Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
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90 YJ came with a leaf sprung Dana 35...It is crap. Barely strong enough to trust street driving or mall crawling the Jeep. If your friend is only in need of a stock replacement, years 87-95 are the same.
There is no 'bolt in' swap. There were no available upgrades from Jeep that will fit without some work.
You can look for a Dana 44 out of a TJ (97 and up) then cut off the coil suspension cups and weld on leaf spring perches. Or if you want to get fancy. Pull the whole suspension off a TJ and go coils on the YJ. You will also need a new driveshaft as the snout on a d35 is longer than a D44.
A Ford 8.8 out of a 96 and up Explorer is a very worthwhile swap, especially if your friend is gonna be wheelin' the Jeep. The 8.8 is just an inch or so narrower, has the same lug pattern, and adds disk brakes. Again you will need to weld on new perches (the Ford perches are about 3/4 inch off) and replace the rear driveshaft.
Do a search on this forum...Lot's of information on the strength (or lack thereof) of the D35, on the 8.8 swap and converting to a TJ d44.
A bad weekend of wheelin', is still a good weekend.