use?

This guide is cheap and easy – don’t overthink it.

1992-1998 Ford Dana 60

Have a couple of extra bucks?

Sorry, I meat hundreds. Go King-pin! But you may be searching a while, they’re less common than your beloved waggy d44.

1985-1991 Ford Dana 60 king Pin

Want to know what is rarer than a kingpin ford axle?

The 1978-1979 Dana 60 from an f250

How much should 1 Ton axles cost?

1992-1998 Ford Dana 60: $600-$1200

Kingpin Axle: $1500-$2800

Ford D60 Prices:

Can I use Dodge one-ton axles for my YJ?

Yes, but I would only use the 1973-1993 dodge kingpin axle. Costs will be higher when using this axle because this guide does not line up with using this axle, as well as this is a kingpin axle. So they demand a premium! For good reason.

Would I use a 1994-2002 dodge dana 60 from the 2nd gen for a Jeep Wrangler YJ?

No, it is a CAD axle. They are not worth building! Even if you decide to give up much-needed strength, there is hardly any aftermarket support for this axle.

Would I use a 2003-2015 Dodge/Ram dana 60 from the 3rd gen for a Jeep Wrangler YJ?

Yes! The Dodge AAM 9.25 33 spline axle from a 2003-2015 Ram 2500/3500 is a great axle choice if you find a good deal. While there is not much after-market support for this axle, WoodlandFab is working on amazing builder parts for this axle now.

I must say, lockers will also be a challenge for this axle. If you plan on running a selectable air locker, ARB has options for you. If you would like a selectable E-Locker, Eaton has discontinued their locker for this axle. So it is really the question of ARB air locker or welding the spider gears.

For my project, I am using this axle. I plan on running the WoodlandFab 3 Link kit and an ARB air locker. You could also go use the WoodlandFab Dodge AAM 9.25 axle truss and 4 link kit.

Can I use a Chevy axle for a Jeep Wrangler YJ?

Chevy axles have a differential on the passenger side. To use a chevy axle you would need to change the transfer case out to one that will support a passenger-side drop. As far as this guide is concerned, it will add too much cost to justify using a chevy axle.

Do I have to do front and rear 1-ton axle at the same time?

No, as long as the axle you plan to put in matches the existed axle on the vehicle you do not have to do both at the same time!

Gears & Lockers

This section is broken into 3 parts:

  • No budget
  • Small budget
  • Big Budget

No budget:

If you’re on a tight budget do not worry about this right now! Make sure both the front and rear axle you purchase has the same ratio. You can install gears and lockers later when funds allow!

For now, let’s focus on getting them under the jeep.

Price:

$0

Small budget:

For a small budget If I was planning to have a designated rock crawler, I would most likely install full spools front and rear with stock gearing.

Spools only price:

DIY: $350

Shop: $500-$1000

If I planned to drive on the street a lot I would skip lockers for now and re-gear only. If the budget still doesn’t not support re-gearing then just skip this all together until funds allow.

Re-gear only price:

DIY: $600

Shop: $1200-$2000

Big budget:

With a big budget, I would re-gear and install selectable lockers front and rear. If you have the funds after these purchases you can move on to upgraded axle shafts if you choose.

Re-gear and selectable lockers price:

DIY: $1200-$1800

Shop: $2400-$3500

Brake Lines:

Brake lines are super simple, installation will take around 2-3 hours and require a small welder to weld some tabs onto the axles.

Kit:

Price: $200-300

You can also adapt factory YJ brake lines!

Drive Shafts:

You have 2 options here. Either bring your factory YJ drive shaft into your local driveline shop and have them adapt it to the axle you’re using. (You just need to tell them what axle you’re using) Or use the factory f-250 driveshaft and have your driveline shop adapt to your NP231.

Your driveshaft will not have to be extended for our purposes in this guide. If you choose to go a different route with hangers, then your driveshaft will need to be extended or shortened.

Price: $300-$500

Hangers:

Daves Customs Unlimed has blessed us with the easiest one-ton swap accessory on the market.

https://davescustomsunlimited.com/jeep-yj-full-width-axle-kit-for-ford-front-axle/Opens in a new tab.

Price: $375.00

Shocks:

Your factory shock hoops can be retained, but you will need shocks and shock axle tabs. With this set up we are going to a SOA (spring over axle) configuration. Meaning your YJ’s factory shocks will now be too short.

Shock tabs:

Price: $28.000 (for 2)

Shocks:

Price: $88.00 (for 2)

I am not saying to use Skyjacker shocks. You get what you pay for, these will do the job for an inexpensive price.

Total Price for YJ One Ton Swap:

As you can see, a one-ton swap is pretty darn easy on our 30-year-old antiques. If you have been wanting to go with 37″ tires or even 43″ tires for a while now but your cheap dana 30 has stood in the way; do this!

If you go with the cheapest method possible. This is what I tell people to do at first! Get the axle under and the vehicle driving so you can move on to gearing, lockers, axle shafts, etc without drama.

Total Pice:

$1800-$2300

Depending on the prices of axles in your area.

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