|Ranger Tech ('83-'11)||Product / Build Guide||Other Articles||TRS Events||Overlanding||Ford Ranger Forum|
The Ford 8.8-Inch Solid Rear Axle
The Ford 8.8-Inch axle came in a few different vehicles including the:
8.8-Inch Axle History:
First Use: Ford began using the 8.8-Inch axle in trucks in 1983.
Ranger Chassis Cabs: Ford began using the 8.8-Inch axle in Rangers around 1986 on 'incomplete vehicles' aka 'chassis cabs'. The 1986-1988 (chassis cab) 8.8-Inch axles are distinctive as they are the only 8.8-Inch Ranger rears that have no provisions for a RABS sensor.
Ranger 4.0L Models: The Ford 8.8-Inch axle began regular use in the Ford Ranger starting with the 1990 4.0L models. All 4.0L Ford Rangers are equipped with 8.8-Inch axles.
1998-2011 Super Cabs: 1998-2011 Ford Ranger super cabs regardless of engine size are frequently equipped with 8.8-Inch axles.
FX4 Models: All Ford Ranger 8.8-Inch axles have 28-spline axle shafts except for the 2002 FX4 and 2003 & newer FX4 Level II models which had 31-spline shafts. The FX4 Ranger was introduced in 2002 and always came with 4.10 gears only. The 31-spline Torsen 8.8-inch axle came only with the 2002 FX4 and 2003-up FX4 Level II and more recently was a separate option. The 2003-up FX4 (non-Level II) is essentially the same as the 1998-2002 Off-Road except that a regular Ford limited-slip in a regular 8.8-inch was included.
Ford Explorer: The 8.8-Inch axle came in Ford Explorers (and Mazda Navajo) in 1990 as a 1991 model year. The Ford Explorer used it until it switched to an independent rear suspension in 2002. The exception is the 2002-2003 Ford Explorer Sport which still used the solid rear 8.8-Inch axle.
Ford Aerostar: The 8.8-Inch axle was used in 2WD 4.0L Ford Aerostars, but the All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) Ford Aerostar was equipped with the 7.5-Inch axle.
Ford F-150 / Bronco: The Ford F-150 used the Ford 8.8-Inch axle From 1983-2012 except for 5.4L (including Lightning) and some 4x4 super cabs and higher GVWR models which were equipped with the heavier-duty 9.75-Inch rear axle. It was also used in the 1983-1996 full-size Bronco, and E150 Econoline vans.
Ford Car Usage: The 8.8-Inch is also used in other Ford products such as Ford Mustang's, Ford Thunderbird's, Ford Crown Victoria's, and their equivalent Mercury and Lincoln products.
Mustang Note: Mustang owners have been known to take the left axles from 1990-1992 Ford Ranger 8.8-Inch axles to convert their axles from a 4-lug to a 5-lug wheel bolt pattern, or to replace an axleshaft.
Wheel Bolt Pattern: Ford Rangers, Explorers and Mustangs have a 5x4.5 wheel bolt pattern. F-150 and Bronco have a 5x5.5 wheel bolt pattern.
Miscellaneous: A wide range of gear ratios is available, from 3.08's up to 6.14's. An equally wide array of differentials is also available from open carriers to limited slips to lockers and spools. 8.8-Inch axles can have either 28-spline or 31-spline axles. Gear sets are interchangeable between axles, regardless of the spline count. Differentials, however, are not.
Ford Ranger 8.8-Inch Axle Versus Ford Explorer 8.8-Inch Axle
All 8.8-Inch Ford Explorer axles use 31-spline axle shafts. All 8.8-Inch Ford Ranger axles use 28-spline axle shafts (except FX4 and FX4 Level II which use 31-splines).
The Ford Ranger 28-spline 8.8-Inch axle tube is 2.80 inches in diameter.
The Ford Ranger 31-spline 8.8-Inch axle tube is 3.25 inches in diameter.
The Ford Explorer 31-spline 8.8-Inch axle tube is 3.25 inches in diameter.
Increasing from a 28-spline to a 31-spline axle allegedly increases strength of the axle shaft by 34%, however I'll go by the capacity ratings of the axle assemblies provided by the manufacturer. Ford Rates the Ranger axle at 2750lbs and the Explorer axle at 3200lbs this is a 16% increase in strength, which admittedly may be as conservative as the estimate of axle strength. The Important thing about the Explorer axle assembly (besides its 31-spline shafts) is that its axles are larger in diameter at the outer bearing journal AND the larger diameter bearings used.
Ford Ranger 8.8-Inch 28-spline axle bearing ID= 1.399", OD= 2.25" (1563 bearing)
2010-2011 28-spline 8.8-Inch axles axles use the larger 1559 bearing below.
Ford Explorer 8.8-Inch 31-spline axle bearing ID= 1.618", OD= 2.533" (1559 bearing)
Ford F-150 / Bronco 31-spline axle bearing ID= 1.618", OD= 2.533" (1559 bearing)
NOTE: The 28-spline 8.8-Inch axle uses the same size axle bearing (at the wheel end of the axle) as the Ford 7.5-Inch axle. Many Ranger owners have purchased new axle bearings only to find out that they were sold the bearing for the larger 31-spline 8.8-Inch axle. The exception is the 2010-2011 Ford Ranger 8.8-Inch rear axle. It uses the larger axle bearing.
The 1995-2003 Explorer 8.8-Inch axles come with disk brakes. This is the ultimate stock axle upgrade for your Ranger.
The 2010-2011 Ford Ranger rear axles come with disc brakes.
The axle above in an 8.8-Inch from a 1995+ Ford Explorer. You can quickly identify it as an Explorer axle due to its rear disk brakes and the spring perches mounted below the axle tube instead of on the top. When swapping an Explorer 8.8-Inch axle in to a 4WD Ranger you need move the spring perches to the top of the axle tube.
Axle Width Differences:
1990-1992 Ford Ranger 8.8-Inch Axle - 56.50 inches
1993-2009 Ford Ranger 8.8-inch Axle - 58.50 inches
2010-2011 Ford Ranger 8.8-inch Axle - 58.50 inches*
1991-2003 Ford Explorer 8.8-Inch Axle - 59.625 inches
* The 2010-2011 Ford Ranger 8.8-inch axle is actually narrower and has shorter shafts than the 2009 and earlier models. Ford used rear disc brakes on the 2010-2011 Rangers, so Ford Shortened the axle housing and shafts to compensate for the extra width created by the disc brake setup. These shafts are not going to work in a 2009 and older Ford Ranger 8.8-inch axle. For more information, check out '2010 Ford Ranger 8.8-Inch Axle vs 2004 8.8-Inch Axle
Identifying Your Axle:
can identify which axle you have by the tag attached to the inspection
Looking at that tag, you can see the gear ratio stamped on the lower left, and the axle size (ring gear diameter) stamped in the bottom middle.
So looking at the axle tag above, you can see it's a 3.73 gear ratio with a limited slip in a 8.8 inch axle.
The Ford 8.8-Inch axle can also be identified by the sicker on the drivers door. Check out our Ford 7.5 & 8.8 Inch Axle Code page for a break down of codes.
Ford Explorer 8.8-Inch Axle Swap:
Interested in swapping the Ford Explorer 31-spline 8.8-Inch axle in to your Ford Ranger? Check out our Ford Explorer 8.8-Inch Axle Swap page.