What Are Jeep Lockers and When to Use Them?

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Jeep enthusiasts and off-roaders know that terrible feeling when you get stuck in the mud. Not all Jeep Wranglers can easily drive over different types of rugged terrain. That’s where Jeep lockers come into play.

Here is an in-depth guide on what Jeep lockers are, how much they cost and how you can install them on your own Jeep!

What are Jeep lockers?

So if you’re new to the Jeep world, you might be wondering exactly what Jeep lockers are. Jeeps that have lockers in the axle hubs have the needed traction to help them to get out of the mud and other sticky situations.

It is important to equip your Jeep with lockers and a solid limited slip differential so that you are able to conquer whatever is in your Jeep’s path. Most stock Wranglers are already equipped with an open differential which works extremely well until you get stuck because only one wheel will be spinning. This is where it becomes very useful to have lockers for your Jeep Wrangler.

When to use Jeep lockers

Jeep lockers should only ever be used on vehicles that will be used for extreme off-roading or drag racing. If you’re not going to be driving in mud or over rocky, tough terrain then you should definitely hold off on getting lockers.

Going off-roading without lockers on your Jeep Wrangler can become very dangerous. There should not be any reason that your Jeep Wrangler is not equipped with the proper lockers if you are interested in going off-roading.

Which Jeep Wrangler has lockers?

Jeep Wranglers are one of the greatest and most capable off-road, all-terrain vehicles. However, not all are created equal. There are different models that are capable of withstanding different environments but all of them come with a locking mechanism or are ready to have the lockers installed.

The Jeep Wrangler does have the option for lockers on them, however the Wrangler X only has the option for a rear locker. The Wrangler Rubicon has front and rear lockers and the Wrangler Sahara has no lockers at all because it is a larger model that comes equipped with other features.

While some models have small Dana 30 axles and lockers good for up to 33″ tires, some models came with Dana 44 axles front and rear that can be built to handle 40″ tires. It really depends on what Jeep you have and it may even depend on how old the vehicle is as well.

How do Jeep lockers work?

A locker is designed to “lock” both wheels of the same axle together so that they both move at the same speed and with the same amount of force. This allows the wheels to have an equal amount of traction.

They come into play during situations such as driving over rocks, self-recovery and helping to recovering other vehicles that may be stuck in the mud. When a Jeep is rock crawling, the traction and terrain is continuously changing direction, angles, and lines. When you lock the front and rear differentials, equal power is sent to the front and rear axles.

Automatic Lockers vs Selectable Lockers

Automatic Pros:

  • It is always ready when you need it
  • Much quicker and very simple installation
  • Best price

Automatic Cons:

  • The on-road handling is impacted
  • Offers a lot of resistance on sharp turns
  • It is very possible for your tire to skip when cornering
  • Always makes a clicking sound
  • Can impact handling in snow severely
  • It is always engaged until you let your foot off the throttle

Selectable Pros:

  • When disengaged it always acts as a normal open differential
  • You have precise control over when it is activated
  • Doesn’t affect on-road handling when disengaged

Selectable Cons:

  • Can cause severe damage to differential if you forget to disable it
  • Has much more complicated installation
  • Always more expensive
  • Has many more components to fail
  • Needs to always be manually activated

How much do Jeep lockers cost?

The cost of lockers may vary depending on what you are looking for. Typical Jeep lockers can cost anywhere between $500 – $700. Online, there are many sales that take place where you can find lockers for a great price. eBay, or Amazon are where many people go looking for what they need.

Always keep an eye out for a drop-in price or when sales go live, there are a lot of suppliers who want to get rid of their product before the next shipment of inventory hits their shelves.

How to install Jeep lockers

You can easily purchase install kits online if you are interested in installing lockers on your Jeep Wrangler. There are several steps needed in order for you to properly install them on your Jeep.

  1. Remove tires, brakes, rotors, and axles in accordance with your vehicle’s manufacturer’s service manual. Drain oil and then remove the carrier. You should also check seals and clean entire housing.
  2. Install your bearings and shims in accordance with your manufacturer’s service manual. Keep in mind that not all install kits will have everything needed included in the kit such as bearings and shims.
  3. Check your pattern in accordance with your manufacturer’s service manual. The gear set up should be done by a certified mechanic. Take a look at this article if your wondering how much it costs to regear a Jeep.
  4. Torque the bearing caps to 45 ft lbs. Install axles, rotors, brakes, and tires. As always, make sure to install them in accordance with your manual.
  5. Take note that the cable has a short fitting and a long fitting. Short fitting goes into the cover.
  6. Install short fitting into the cover. Screw the cable rod in first and then the fitting as needed.
  7. Leave about 2 – 3 threads out of the piston that slides in the cover. Then, run cable through the outside of the spring and shock. Do not place differential cover on yet.
  8. Run cable behind brake line between the upper and lower control arms and over the skid plate. Then, run the cable as far away from the exhaust as possible. It is highly recommended that you run it behind the lines.
  9. Keep cable behind the lines, away from the exhaust and into the grommet hole. Then, remove the grommet. Drill the grommet with a 13/32 drill bit. Cut from the center of the hole outward.
  10. Install cover on to the differential. Make sure the fork slides on the locking ring. Install differential cover bolts supplied and torque to 30 ft lbs. Then use gasket or sealant in accordance with your manufacturer’s service manual.
  11. Assemble the shifter and then thread the piston into the rod end of the cable. Make sure to leave 5/8” gap and to use medium strength Loc-Tite.
  12. Place spring on piston and into the swivel fitting on the shifter. Then, thread the swivel fitting until it touches the shift rod as shown.
  13. Shift several times into lock and unlock. Check the shift on the unlock position. Make sure it is still touching, if not adjust accordingly, then tighten the two screws on the swivel fitting, tighten the lock nut, and install your shifter.

Lockers are most useful in situations like rock crawling, self-recovery, and the recovery of others. In rock crawling you are likely to have a lot of changes in traction between different rocks and angles, so it’s possible the wrong wheel could spin. Lockers are designed to give you more traction when needed, whether you are off-road or just pulling someone out of a ditch.

Installing Jeep lockers can take many different steps, but if you follow your installation kit instructions by each step you should have them installed in no time. Remember, if you are having trouble, it is best to take your Jeep to the mechanic shop so a professional can install them for you.