14 Bolt Locker Options

A 14 bolt rear axle is one of the simplest and cheapest strength upgrades you can do when you need a strong rear end.

Because they're cheap and strong, some of the options are a little different than other axles, and usually those options are also more budget-friendly.

This is the best source you'll find on choosing a 14 bolt locker, so read on!

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Table of Contents

What You Need to Know About the 10.5" Corporate 14 Bolt

Like any axle, the Corporate 14 Bolt has some unique characteristics. Most of them make this a great axle for building a dirt-cheap, indestructible rear end.

 We're only looking at full floating 14 bolts with the 10.5" ring gear. If you have a 9.5" 14 bolt, the traction aids in this article will not help you!

Incredibly strong carrier

The carrier on the 14 Bolt is an incredibly strong 2 piece design. In fact, it's 8620 heat-treated alloy, the same material that is used in some of the lockers on this page. What does this beefy design mean for you?

For some traction-aiding setups, you simply need to split the the carrier (easy with hand tools) and slap it back together. No gear setup!

Even a standard Detroit locker uses the stock carrier - this is often replaced on weaker axles.

There are lockers that replace the carrier. On those installations, you'll need to set up your gears.

14 Bolts Have a Carrier Break

As gear ratio goes numerically higher (like 3.73 to 4.88) the ring gear gets thicker and the pinion gear gets smaller in diameter. For manufacturing and performance reasons, manufacturers often change the carrier at a midpoint in a gear ratio range to deal with the smaller and smaller pinion and the thicker ring gear.

This means that there are two different carriers that come in a 14 bolt axle.

So:

The carrier breaks for a 14 bolt are:

  • 4.10 and numerically lower ("4.10 carrier")
  • 4.56 and numerically lower ("4.56 carrier")

Carrier breaks matter because aftermarket gears will usually only fit a certain carrier break. If you're changing gears in your 14 bolt, or you might in the future, you may need to pay attention to your carrier break.

Which carrier do you want?

First, you can swap 14 bolt carriers if you need to. The gears will not swap, though! 4.10 carrier gears will not fit 4.56 carriers, and vice versa.

This can be a little complicated to think about, because some setups replace the carrier and some don't. Most aftermarket gears and lockers (that replace the carrier) are designed for the 4.10 break.  

So, think about it like this:

14 Bolt Carrier Break Logic
If you: You:
Buy a traction aid that replaces the carrier Will need 4.10 carrier gears, since replacement carriers use the 4.10 carrier dimensions
Buy a traction aid that uses the stock 4.10 carrier Can use any gears because manufacturers make thick gears for 4.10 carrier
Buy a traction aid that uses the stock 4.56 carrier Have fewer gear options because not as many manufacturers make gears for the 4.56 carrier

So, if you have the option and you're sticking with the stock carrier, you should probably buy a 14 bolt with a 4.10 and numerically lower carrier break.

If you're putting in a carrier-replacement, the carrier break won't matter to you.

If you need a 4.10 carrier, it's possible to buy them new, although they're a little pricey. It might be worth it to look at traction aids that replace the carrier instead, thus giving you a 4.10 carrier.

Replacing the Case vs. Replacing the Spiders

14 Bolt Locker Carrier Differences
If your locker replaces the 14 bolt's carrier, you'll have more work to do setting up gears.

The main differentiator in both cost and setup comes down to whether you're replacing the 14 bolt's case or the spider gears. Traction aids that replace the spider gears (stuff inside the case) are easy and can be done in an afternoon.

Traction aids that replace the case take much longer and require gear setup. This takes longer and requires you to be more careful since you'll need to measure things like backlash and check your 14 bolt's gear pattern.

But!

Make sure you read our caution below about being careful during disassembly.

Replacing the 14 Bolt's Case Vs. the Spiders
Replace the spider gears Replace the case
How much time? A couple of hours 1/2 day to a day, depending on experience
How much money? Less expensive More expensive
Strength Usually weaker (but 14 bolts have a strong case) Usually stronger
Types Automatic, Mini-Spool Automatic, Limited Slip, Full Spool, Selectable
Gear setup? No Yes
Special tools? No Yes, for gear setup

Caution!!

The 14 bolt uses adjusting nuts to locate the carrier in the housing.

