AXLE UPGRADES, REPLACEMENTS & SWAPS
WHEN THE TRAILS DEMAND MORE
If you’re the kind of off-road enthusiast who pushes your vehicle through serious off-road conditions, beefing up your vehicle’s axles may be on your radar. Southern Off-Road Specialists has been in the axle upgrade game for over 20 years – needless to say, we know a thing or two! From simple re-gear jobs to full on solid-axle swaps, SORS has done it before and worked out the kinks.
Perhaps you know that you need some axle work done, but aren’t sure which upgrades will get you to your vehicle goals. Luckily for you, our team of experts has compiled a list on the different levels of axle upgrades as well as their strengths, the type of off-roading they’re best suited for as well as the cost level. Read on to learn about axle upgrades and which is best for your vehicle.
UPGRADING YOUR AXLE
Completely replacing your vehicles axle(s), as fun as it sounds, isn’t always the best plan of attack. For both strength and performance, there are several upgrades that can be made to an axle that will drastically increase its validity off-road. In fact, a simple upgrade to the vehicles front and rear differentials may help you achieve what you’re after. The most common upgrades you’ll make to an axle before replacing it with a new one are as follows: ring/pinion re-gears and lockers for performance, and upgraded carriers, sleeves and gussets for durability.
Replacement ring & pinion gears are easily the most common performance modifications made to the vehicles. By swapping your vehicle’s stock ring & pinion gears, you can dramatically effect the nature of how your vehicle delivers power to the wheels. For instance, changing to a lower ring/pinion gear ratio (numerically larger) in your differential(s) will multiply the amount of torque delivered to the wheels at once. Increased gear ratios are extremely useful for rock crawling and other low-speed, technical forms of driving as they allow the vehicle to deliver more power at lower speeds. The addition of locking differentials is very common for serious off-roaders. Simply put, locking differentials “lock” both ends of the axle together forcing both wheels to spin at the same time. This is necessary in extremely slick conditions, technical crawls and off-camber positions where one wheel is in the air. With a locked diff, you ensure that your tires don’t slip and give up precious traction.
A common approach to reinforcing a vehicle is to “sleeve and gusset” the stock axle. This practice reinforces the entire assembly, first by adding metal sleeves within each axle tube as an extra layer of strength and protection. A gusset kit, comprised of additional metal framework that is welded to critical points on the axle, adds to the structural integrity of the entire assembly. Together, the right gear ratio and structural reinforcement work together to make an axle stand up to the additional payload that comes with running larger, heavier off-road wheels and tires. However, the effectiveness of this method depends entirely on how large of a demand you’ll be putting on your axle, and your wallet. In some cases, it may be more cost effective to consider a full axle upgrade, leading us to our next section
Not all axles are created equally, and many axles are limited as to the level of stress they can take before things start to break, even with aftermarket upgrades. Ultimately, the decision whether or not to upgrade your entire axle assembly ultimately comes down to your goals. For instance, if you have a Jeep JK with a stock Dana 30 front axle, and you want to run 40″ mud tires, you need new axles. Luckily for you, there are plenty of axle options out there that are built to hold up to the stresses that come with large tires and heavy off-roading.
At Southern Off-Road Specialists, we source all of our axles from well respected, proven manufactures like Dana, Dynatrac, Currie AND G2. Dana has been major OEM’s go-to for medium to heavy duty axles for almost half a century now, and they’ve provided the axles for vehicles from Ford, Chevy, Jeep and just about any other manufacturer you can think of. Today you can order Dana’s most popular axles, (the medium duty Dana 44, and the seriously beefy Dana 60) straight from their warehouse and fit it into your vehicle as you see fit. Dynatrac offers enhanced versions of Dana axle designs with off-road specific design tweaks like higher ground clearance. For those who don’t want to go down the Dana path, Currie offers aftermarket axles based on tried and true designs like the Ford 9-inch.
SOLID AXLE SWAPS
If you’re looking to build a serious off-roader or crawler out of a vehicle that came with an independent front suspension, you may want to consider a solid axle swap. While independent front suspensions are great for on road driving, most typical factory IFS systems can’t match the level of articulation and ground clearance possible with a live axle. For serious off-roaders and crawlers looking to build a vehicle this articulation is a must. Southern Off-Road has been performing solid axle swaps for over 20 years now, and our team of experts can not only swap a premium solid axle, but make it look and perform as if it came from the factory that way. Our custom 4-link setups handle almost anything you can throw at them, and look killer to boot.
Looking for a quote on axle or other driveline upgrades for your vehicle? Contact the experts at SORS today! We’ll help you pick out the best solution for your needs and work you up a formal estimate so you know exactly what your upgrades will cost you.