Jeep U-Joint strap upgrade

Jeep U-joint strap upgrade help eliminate one of the weak links of the stock Wrangler YJ drive train. The Ford Style U-bolts are much stronger that the factory Jeep parts. All it takes is a reliable way to guide your drill bit and drill a clearance hole large enough to accommodate the beefier U-bolts.

Jeep U-Joint strap upgrade for the Jeep Wrangler

Parts / tools I used:

  • 5/16 drill bit in a strong drill
  • A block of wood at least 1" thick. Metal is preferred to make the jig but I used what I had readily available. Actually, I just seen it laying there and said to myself "Oh .. that'll work". But square metal tubing would be much better.
  • 2 - packages of part #81004 Ford U-Joint Retainer Kit available in the "Help" section of most autoparts stores.

I would like to point out something, I guess it's like a disclaimer of sorts. If you get this mod wrong by drilling the holes crooked, you will have to replace the yoke. This is because it will make the walls of the yoke where the U-bolt passes through too thin. Therefore weakening the strength and possibly allowing the new bolts to bust through the thin weak areas. So, my point is, if you are comfortable in doing these types of mods and you have access to a back up vehicle in case things go wrong, go for it. Otherwise get a friend to help drill the holes or take it to a competent shop .. or .. just buy the yoke that already has this upgrade built into it.

Replacing the yoke entirely is a different project all its own. You have to know how to set up the pinion depth to the ring gear. If it isn't set properly excessive noise will result and junk set of gears will soon follow.

For me personally, I did this mod to buy time until I get around to upgrading the rear differential. I could have purchased a yoke that is already designed with the U-bolt feature. But, I really didn't want to spend the money when I plans of ditching the D35 in the hopefully not so distant future. The diff upgrade will be an 8.8 which utilizes a much stronger flat flange drive shaft connection. After doing this yoke mod I still had plenty metal surrounding the U-bolt threads. Yoke strength isn't going to be an issue as long as the holes are drilled perpendicular to the flat strap/yoke mating surfaces. Get the drill bit crooked, the yoke becomes a paper weight.

Video of Jeep U-joint strap upgrade