This is good because you don't need a case spreader to drop the carrier.

However:

If you just randomly spin the adjusters out, you'll have to at least check the backlash. Both nuts are right-hand thread. Read about adjusting 14 bolt backlash here.

If you carefully mark and count the adjuster turns, you can skip the backlash step. Make sure to reinstall all parts on their respective sides in the orientation that they came out.

30, 35, or 40 splines?

Standard 14 Bolt axles have 30 spline axles. If that isn't enough, there are several companies now offering setups to convert your 14 bolt to 35 and 40 splines.

Fortunately, some manufacturers are also making 35 and 40 spline 14 Bolt lockers. We'll point out where to get those below.

Do you need 35 or 40 splines?

If you need to ask, the answer is no. 14 Bolts are incredibly strong. Once you start snapping shafts and when you have tons of cash to burn, then you should start checking out larger shafts.

14 Bolt Locker Types

There are 14 bolt lockers for most budgets. The great thing about 14 bolts is that they are usually so cheap that you can splurge a little on a locker or other parts and still come in cheaper than something like a Dana 60 rear. Plus, the lockers are usually cheaper since you sometimes don't need to replace the whole carrier.

Here are the basic options:

  • Selectable: This is the best of both worlds. You can choose to run your axle unlocked for road cruising, then lock your axle for off road use. Also great for unlocking an axle off road for advanced 4x4 maneuvers.
  • Automatic (Full and Lunchbox): Automatic lockers lock your axles together when you need it and unlock when going around turns. They're okay on the road and great off road. Nicer on your tires than a spool. There aren't full auto lockers available for the 14 bolt since none of the auto lockers actually replace the carrier.
  • Spools: Spools lock the two axleshafts together so they always spin at the same speed. They never unlock. Terrible on-road, good off-road depending on what you're doing, and eat tires if you do a lot of pavement.
  • Limited Slip Differentials (LSDs): These are not lockers. They aid in traction and have great road manners. However, they never actually lock your axles together. Easy on your tires.

Selectable 14 Bolt Lockers

Sorry, there is only one! No one else will make one.

Selectable lockers are the most versatile lockers you can get. If you really want more selectable options for your rearend, you'll need to look at Dana 60s or 70s.

ARB 14 Bolt Air Selectable Locker - MOST VERSATILE LOCKER ON AND OFF ROAD

14 Bolt ARB Air Locker
This is currently the ONLY selectable locker for the 10.5" GM 14 bolt axle.
14 Bolt ARB Air Locker Specs
Replaces Carrier
Strength High
Traction Type Fully locked or Fully unlocked
Road Manners Excellent
Off Road Performance Excellent
Gear Setup? Yes
Special Tools? Gear setup
Warranty 5 year unlimited mileage

Crazily, there is only one option for a selectable locker for 14 bolts. People have been asking Yukon, Ox, and Eaton for years to make a selectable locker. There is only one. It's made by ARB.

This locker is the best of both worlds:

  • It unlocks on the street so that you never have squirrely handling.
  • It locks off road when you want so you have traction.
  • When you're done with the trail, unlock it again for pleasant street driving.

This locker is controlled by air - you need to pressurize it using a compressor or air tank. This also means that the installation is a little more complicated than a standard locker. You need to hook up a compressor, run an air line, and setup gears.

If you can afford it, this is the best locker you can buy for your 14 bolt.

Automatic 14 Bolt Lockers (Full and Lunchbox)

There are two types of automatic lockers. What we'll call "full" and "lunchbox".

Full lockers replace the carrier and everything inside it. Lunchbox lockers only replace stuff inside the carrier. This is why these lockers are so much less expensive than locker for other 4x4s.

In the case of the 14 bolt, the carrier is so strong that none of the available auto locker options do a full carrier replacement.

What we have instead is more like 2 versions of a lunchbox:

  • One replaces everything in the carrier, like the Detroit and Grizzly
  • The other replaces just a few select parts, like the Torq and Lock-Right

The Detroit and Grizzly lockers replace most of the stuff inside the carrier with ultrastrong parts. The Torq and Lock-Right lockers replace the minimum parts to give your 14 bolt a locker.

