Ford 8.8-Inch Rear Axle History & Specs - The Ranger Station (2022)

Ford 8.8-Inch Rear Axle History & Specs - The Ranger Station (1)


The Ford 8.8-Inch axle came in a few different vehicles including the:

  • Ford Mustang (1986-2014)
  • Ford Bronco (1983-1996)
  • Ford F-150 (1983-2012)
  • Ford Ranger (1990-2011 4.0L models)
  • Ford Aerostar (1989-1997)
  • Ford Explorer (1991-2001) (The Ford Explorer Sport still used the solid rear 8.8 until 2003)

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.

(Video) Ford 8 8 rear end vs 8 and 9 inch rear axles Which is best for Your Classic Ford

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 4×4 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 5×4.5 wheel bolt pattern. F-150 and Bronco have a 5×5.5 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.

(Video) How To Change 1993-2011 Ford Ranger Rear Axle Assembly

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.

Disc Brakes:

Ford 8.8-Inch Rear Axle History & Specs - The Ranger Station (2)

  • The 1995-2003 Explorer 8.8-Inch axles come with disk brakes.
  • The 2010-2011 Ford Ranger rear axles come with disc brakes.
  • The 1999-2012 Ford F-150 8.8-Inch axles come with disc brakes.

Ford 8.8-Inch Rear Axle History & Specs - The Ranger Station (3)

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 Shaft Splines:

Ford Mustang – The Ford Mustang 8.8-Inch axle from 1986-2004 used 28-spline shafts. The 2005-2014 Ford Mustang 8.8-Inch axle used 31-spline shafts.

Ford Ranger – The Ford Ranger 8.8-Inch axle used 28-spline shafts.

Ford Ranger FX4 – The 2002 FX4, 2003-2007 FX4 Level II, and 2008-2009 FX4 Off Road models had 31-spline shafts.

Ford F-150 / Bronco – The Ford F-150 and Ford Bronco 8.8-Inch axles had 31-spline shafts.

(Video) Ford 8.8 VS Ford 9", which axle is better?

Ford Aerostar – The Ford Aerostar 8.8-Inch axles had 28-spline shafts.

NOTE: 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 2750 lbs and the Explorer axle at 3200 lbs 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.

Axle Tube Diameters:

  • The 1990-2009 Ford Ranger 28-spline 8.8-Inch axle tube is 2.80 inches in diameter.
  • The 2010-2011 Ford Ranger 28-spline 8.8-Inch axle tube is 3.25 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.
  • The Ford F-150 / Bronco 31-spline 8.8-Inch axle tube is 3.25 inches in diameter.
  • The Ford Mustang 8.8-Inch Axle tube is 2.80 inches in diameter.

Axle Bearings:

Ford 8.8-Inch Rear Axle History & Specs - The Ranger Station (4)

  • 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.

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
  • 1989-1997 Ford Aerostar 8.8-Inch Axle – 62.50 inches
  • 1983-1996 Ford Bronco 8.8-Inch Axle – 65.125 inches
  • 1986-1993 Ford Mustang 8.8-Inch Axle – 59.25 inches
  • 1994-2004 Ford Mustang 8.8-Inch Axle – 61.25 inches
  • 1989-1999 Ford Crown Victoria 8.8-Inch Axle – 62.50 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


Ford 8.8-Inch Axle – Specifications – Ring Gear & Differential
Ring Gear Diameter8.8 Inch
Ring Gear Bolts(10) 7/16″ x 20
Differential Cover Bolts10
Pinion Stem1.626 Inches
Pinion Splines30
Pinion Bearing Preload (New)14-19 in lb
Pinion Bearing Preload (Used)8-10 in lb
Back Lash.011″-.016″
Ring Gear Bolt Torque70-85 ft lb
Bearing Cap Bolt Torque70-85 ft lb
Fluid TypeUse hypoid gear lubricant SAE 75W80 or 80W90 (Add 2 oz. friction modifier to axles with limited slips)
Fluid Capacity5 pints (expect to use 2-3 quarts if changing the fluid. More if you have an aftermarket heavy duty cover.
When installing a new ring gear, use the torque specifications recommended by the ring gear manufacturer.
Ford 8.8-Inch Axle – Specifications – Axle Shaft
VehicleSide / LengthSpline / DiameterAxle Bearing
1983-1992 Ford RangerRight Hand / 26.250 Inch28-Spline / 1.21 Inch1563
1983-1992 Ford RangerLeft Hand / 29.125 Inch28-Spline / 1.21 Inch1563
1993-2009 Ford RangerRight Hand / 27.250 Inch28-Spline / 1.21 Inch1563
1993-2009 Ford RangerLeft Hand / 30.125 Inch28-Spline / 1.21 Inch1563
2010-2011 Ford RangerRight Hand / 27.000 Inch28-Spline / 1.21 Inch1559
2010-2011 Ford RangerLeft Hand / 29.9375 Inch28-Spline / 1.21 Inch1559
2002-2009 Ford Ranger FX4Right Hand / 27.250 Inch31-Spline / 1.32 Inch1559
2010-2009 Ford Ranger FX4Left Hand / 30.125 Inch31-Spline / 1.32 Inch1559
1995-2002 Ford ExplorerRight Hand / 27.620 Inch31-Spline / 1.32 Inch1559
1995-2002 Ford ExplorerLeft Hand / 30.500 Inch31-Spline / 1.32 Inch1559
All of these 8.8-Inch axles use 1/2-inch wheel studs.

