Ford 8.8 vs Dana 44: Which Is Better?

These two axles are pretty comparable overall, but in general, the Ford 8.8 is stronger while the Dana 44 is less expensive and has more aftermarket support.

Ford 8.8 Overview

The Ford 8.8 was developed to replace the long-lived Ford 9-inch axle. First used in 1983, the Ford 8.8 has seen service in a number of Ford vehicles throughout the years, most of which have been trucks (although the 8.8 was also used in the Mustang from 1986 until 2014 and several of Ford’s Panther body vehicles from 1985 to 2011).

The number “8.8” in this axle’s name refers to the diameter of the ring gear in the differential, which is 8.8 inches. Some versions of the 8.8 came with a limited-slip differential, although this was only available on axles with 3.55 and 3.73 gearing; all other versions of the 8.8 received an open differential.

All Ford 8.8 axles come with disc brakes, and use either a 28-spline or 31-spline shaft (depending on which vehicle the axle was originally used in). The Ford 8.8 is available with a wide variety of differential ratios, which include 2.26, 2.47, 2.73, 3.08, 3.27, 3.31, 3.45, 3.55, 3.73, 4.10, 4.56, and even 5.14. 

While the 8.8 is known to be a pretty solid and reliable axle overall, it is notable for its use of c-clips, which some drivers aren’t fans of. For those who don’t know, c-clips are used to hold the axle shaft in place within the axle housing. 

C-clips work fine in most cases, but have been known to fail in certain situations when they are under a lot of stress.

A bone-stock, 31-spline version of the Ford 8.8 should be able to handle about 400 wheel horsepower without any issues, as long as you’re not driving on slicks or drag radials. If you are planning on using sticky tires or making more power, it’s a good idea to invest in a c-clip eliminator kit and to consider welding your axle tubes. 

Dana 44 Overview

The Dana 44 is a very popular axle that has been around since the 1940s and is still being used today. Tons of vehicles have used a Dana 44 over the years, including cars and trucks made by Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Jeep, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Honda.

The Dana 44 is available with either an 8.5 “or an 8.9” ring gear, and like the Ford 8.8, the 44 was made with a huge range of differential ratios available. You can find a Dana 44 with gearing as tall as 2.72, or as short as 5.89.

The Dana 44 also has a much larger number of different axle spline counts available. Dana 44 axles come with either 10, 19, 29, 30, 32, 33, or 35 axle splines. The Dana 44 can also reportedly handle up to 500 wheel horsepower.

Ford 8.8 and Dana 44 Comparison

So, how do these two axles actually stack up against each other? This comparison can be a little difficult to make because there are several different versions of these axles available, but we’ll try and compare these axles in the most direct way we can.

The main differences to note, as we’ve mentioned, are that the Ford 8.8 is the tougher axle of the two while the Dana 44 is easier to install and is physically smaller than the 8.8. Despite the 8.8 being larger and heavier than the 44, it’s also slightly narrower.

The 8.8 uses c-clips to secure the axle shafts to the differential, while the 44 does not. This isn’t a big deal if you’re not planning on doing any particularly intense driving, but if you are, it may be worth installing a c-clip eliminator kit if you plan on using an 8.8 axle.

One other difference between the 8.8 and the 44 is that the 8.8 features an offset pinion, so you’ll have to take this into account if you plan on installing an 8.8 in a vehicle that originally had a centered pinion.


These two rear axles are pretty similar in terms of their overall size and their intended use, and the community seems pretty divided over which axle is actually the better one to use for offroading or racing purposes. Some people prefer the Ford 8.8 because it’s a bit tougher, while others prefer the Dana 44 because it’s smaller, easier to install, and generally less expensive.

So which axle is actually better? In reality, this is determined by your personal preferences.On the used market, you can find both types of axles in good condition for pretty solid prices.

For us, the differences are too close to really say for sure that one of these axles is significantly better than the other; we’d recommend searching for both and buying whichever one you can find that is in better condition and lies within your budget.