If you need serious strength and you have the budget, we'd generally just say to drop in the Detroit or Yukon Grizzly. If you don't really beat on your junk and you need a more "cost effective" option, go for a Torq or Lock-Right locker. It's worth mentioning that Torq lockers have been used in comps.

Both lunchbox locker types are easy to install - since the 14 bolt has a ridiculously strong carrier you don't need replace it and re-setup your gears.

14 Bolt Detroit Locker - A 14 BOLT STANDARD

14 Bolt Detroit Locker
This locker has long been one of the standards for strength.
14 Bolt Detroit Axle Specs
Replaces Spiders 'n Stuff
Strength High
Traction Type Automatic Locking
Road Manners Good
Off Road Performance Good
Gear Setup? No
Special Tools? No
Warranty 1 Year

The Detroit locker has been one of the go-to lockers for 14 bolts for years.

Why?

It's bulletproof, it's easy to install and it gets you one of the strongest lockers in one of the strongest axles. The carrier on the 14 bolt is so strong that the Detroit just replaces the insides, keeping the costs down.

Have fun trying to break it!

14 Bolt Yukon Gear Grizzly Locker - EXCELLENT WARRANTY

Yukon Gear 14 Bolt Grizzly Locker
Installing this is a little more involved than a lunchbox locker, but it doesn't replace the carrier.
14 Bolt Yukon Grizzly Locker Specs
Replaces Spiders 'n Stuff
Strength High
Traction Type Automatic Locking
Road Manners Good
Off Road Performance Good
Gear Setup? No
Special Tools? No
Warranty 1 Year + $2000 damage parts and labor

The Yukon Grizzly is very similar to the Detroit. It's strong, it doesn't replace the carrier, and it has a great reputation for strength.

You can see this locker used in Ultra4 Racing!

But one thing we really like about it?

It has one of the best warranties of any of the lockers here.

The warranty is good for 2 years and will cover up to $2000 in damage for parts and labor. There are some caveats to the warranty, but it's longer than almost every other one except the ARB.

14 Bolt Torq Locker - USED IN ULTRA4

14 Bolt Torq Locker
This locker only replaces the spiders, not the carrier. Super simple install. (AKA lunchbox locker)
14 Bolt Torq Locker Specs
Replaces Spiders
Strength Medium
Traction Type Automatic Locking
Road Manners Good
Off Road Performance Good
Gear Setup? No
Special Tools? No
Warranty 2 Year

This is a super simple lunchbox locker. It runs smoothly on the street, installs easier than a Lock-Rite, and is pretty inexpensive.

We wouldn't expect this to be as strong as the Detroit or the Grizzly since it doesn't replace as many parts. However, the president of Torq, Cora Jokinen, runs Torq lockers in her Ultra4 Dana 60-equipped race rig.

14 Bolt Powertrax Lock-Right - BEEN AROUND THE BLOCK

14 Bolt Powertrax Lock-Right Locker
This locker only replaces the spiders, not the carrier. Super simple install. (AKA lunchbox locker)
14 Bolt Lock-Right Specs
Replaces Spiders
Strength Medium
Traction Type Automatic Locking
Road Manners Good
Off Road Performance Good
Gear Setup? No
Special Tools? No
Warranty 2 Year

Lock-Rights are time-tested and proven lunchbox lockers that have been around forever. They are easy to install, although the pin/springs can be a little finicky.

Like the Torq, they aren't as strong as a full Detroit or Yukon Grizzly, but if you are into more mild wheeling and want an automatic locker, this is a great choice.

14 Bolt Spools

Spools. Some people love 'em, some people hate 'em. If you drive on the street that much, we recommend you stay away from spools.

Why?

In a corner, the spool doesn't let the tires turn at different speeds. This means you'll get chirping and faster tire wear. Some people say they think this is more predictable than a Detroit and they don't mind it, but know that it'll get old on a street-driven rig for most of us.

On the trail?

They aren't bad - they fully lock your axles, just like a fully selectable locker in locked mode.

But you can't ever unlock them, so you might get some weird handling. If you need to go in a straight line - think mud bogs and desert racing, spools can work really well. Full spools also usually support the ring gear better than the stock carrier.

If you think you want to run a spool, also consider welding the gears. This'll work just like a spool and you can try it out on the cheap.

