The Better Protection Plan - B&M Differential Cover Install

By: Jeff Huneycutt | 05/15/2020 < Back to Motor Life Home

Modern 4x4’s are surprisingly capable. If you are looking to get out on the trails, you can have a lot of fun on the easier routes without spending a ton of money on upgrades. 

Of course, we all know how that goes: A successful day of fun on the easy trails immediately leads to plans for tackling the tougher stuff and the mods to your ride necessary to make it happen. After all, nobody wants to be stuck on the “bunny slopes” forever. 

And it’s definitely true that growing your skills and tackling the tougher trails is the way to continue upping the fun factor in off-roading. As the difficulty ramps up, it is a good idea to start thinking about a few intelligent mods to your ride to help with both durability and capability. If you are smart, you can create a great trail rig that will last for years without breaking the bank. That doesn’t mean giant light bars and 20-inch wheels. Instead, to increase the capability of your 4x4, the best first mods are usually a winch and larger tires (along with a lift if necessary).

That’s obvious, but just as important is considering the durability of your ride. Two of the best additions to help make sure you make it home when you begin upgrading your rig are axle armor and rock sliders. Here, we are taking steps to protect the axles on a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited with a pair of diff covers from B&M.

The idea here is to replace the stock, stamped-steel diff covers with heavy duty nodular-iron cast covers from B&M. With a 5/16-inch thick flange, the cast B&M cover does a good job of strengthening the entire axle structure, versus the stamped steel stock unit designed only to keep the gear oil from pouring out of the housing. Axle-housing flex can lead to accelerated gear wear and broken axles, so this is a very legitimate way to improve durability. 

But there are additional benefits to this mod. Besides strengthening the overall structure of the axle housing, the B&M diff covers have a few additional features that are very cool. For instance, they integrate a dipstick into the fill port so you can easily and quickly check fluid levels and quality. This is important because if you are wheeling in creeks or mud bogs, water entrapment in the axle housing can be very damaging to your axles, ring and pinion, and lockers. With the B&M covers, you can quickly pull the dipstick and check for water or mud on it.

Also, both the dipstick and the drain plug have been fitted with magnetic tips to collect any metal fragments that might be floating in the gear oil. So not only do the magnets keep any metal out of your gears, but they also make it easy to spot any metal in your oils to help you diagnose any driveline issues before it can become a failure on the trail.

The Wrangler we’re upgrading is a 2012 Unlimited. It has been outfitted from the factory with the very common Dana 30 up front and a Dana 44 in the rear. We’re using B&M part numbers 12310 for the Dana 30 diff cover and 12312 for the Dana 44. Dana 30’s and 44’s have been used in a wide variety of vehicles over the years, and these diff covers should work with any of them. B&M also has a wide range of cast iron and aluminum covers for a huge range of vehicles. And best of all, they are all made right here in the USA.

For this swap we spent only approximately 30 minutes on each end of the Jeep doing the swaps. They are quick and easy to install and require only common hand tools. We even did it with the Jeep sitting flat on the ground. No lifts or even a jack necessary! 

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