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Ford Ranger / Explorer Dana 35 SLA 4x4 Front Axle (1998-2011)
The Ford Ranger 4x4 received a new SLA (Short arm Long Arm) suspension in 1998, and used that suspension until its production end in 2011.
Unlike the reverse rotation Dana 35 used from 1990-1997, the Dana 35 SLA is a standard rotation axle. This means that the gears from a 1990-1997 Dana 35 will not work in a 1998-2011 Ford Ranger.
The 1998-2011 Ford Ranger Dana 35 is offset on the drivers side and uses an intermediate shaft similar to the Dana 35 used in previous years, but is not attached to the axle beam as in previous years. Instead, the Dana 35 is fixed in place between the frame rails with (3) bolts. Instead of axle beams, it uses a long arm / short arm setup and CV (Constant Velocity) shafts:
Manual Lockout Hubs:
The 1998-2011 Ford Ranger Dana 35 DOES NOT come with manual hubs. The 1998-2000 model had PVH hubs (Pulse Vacuum Hubs), but from 2001-2011, it was a live axle setup. The front axle shafts from 2001-2011 are permanently locked to the front differential. There is a manual lockout hub available as an upgrade to the PVH Hub setup, but the only way to install manual hubs on a 2001-2011 Ranger would be to swap in the axles and hubs from a 1998-2000 Ford Ranger 4x4.
There are several articles in our 'Axle Section' under 'Locking Hubs' that deal with the PVH hubs and possible modifications & upgrades.
(2001-2011 Ford Ranger Dana 35 Live Axle - No Hub)
(1998-2000 Ford Ranger Dana 35 PVH Hub)
The front differential housing will have a label on the bottom of it:
The label is similar to the one found on the Dana 35 TTB Axle beams of the 1990-1997 Ford Ranger:
The sticker will list the gear ratio across the top (second from the right). If you look closely, you can see that this sticker indicates a 3.55 gear ratio (this sticker is from an Explorer Dana 35). Below the yellow section, you will see 'F87A'. That breaks down as:
F = 1990's
8 = Last number in the year.
A = Ranger/Explorer
So this sticker came off of a 1998 Explorer/Ranger with a 3.55 gear ratio.
For more information on decoding Ford Part Numbers, click HERE.
For a better breakdown and part numbers, click HERE (starts on page 11)
Ranger Dana 35 SLA VS Ford Explorer Dana 35 SLA:
The Ford Explorer received the Dana 35 SLA (often referred to as a Dana 35 IFS) in 1995, and used this axle until 2001. While some believe the Dana 35 is the only axle used in the front of the Explorer, it actually received a Dana 30 starting in 2002. Click HERE for information on the Dana 30 Version.
The 1995-1996 Ford Explorer uses a vacuum disconnect system on the axle - which should not be confused with the PVH vacuum hubs on the 1998-2000 Ford Ranger. The axle disconnect on the Explorer relies on engine vacuum, control valves and an electrical current to activate/de-activate it. This means you can't just install a Dana 35 housing from a 1995-1996 Ford Explorer in your 1998 and newer Ford Ranger.
(1995-1996 Ford Explorer Dana 35 Housing With Axle Disconnect)
(Axle Disconnect Diagram)
Greasing The Hub:
Some people grease the live axle front hubs on their 2001-2011 Ford Ranger by removing the abs sensor, and pumping grease in to the hole.