If you weld the gears, be careful not to mess it up! If the welds break, you'll end up with metal chunks floating around in your axle!

Yukon Gear Full 14 Bolt Spool - HARDCORE RING GEAR SUPPORT

Yukon Gear 14 Bolt Full Spool
A spool locks your axles together permanently. This one replaces the carrier completely.
Yukon 14 Bolt Full Spool Specs
Replaces Carrier
Strength High
Traction Type Always locked
Road Manners Terrible
Off Road Performance Okay
Gear Setup? Yes
Special Tools? Yes
Warranty 1 Year

This is your strongest and lightest option if you want a full spool. This spool completely replaces the carrier, so you'll need to setup your gears.

Your axles will be locked together 100% of the time.

Yukon Gear 14 Bolt Mini Spool - CHEAP TRACTION

Yukon Gear 14 Bolt Mini Spool
A spool locks your axles together permanently. This one only replaces the spider gears.
Yukon 14 Bolt Mini Spool Specs
Replaces Spiders 'n Stuff
Strength Medium
Traction Type Always locked
Road Manners Terrible
Off Road Performance Okay
Gear Setup? No
Special Tools? No
Warranty 1 Year

Mini spools are really just a low cost way of spooling your 14 bolt. This one doesn't replace the carrier, just the insides of the carrier. This means that you can do this installation in a couple hours and have fully locked axles.

14 Bolt Limited Slip Differentials (LSDs)

Limited slips are not lockers!

They'll never get you "locked", but they will give you extra traction. They essentially work by making friction, but this friction will be overcome if the lack of traction is too great.

In other words, they'll never work as well as a selectable locker, automatic locker, or spool at delivering equal power to both wheels.

This is actually pretty nice on-road and for very mild offroading. 

Limited slips come in two flavors: clutch type and worm gear. The clutch type can be rebuilt, but the worm gear type cannot.

Yukon Dura Grip 14 Bolt Positraction - CLUTCH LSD

Yukon Gear Dura Grip Limited Slip
Not a locker and will give you less traction than a true locker. Has rebuildable clutches.
Yukon Dura Grip 14 Bolt Specs
Replaces Carrier
Strength High
Traction Type Reduces wheel slip
Road Manners Very Good
Off Road Performance Okay
Gear Setup? Yes
Special Tools? Yes
Rebuildable? Yes
Warranty 1 Year

The Dura Grip is an LSD that has clutch-style Raybestos pads. To install it, you'll need to setup your gears since it replaces the carrier.

If you pick one of these up, you'll also need to use a friction additive in addition to your gear oil.

14 Bolt Detroit Truetrac - GEAR LSD

14 Bolt Detroit Truetrac LSD
This is a not a locker, but a limited slip. It'll get you extra traction, but not as much as a Detroit locker.
14 Bolt Detroit Truetrac Specs
Replaces Carrier
Strength High
Traction Type Reduces wheel slip
Road Manners Very Good
Off Road Performance Okay
Gear Setup? Yes
Special Tools? Yes
Rebuildable? No
Warranty 1 Year

The Truetrac is a worm-gear style LSD. It has no clutches inside and doesn't need a friction additive. It replaces the 14 bolt's carrier, so you'll need to setup your gears to install this limited slip.

You don't need friction additive in these! Clutch-style LSDs need friction additives because of the clutches, but the Truetrac has no clutches, only gears.

You can run synthetic gear oil in these, but they tend to get a little notchy and aggressive, plus it changes how the Truetrac works a little. Our rec: Use regular non-synthetic gear oil.

Eaton 14 Bolt Positraction - CLUTCH LSD

14 Bolt Eaton Positraction LSD
This is not a locker. It's a limited slip with rebuildable clutches. Not as much traction as a locker.
Eaton 14 Bolt Positraction Specs
Replaces Carrier
Strength High
Traction Type Reduces wheel slip
Road Manners Very Good
Off Road Performance Okay
Gear Setup? Yes
Special Tools? Yes
Rebuildable? Yes
Warranty 1 Year

The Eaton Positraction is another clutch-style limited slip unit. Like the Yukon, you'll need to setup your gears when you install it.

Don't forget to add friction additive to your gear oil.

Last updated: October 11, 2019