Evolution musings (long intro and a locker advise needed)


It's interesting how life changes. Many years ago I started my adventure in outdoors on my own two feet.... with time I moved to a Jeep Cherokee - stock, used with a crappy 2.8 V6.... many years later picked up a 98 XJ with 4.0, kept it stock for years and it took me many places. Then it "grew" - picked up a lift, bigger tires, gears, lockers (detroit full case lockers F&R) and so on. Rolled that, picked up a 97XJ, 4:1 case, 2L and it grew even bigger..... Still have that, though it sits mainly in the driveway.

Picked up in 2012 a JK Sport with the intention of building it but I ended up keeping it mostly stock... - Gave it Rubicon springs with 1.5" spacers and Rubicon tires and rims (33" MT's). I also regeared the axles to 4.11's so that it will handle the bigger tires and pull the trailer that I built for it.

Kept it mostly on the pavement and fire roads but with the purchase of UrsaMinor it looks like we might venture a bit more away from the beaten path. Funding is always key (plus I just dropped a fair chunk of $ on the UM) so I'm scratching my head trying to decide which way to go and what to hunt for.

I live in SoCal so ice and snow are rare, but we do venture from time to time to visit the white stuff. This makes me not want to go down the detroit route, though I have to say I love them (never failed me). Of course if I had the $ I'd swap out my sport for a Rubi as that gives me pretty much everything but again, $.

So for those of you that venture out (no rock crawling, just going out on the adventure) - if you were to lock your axles, would you go front or rear first? I'm leaning towards the front as the rear can be "helped" with the use of the parking brake and the front is usually more wanting due to weight distribution. Tempted to see if I can find a deal on an electric locker .... as I think that's going to be the route I'd want to go (hate the idea of dealing with a compressor or cable).

I would definitely recommend a front locker first. First reason being that there is more weight in the front of the vehicle and pulling something vs pushing has been proven time and time again is more effective. Plus like you said the rear can be helped by brake applications where as the front is much more difficult. I would definitely go with something electronic and fully controllable compared to something like a lsd or Detroit

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I have a front locker (ARB) and a rear LSD. The diffs are Dana 60 and Dana 70 respectively.
With the front locked, the vehicle pretty much only goes in a straight line.
Next time they will be the other way around or LSDs front and rear. I find that the Dana LSD is very effective. If I go for another locker it would definitely be another ARB.
OKA196 motorhome
No you should go rear first having owned jeeps since. 1977 I learned the hard way. I drive a gladiator now rubicon. And have been driving rubicons. Since they came out I always lock the rear. First If you lock the front then steering is stressed as you try to turn. You will break an axel. It significantly reduces your ability to adjust your line while traversing a difficult line
A good way to go is rear locker front winch


Well-known member
In 2WD all the power goes to the rear dif, 50% right, 50% left.
In 4WD thru a locked transfer case 50% of the power goes front, 50% rear meaning each wheel only gets 25% of the power which is why most 4x4s have a bigger rear dif, lighter front dif. ie D70 rear D60 front as in Peter n Margrets unit or D60 rear d44 front as in my F250.

Generally a locker adds stress to an axle. An open dif sends half the power left, half right until something slips at which point there is no load on the driveline. If you lock the front dif with an open rear dif, the rear axle might have zero traction, ie it is on ice or wet rocks coming out of a water crossing.... and all the engine power is going to the one front tire on dry granite with traction. It is possible to send 100% of the power to that one front tire with traction altho it was only designed, intended to take 25% of the power. And a heavy right foot could be disasterous.

Definitely lock the rear first.

Jeeps Rubicons with factory lockers will not let you lock the front until the rear is locked. Jeep also knowing the use they were designing for put D44s at both ends on the Rubicon. The rest of the Wranglers come with a D30 front, D35 or D44 rear.


FWIW, your 2012 should have traction control, and especially in low range, it should do a really good job of keeping you going if tires get light. A full on locker is better for all out rock crawling, yes, but if you learn to let the traction control do it's job, it's amazing where your Jeep will go with just a little wheel slip. In my experience, adding an lsd like a tru-trac or factory trac-lock will make the brake traction work even better...

If you really must have a locker, there are two opposing trains of thought. One is that a lunchbox locker is less noticeable in the front when you're in 2wd, and still tends to pull you through things in 4wd.
The other is that the locker should go in the rear axle because it's usually stronger. Also, climbing is when you're most likely to have issues, and that's when the weight is on the rear axle more, so a rear locker is just that much more helpful... I personally run a rear locker in my TJ, but I rarely use it becasue I tend to just ride the brakes to get the front tru-trac and rear rubi locker to bind up some...

Good luck!!!


I have a ‘13 Sport with ARBs front and rear engaged by an under-hood mounted ARB Twin compressor.

Heading Out

93 YJ, 4.0 5sp, D44 rear, D30 front, I have ARBs front and rear.
I usually engage 4X4 before the lockers, Always lock the rear ARB first
and only use the front when needed, and that is a rare situation, as the
Jeep is not used as a rock crawler.

My advice is lock the rear first, not the front , as Billiebob and others explained above.
I like the ARB because it works well and can be locked only when needed,
The Jeep will "Push" when the rear is locked in 2wd.

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