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Rear Disc Installation

74846 Views 116 Replies 48 Participants Last post by  GladePlugIn
After completing my rear disc installation I decided to post up all of the information I gathered. This post should answer most of the questions asked in regards to converting a drum brake equipped 1997-2004 Dakota/Durango to rear disc. The information has been gathered from my own experience as well as other posters. I used some images from one of 70CUDA383 posts and information from one of Duner posts for Jeep rear disc. Thanks for the info guys!
If anybody has anything to add, post it up and I will edit this thread.

This thread deals with factory rear disc options only and does not deal with any of the aftermarket offerings.

In short, there are no bolt on options for factory rear disc on our drum brake equipped Dakota/Durango's regardless of year of manufacture. All of the options require some kind of modification. Listed below are the options, positives and negatives to each, as well as what is required to make them work.

The absolute best way to swap over to rear disc is to get the complete axle assembly out of an 03-04 Dakota/Durango. If you are swapping from Durango to Dakota or Dakota to Durango the only thing that needs to be changed is the shock mounts. This is a piece of cake when compared to changing the axle flanges.

The primary reason disc brakes will not bolt onto drum brake rear ends without mods is due to the backing plate flange location. The pictures taken by 70CUDA383 show the differences in flange placement.

From these pictures it becomes obvious why the disc brake backing plates will not simply mount onto a drum brake rear end. That leaves us with needing to modify something to make this swap possible.

1. Mid 90's Jeep Grand Cherokee rear disc. This is probably the easiest swap as the Jeep uses the same axle flange location as the drum brake rear ends in our Dakota/Durango's. Duner has completed this swap and had this to say regarding modifications.

Rotors need to be redrilled for the 6-lug bolt pattern.
The center of the backing plate needs to be opened 05" to clear the larger axle tube.
The mounting holes for the backing plate need to be opened up .0625 to mount on the axle flange.
Parking brake cables have not yet been installed but, I can't see that being very difficult.
Rotors on the Jeep are a little bit smaller than what came on the 03-04 Dakota/Durango, they measure 11.2"
These rotors are solid.
This brake setup will fit under 15" wheels.

2. 03-04 Dakota rear disc. The only modification that needs to be done to use these brakes are axle flange relocation. This is not a particularly easy modification. It can be done but it is not fun.

Axle flange needs to be relocated.
Parking brake cables need to be from a vehicle with the same chassis length, they can be found at Rock Auto or obviously the dealer.
The rotors are 12.1" in diameter and are solid.
This setup uses updated single piston rear calipers.
The backing plate has an integrated caliper mount. It is a single piece unit.
This setup requires 16" or larger wheels.

3. 03 Durango rear disc. Like the 03-04 Dakota rear disc the axle flange needs to be relocated. The 03 Durango rear discs share nothing in common with the 03-04 Dakota rear discs.

Axle flange needs to be relocated and flipped on one side.
Parking brake cables need to be from a vehicle with the same chassis length, they can be found at Rock Auto or obviously the dealer.
The rotors are 12.1" in diameter and are ventilated.
This setup uses what appears to be the same caliper that was used on the mid 90's Jeep Grand Cherokee. It is a single piston caliper.
Backing plate and caliper mount are separate pieces.
This setup requires 16" or larger wheels.

The photos below show the differences between the 03-04 Dakota rear rotor and the 03 Durango rear rotor courtesy of Rock Auto. 03-04 Dakota on top with the 03 Durango below.

There may be other options. If you know of any that will work, post them up.

Well after having all this new knowledge if you still want to proceed with swapping your rear drums for discs follow below and I will show how I did it with 03 Durango rear discs.

Before starting you are going to need a pair of these. I cut these on our CNC machine when it became obvious I would need them. They were made from 3/8 plate steel. Trying to remove the factory flanges for reuse is not something I wanted to attempt.

First thing I did was remove the studs. They can be knocked out with a hammer fairly easily. Don't worry about damaging them, they are too short for the disc brakes and will need to be replaced with the proper length stud.
Don't forget to stuff some rags in your axle to protect the bearings.
Below is the stock flange before any work has been started.

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Are all Durango springs underslung? I have a 4WD Dakota and I'm planning on using an 03 Durango rear end.
I used the 03 Durango parts. I got the front and rear for $800 which also included the front differential/axles. I wanted to lower my gear ratio because I have 20"s with over size tires and 3:55s. I tried to find an 03 Dakota 9.25 with 3:92s and limited slip but wasn't able to find one. The durango rear was a little more work, since my truck is a 4WD I had to flip the spring perches and cut my shock mounts off the old axle. For the emergency brake cable, I used the Durango LH cable and my old RH cable since the Durago RH cable wasn't the right length. I had to modify the end by making a clevis. The 2 sides of course didn't match up so I cut the LH cable and used a cable stop tool to put a new end on it. The rear is all done, Now time to get started on the front.

I bought these rotors/pads, hope they work as well as they look.
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has anyone done the 03+ axle swap? curoius about the abs sensor are they the same? what about the u joint not all of them are the same?
I did the O3 Durango axle swap, There's no rear ABS so it's not an issue. If you use a durango axle for a 4WD Dakota, you'll need to cut the spring perches off and weld them on the other side. Also you'll need to weld on shock mounts.
Here's some pics of 03 durango brakes installed on my 2000 Dakota 4WD.

Everything installed easy enough. I used a Durango rear axle which required some modifying since the spring perches were on the wrong side of the axle. I also had to remove the shock mounts from my old axle and weld them onto the durango axle as there were none on it. The durango sway bar was slightly different than the dakota so it required a little modifying. The durango spindles went right into place of the old ones with no problems.

What really had me scratching my head was the emergency brake cable. I could have tried to find a new one which was the right length but I had the old drum cables and the new disc cables already. I decided to try and find a way to use them. My solution for hooking up the emergency brake cable was to use the durango LH cable and the dakota RH cable. The LH cables were both about the same length but the disc brake cable had a metal sleeve which was bent to angle the cable away from the tire. The RH durango cable was much too long so I used the old cable. The problem using the old cables is that the durango cables have an S shaped end and the dakota cables have a stop. I made a clevis out of 1\8" x 3\4" flat bar for the RH side. You can just buy one but I couldn't find a suitable one locally. The cables ended up being slightly different lengths than the original. I was able to take up the difference in the RH cable with the adjuster but the LH cable was about an inch too long. Using a cable stop tool I cut and crimped a new stop on the front end of the LH cable.

Here's some other pics of the finished swap



How they look behind my 20" KMC Stealth wheels:


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I swapped a 2003 4x4 durango rear axle with a 2000 4x4 Dakota and they were the same except for spring perches and sway bar mounts. I ended up just using the durango sway bar which is a little heavier.
did you have an issue with the abs/spedo sensor? or does the newer sensor just plug? in
The plug is the same as well as the brake lines. the E-Brake required some modification and the spring perches had to be moved to the top side of the axle.
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