How to Rebuild a Dana 35


A Dana type 35 differential gear is a widely used rear gear in off-road vehicles. Extreme driving conditions can damage important parts, such as the rear gear. You will need to rebuild a Dana 35 rear differential gear after a major break as this is the only way to fix a broken gear of this type. The problem is common, but the fix is easy.

Things You'll Need

  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands
  • Lug wrench
  • Set of wrenches
  • Set of sockets
  • Hammer
  • Catch pan
  • Paint scraper
  • 3-foot pry bar
  • Set of screwdrivers
  • Ring gear
  • Gear oil
  • Park the vehicle on a level surface then raise it with a jack and set it on jack stands. Remove the wheels with a lug wrench and set them aside. Remove the brake drums by hitting them with a hammer and pulling them free from the wheel studs.

  • Use a wrench to disconnect the drive shaft by separating it at the universal joint. Separate the springs from the rear axle housing with the wrench. Remove the differential cover by unscrewing the bolts with the wrench then drain the gear oil from the housing into a catch pan. Always recycle waste fluids according to local environmental regulations. Scrape the old gasket off the differential housing with a paint scraper while the oil drains.

  • Unscrew the Dana 35 center pin's locking pin with the wrench to release the center pin. This locking pin is located on the outside of the housing on the back of the rear axle. Remove the center pin from the gear carrier inside the axle housing. Go to one end of the axle and push in on the end. Return to the differential and pull the clip off the end of the axle you just pushed in. Repeat for the other end then pull both out of the axle housing and set them aside.

  • Loosen the carrier bolts of the gear. Remove these bolts and pull the gear carrier out. Some gears will have shims wedged around the carrier to prevent the gear from moving from side to side. If the carrier does not come out easily, you can gently pry it out with a screwdriver. For hard to remove carriers, use a pry bar but make sure you do not damage the housing.

  • Remove the oil ring gear and replace it with a new one. Torque the retaining bolts to 70 foot-pounds. Reinsert the carrier into the housing. Lubricate the bearing caps with gear oil. Reinstall both axle ends, replace the center pin and tighten the locking bolt on the outside of the axle housing.

  • Install a new differential gasket and secure the differential cover back into place. Fill the differential with gear oil through the fill cap located on the outside of the Dana 35 gear housing. Raise the vehicle with the floor jack and remove the jack stands. Lower the vehicle onto the ground.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use a dial indicator to check the spaces in between the gear carrier and the housing. Insert shims into the gap around the gear housing that equal half the space of the gap. Use Loctite bolt fastener on the carrier bolts inside the housing when installing the new gear during the rebuild.
  • Dented bearings or chipped gears will result in failure of the rebuild. Do not install damaged parts. Debris inside the differential housing will get into the gears and damage them if left behind after the rebuild.

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  • Photo Credit diff image by Dominique LUZY from
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