When it comes to off-roading or parts identification, it is important to know which axle is on your vehicle. The Dana 44 and Dana 35 have been used in many vehicles, but there are clear distinctions between them. The Dana 35 is better used as an all-purpose axle, while the Dana 44 and its 8.5-inch ring gear are great for off-roading. For identification purposes, the shape of the differential cover is a dead giveaway. However, there are other differences as well.
The Dana 44 is built with an 8.5-inch ring and pinion and has a spline count of 19 or 27 with two-piece axle shafts or a spline count of 30 with a one-piece axle shaft. The differential cover on the 44 is shaped almost like a hexagon and has a half-inch male fill plug. The Dana 44 axles in the 1950 to 1975 Jeep CJ narrow track and all military 44s have a wheel-to-wheel measurement of 50.5 inches, as does as the Jeepster Commando from 1962 to 1973. XJ model jeeps with the Dana 44 have a wheel-to-wheel measurement of 60.75 inches, while the Dana 44 in the 1997 and up TJ model have a measurement of just 60 inches.
The less robust of the two, the Dana 35 has a smaller 7.562-inch ring and pinion and a spline count of 27. The differential cover is oval with a rubber fill plug or a female, 1/2-inch, square-drive metal fill plug. Axle shafts used in the Dana 35 have a diameter of 2.625 inches, and after 1990, they were held in place with only a c-clip. The 1984 and later Jeep XJ models have a length of 60.75 inches. The 1987 to 1996 YJ models have a 60-inch side-to-side axle length, measured from wheel to wheel.