Barney Rubble or Bam Bam

Following up from my last blog post, I’ve got to add some armor to my Jeep. First up, my front diff cover (M210) got banged up, and the bolts got shaved by the Barney Rubble (AOAA) rocks. The Tie Rod also got scraped up but I can scrape/paint it to prevent any rust from spreading, not a priority for me right now. The rear diff cover (M220) didn’t get damaged, but I decided to get both to be safe and so they match.

It took a while to decide on which covers to get. I knew I wanted nodular iron, recessed bolts, and I wanted them to be able to take abeating. I decided to get the ARB diff covers. They’ve got a solid reputation and are reasonably priced. None of the local shops had them in stock, so I had to get them on Amazon. I believe in supporting our brick and mortar stores, but stock is going to be a problem for another year or two.

I’ve never swapped diff covers before, so I did a lot of reading and watched a bunch of videos. As it turned out, it’s not difficult at all. But details matter, like the viscosity of the gear oil and additives, and the torque values for the bolts, and even how to deal with the old oil. I figured I was ready this weekend so I got to it.

There are tons of videos and reading material on how to do this, so I’ll spare you. I’m glad I paid attention to the folks who do this a lot. The toothpaste style 1qt bottles are worth their weight in gold. In fact, I was told to hold on to them once they’re empty, in case I can’t find them the next time I decide to change the gear oil.

I was happy to find the gaskets are reusable, that made the job easier. Once I replaced both diff covers, I wiped both diffs down and went for a 10 mile drive over rough roads. When I got back I checked, and nothing leaked, so I feel like I did a good job. I wouldn’t want to do this for a living, but it was a good experience.

Before this last trip to AOAA, I planned to get diff skid plates. I thought diff covers were bling. Boy was I wrong. The front diff cover hit a rock, and if the impact was just a little harder, my gears would have been damaged. Luck, and a lesson. These two images of the outside and inside of my front diff was an eye opener.

I was happy to find nothing more than slight metalic peach fuzz on the diff cover magnets. I kind of expected that in the front, but was surprised that the rear was nearly perfect too. Good to know Jeep nailed it when they assembled my vehicle.

I’m glad the diffs are protected now, and to be honest, yea, they kind of look cool. If you’re a Mall Crawler, none of this matters for you. If you off road, might want to upgrade your diff covers. Lesson learned.

Next up, if I can summon up the strength, is to replace my stock Mopar Rock Rails with Mopar Performance Parts Rock Rails. The stock rock rails are not beat up too bad, but the new ones stick out far enough to help getting in and out of the vehicle. They’ll also help when folks swing their doors open without paying attention, and when folks leave their empty carts in the mall parking lot.