Differential Armor

Toyota Axle Cross SectionAs seen in the picture on the left, the Toyota axle housing is made from thick strong steel. The differential housing, however, is made from much thinner material... probably because there is no weight bearing stresses placed on this section of the axle.

When on the trail, this section is particularily exposed. It's one of the lowest, if not even the lowest part of the vehicle besides the tires! When driving forward, the front differential is susceptible to hitting things, and when reversing it's the rear differentials turn.

If you happen to dent a Toyota differential housing on a rock or other obstacle, it can push the steel into the ring gear. If it doesn't instantly destroy the ring gear (and in turn your expensive locker as well), it soon will. The ring gear will grind against the differential cover until a whole is made and all of your axle fluid runs out. We know where this is going!

Over the years people have come up with different ideas to protect this area. If you're going with hydraulic steering on your Toyota, the brackets and gussets for protecting and mounting your hydraulic cylinder will ofter protect the differential area. If you're like the rest of us, you have normal steering or hi-steer, and the area remains exposed.

8 inch Pipe Cap Differential ArmorThe low budget, do it yourself version is to find an 8 inch steel pipe cap (it's a half circle /dome shape). Cut it in half, cut a whole at the bottom for draining out mud and water, and enjoy. If you can't find one, or don't want the trouble or like the look, here are some commercial options:

Marlin Crawler Differential Armor:

Trail Gear Small and Large Differential Armor (read cheap and expensive):

4wd.com Option:

Sky Manufacturing: