Hung on Your Diff!”
takes a demo hit for the team.
How many times have you heard that one out on the trail? Even the
worst spotter is usually bright enough to let you in on that information.
The fact of the matter is this - the front and rear differential
probably come into contact with more trail obstacles than any other
part of your rig. (except for the tires, I hope). Thankfully, most
of the differential can take lots of abuse. Unfortunately, the cover
is a weak spot.
The differential cover is of vital importance
on the trail. Crack, dent, loosen, or flat out smash this cover
on a rock and you could be in for a very long night. The cover
keeps the life-saving fluid inside the differential. If you loose
the fluid you’re stuck. I have even seen covers smashed
so badly that the ring gear could not even move!
Several manufactures have come up with solutions
to this issue, but I have only seen one that protects against
almost all possible trail hazards.
Why Poison Spyder Customs?
As always, I like to explore all of the options before making
a decision on a product. Poison Spyder Customs are well-known
for their rock buggies and competition rigs. With all the thought
that goes into those machines, it seems that the concept of the
rock rings is almost obvious.
helmet" style guard (right) can actually hinder your
chances of clearing a rock because of their design and how
they mount to the differential housing.
We could do what most people do and never even think about protecting
the differentials. Drag your rear diff on a rock and peel the cover
back just enough to let the fluid leak and you will change your
mind quickly. In order to fix something as simple as this on the
trail, you will need a catch pan for the fluid, some sort of gasket
remover, tools including a hammer and a flat surface, silicone,
and new fluid. I would rather avoid the whole problem, altogether.
The tubular “football half mask” style diff guard.
They look pretty cool on the diff and do supply some protection
from sharp rocks. I ran one of this type for about six months
and I soon discovered that it had several drawbacks. The size
of the tubes made my differential seem to catch on rocks. I have
actually hooked the tube on rocks, preventing forward progress.
This changed the “you’re hung up on your diff!”
to, “you’re hung up on your diff guard!”
The second problem became the cover bolts. They
received very little protection. I shaved them so badly on rocks
that when it came time to remove them we had to use some locking
pliers. Fortunately, we were able to get them out with a little
The last issue with this style is that they only
bolt to the lower part of the differential. With a hard enough
impact this acts as a lever to extract the bolts and the cover.
This, alone, seems like it would increase the risk of a problem
and not lessen it.
This option is of similar design to Option B but covers the entire
diff cover with tubular protection. This could eliminate the risk
of peeling off the cover from leverage but it is still bulky and
leaves the bolts open to some risk. This design only works on
rigs with lots of axle clearance. In fact, the full mask of tubes
would even interfere with my gas tank in the rear of the TJ.
Ring installed on the Dana 30 front axle.
Maybe we should we just call this one the “Poison Spyder Option.”
The rock ring is a ¾” thick ring of steel that completely
covers the lip around the differential cover. It incorporates a
¼” center skid plate to protect the center section
of the cover while remaining low-profile to clear rocks and vehicle
components. The stainless Allen head bolts replace the factory bolts
and sit flush inside the rock ring. This keeps them totally out
of harm’s way.
The thickness of the ring itself ensures that
it can take a beating without letting the cover peel away. The
rings matched up perfectly to the curves of the diff cover and
bolt to all the holes to prevent it from becoming a lever. The
low-profile and flush-mounted bolts make the cover actually less
likely to snag on something than with no protection at all.
This option is an excellent idea for both the
front and rear differential of your rig. Poison Spyder Customs
makes them to fit all of the most-popular axles. We installed
them on the front Dana 30 and the rear Dana 35 on Project
Cross Trainer. This is added insurance that our daily-driver
will make it to work the day after a good trail.
The Rock Rings sell for $128.50 and after using
them for several months, we are confident that they are one of
the smartest investments you can make for your trail rig - especially
if you are clearance-challenged. Their low-profile, great-looking
design is not only unique but has proven strong enough to withstand
all the abuse we could throw at them during our long-term testing.
Spyder Customs Rock Rings are incredibly
easy to install. You don’t even have to remover your diff
covers. However, it’s probably been a while since you swapped
your fluids, so now is the perfect time.
1. Take out the differential cover bolts. The
silicone gasket will keep the cover in place.
2. Bolt on the Rock Ring with the new bolts to factory torque
specs for your rig.
3. You’re done! Go play harder now!
is a snap. Remove the bolts and then you can either swap
fluids and put on a new gasket or simply install the Rock
Ring comes with all new Allen head bolts. These bolts are
longer than stock and replace the originals.
Ring (left) and "football helmet" style guard
is still plenty of room behind the stock Dana 35 rear axle.
photo shows the abuse we put our diffs through. The stout
Rock Ring has withstood more than enough hits to prove its
with the rock rash, we can still fully access the bolts
for removal the next time we need to swap fluids.
9844 Titan Ct. #11
Littleton, CO 80125