A simple warning about your poorly designed diff drain bolt.

mgroeger

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Here's the short story:
If you off road make sure you have diff cover skids.
Here's the long story:
The axles that come on the Sport and Sahara (D35 and D30) have the differential drain bolts completely exposed on the underside of the diff leaving them VERY vulnerable to being damaged. This is not the case for the D44 that comes in the REAR of the Rubicons but it does apply to the FRONT D44 in the Rubis.

The Mrs. has a '18 Sahara and I have an '04 LJ. We where wheeling at Uwharie on Sunday and we did our usual trails (I think the damage occurred on Dutch John) and then went to the Outpost to air up and then headed home. 40 minutes into our ride home the Mrs. walkies me and says she needs to pull over and that the Jeep is coming to a stop on it's own. By the time I turn around there is smoke puffing out of the driver rear wheel well. I thought it was the caliper hanging up but the brakes were cool. That's when I noticed the diff was wet and the drain plug had literally been ripped out of the housing at a 45 degree angle and was allowing the gear oil to slowly drip out. I speculate that it took 2 hours from the time the damage occurred until she was seized.
The tow truck got there and the rear axle was completely locked as it was pulled onto the truck. The dealer said that regardless of whatever is going on with the bearing being cooked or gears stripped or anything else inside the axle that the fact that the bolt was ripped out was enough to total the entire axle. There is not enough "meat" on the axle where the plug is to drill and tap a new whole and have it be as good as factory.
Cost? New axle plus labor... $4k.
Called Amica because I knew I was covered and the appraiser agreed with the dealer's assessment.
So what happens next? I take the insurance check, add a couple of bucks to it, tow the Jeep to my buddies house and put brand new D44 Rubi axles with lockers in it and build a Saharacon. Ultimately there is a silver lining to this mess but it's a pain to get to it.





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mgroeger

mgroeger

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LOL... yeah I figured some people would think that :)
Before we did our trip out West I called Amica and was straight forward with them that the Jeeps were our DDs and that we off roaded at least once a month. They said since their primary use was DD and that the off roading was something they were capable of and not done all the time that any damage could be filed for BUT use caution since it is treated just like any other claim.
 

FRANTIC

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Glad you got taken care of, doesnt seem like a hassle at all! That's good to know. Congrats on the saharacon!
 

entropy

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I believe this wouldn't apply if you get the limited slip differential on the sport? since that gets you a dana 44
 
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mgroeger

mgroeger

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I believe this wouldn't apply if you get the limited slip differential on the sport? since that gets you a dana 44
Correct, that gets you the narrow D44 which has the plug on the side.
 

Gellie

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Here's the short story:
If you off road make sure you have diff cover skids.
Here's the long story:
The axles that come on the Sport and Sahara (D35 and D30) have the differential drain bolts completely exposed on the underside of the diff leaving them VERY vulnerable to being damaged. This is not the case for the D44 that comes in the REAR of the Rubicons but it does apply to the FRONT D44 in the Rubis.

The Mrs. has a '18 Sahara and I have an '04 LJ. We where wheeling at Uwharie on Sunday and we did our usual trails (I think the damage occurred on Dutch John) and then went to the Outpost to air up and then headed home. 40 minutes into our ride home the Mrs. walkies me and says she needs to pull over and that the Jeep is coming to a stop on it's own. By the time I turn around there is smoke puffing out of the driver real wheel well. I thought it was the caliper hanging up but the brakes were cool. That's when I noticed the diff was wet and the drain plug had literally been ripped out of the housing at a 45 degree angle and was allowing the gear oil to slowly drip out. I speculate that it took 2 hours from the time the damage occurred until she was seized.
The tow truck got there and the rear axle was completely locked as it was pulled onto the truck. The dealer said that regardless of whatever is going on with the bearing being cooked or gears stripped or anything else inside the axle that the fact that the bolt was ripped out was enough to total the entire axle. There is not enough "meat" on the axle where the plug is to drill and tap a new whole and have it be as good as factory.
Cost? New axle plus labor... $4k.
Called Amica because I knew I was covered and the appraiser agreed with the dealer's assessment.
So what happens next? I take the insurance check, add a couple of bucks to it, tow the Jeep to my buddies house and put brand new D44 Rubi axles with lockers in it and build a Saharacon. Ultimately there is a silver lining to this mess but it's a pain to get to it.
So the front D44s on the Rubis are also vulnerable to the mishap as well?
 
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mgroeger

mgroeger

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D60

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Any ideas on what we can do about the front?
Tack the drain plug in or skid it.

Note that in 2hi nothing up front should spin, so if you're aware of the condition (leak) running in 2hi whenever possible on the trail will get ya out just fine. I'd have no qualms about using 4wd as needed on obstacles, there's just not enough speed or heat generated to hurt much. The only problem I'd see is if you were facing miles of muddy or sandy terrain where you had to use 4wd just to get off the trail, and this is assuming you've lost ALL your gear oil
 

Seanst34

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Carry some gear oil in your survival kit as well as bubble gum and a roll of Flex seal tape.
Saved me before deep in the weeds with a peeled back dif cover
 

ALRUI

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Correct, that gets you the narrow D44 which has the plug on the side.
So your rear axle was damaged? Do they make a decent rear skid as well as the front for the Sahara's?
 
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johnparjr

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there are no skid plates for the rear 18 Sahara Ive looked and nobody makes one unless that has changed in the last 3 months since I have looked
 

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