All of these 8.8-Inch axles have a 5×4-1/2 (5×4.5) wheel bolt pattern

Ford Ranger & Explorer 8.8-Inch Axle Dimensions
1983-1992 Ford Ranger1993-2009 Ford Ranger2010-2011 Ford Ranger W/DiscsFord Explorer
Width WMS-WMS56.50 inches58.50 inches57.50 inches59.625 inches
Axle Tube Diameter2.80-inches2.80-inches (28-spline)
3.25-inches (31-spline)
Pinion Offset Right Of Center2-inches2-inches2-inches2-inches
Pinion Offset Below Centerline1.50-inches1.50-inches1.50-inches1.50-inches
Pinion Length (axle centerline to u-joint centerline):11-5/8 inches11-5/8 inches11-5/8 inches11-5/8 inches
Bottom Of Housing From Centerline5-3/4 inches5-3/4 inches5-3/4 inches5-3/4 inches
Stock Spring Perch Width38-1/2 inches38-1/2 inches38-1/2 inches38-1/2 inches
Axle Spline / Diameter28 / 1.21 inches28 / 1.21 inches28 / 1.21 inches31 / 1.32 inches
Pinion Stem Diameter1.626 inches1.626 inches1.626 inches1.626 inches
Ring Gear Diameter8.80 inches8.80 inches8.80 inches8.80 inches
Ford Ranger FX4 with a 31-spline 8.8-Inch axle should have a 1.32-inch diameter axle shaft.

Identification From Axle Tag:

Ford 8.8-Inch Rear Axle History & Specs - The Ranger Station (5)

The axle tag is bolted to the rear differential cover, and is held on with one of the cover bolts.

(Video) Ford 9-Inch Rear End Identification

From the example above, you can see that the lower line shows the gear ratio, and axle diameter.

Ford 8.8-Inch Rear Axle History & Specs - The Ranger Station (6)

So from that example, we can see that the tag above is a 7.5 inch axle with 3.73 gears.

Ford 8.8-Inch Rear Axle History & Specs - The Ranger Station (7)

The tag above is a 8.8 inch axle, and also has 3.73 gears, but there is a ‘L’ between the ‘3’ and the ’73’. This means that it is a Limited Slip axle.

Ford 8.8-Inch Rear Axle History & Specs - The Ranger Station (8)

The tag above is from a 8.8 inch rear axle in a 2001 Ford Ranger 4×4 super cab with 4.10 gears.

Federal Compliance Sticker:

Another way to identify the axle in a Ford Ranger is from the Federal Compliance Sticker in the door jamb.

Ford 8.8-Inch Rear Axle History & Specs - The Ranger Station (9)

(Video) What's the diff? '69 F100 rear axle

If you look at the ‘AXLE’ section on the label above, you’ll see that this Ranger has a ‘F7’ axle code. Using the chart below, we know that this axle is a 7.5-Inch axle with a 4.10 limited slip.

Axle Codes:

72open 6-7/8″22003.08
74open 6-7/8″22003.45
82open 7.5″27503.08
84open 7.5″27503.45
85open 7.5″27503.55
86open 7.5″27503.73
87open 7.5″27504.10
89 (1992-1998)open 7.5″4.10
89 (1999-2001)open 7.5″4.56
91open 8.8″27503.27
92open 8.8″27503.08
95open 8.8″27503.55
96open 8.8″27503.73
97open 8.8″27504.10
98open 8.8″27504.56
F4L/S 7.5″27503.45
F5L/S 7.5″27503.55
F6L/S 7.5″27503.73
F7L/S 7.5″27504.10
K6L/S 8.8″4.10
R5L/S 8.8″27503.55
R6L/S 8.8″27503.73
R7L/S 8.8″27504.10
R8L/S 8.8″27504.56
(NOTE: 4.56 geared axles ’99-up are 31-spline)


1. Understanding Limited Slip Differential
2. Ford 9 Inch 8 Inch Rear End Bolt On Disc Brake Conversion Kits Tech Talk
(Speedway Motors)
3. Ford Vehicle Noises #7: Rear Axle Howl Due to a Worn Ring and Pinion
4. How to Calculate Your Rear Gear Ratio Without Taking Anything Apart!!
5. Ford Rear Axle Seal Leak Repair
6. Basic ID Ford 9 inch, rear, 8 inch rear end,carrier, center section, Traction Lok, Episode 283 Autor
(Autorestomod Manic Mechanic Gasoline Media)

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