Yukon Gear & Axle Zip Lockers | Air Locker Review

Posted On: 2012-10-01

Lockers, whether they’re electronic or air operated are essential to negotiating difficult terrain. A quality locker system will take you further on the trail than an equally priced lift would. Although there are plenty of quality electronic lockers available it seems as if the consensus is to use air operation. This is probably because air lockers have been the standard for decades, but their caveat is that an air compressor is needed. Compressor’s are typically sold separately, and will raise the overall cost but are worth it if installed properly.

Some pro’s and con’s of the two systems are:

Air Lockers


  • Rugged
  • Tried and true
  • Traction on demand
  • Air compressor is multi-purpose
  • Water resistant


  • Overall cost is higher than others
  • Traction on demand
  • Air lines can snag or melt if not installed correctly
  • Locker will open if compression fails


  • Overall cost is typically cheaper than others
  • Electrical operation
  • Traction on demand
  • Less complicated setup
  • Certain E-lockers revert to a limited slip when open (potential con for some)
  • Water will ruin operation if wiring is exposed
  • Electric motors can fail
  • Relatively new to the market

For our BRC-12 Jeep TJ build we went with Yukon Gear & Axle Zip Lockers, and an ARB air compressor. The Yukon Zip Locker is the latest in air locker technology. It switches the differential from open to locked on demand. Contrary to a limited slip, the Yukon Gear & Axle Zip Locker gives the driver ultimate control when needed. Each unit is manufactured with 4320 Chrome Moly internals for added strength.

The zip locker is available for a variety of vehicles, and is perfect for the midsize daily driver build. Fortunately, Yukon Gear & Axle makes zip lockers for Dana 30/35’s with 30 spline conversions, which is exactly what’s in our TJ.

How an air locker works

First, the air compressor must be turned on, and the lines loaded with air. Typically an air locker system is controlled by a dash mounted switch board. Once activated, compressed air via the compressor is sent through an air line into the differential. The compressed air enters the locker’s piston which actuates the gear that locks the axle.

At this point both tires receive equal power since the axles are locked together. This is ideal for heavy duty off road situations where absolute traction is necessary. When locked, handling is negatively affected because differential wheel speed cannot compensate during turning.

Locker disengagement is as simple as turning of the locker switch. This releases the compressed air and opens the differential allowing normal wheel speeds.

ARB Air Compressor

One of the best benefits from using an air locker system is that the air compressor is multipurpose. ARB’s tire inflation kit retrofits their air compressor so you can refill deflated tires. This is perhaps one of the biggest perks to using an air locker system. We installed our ARB air compressor on the passenger side front of the engine compartment because of space constraints. Even though the compressor fit it didn’t leave room for the tire inflation kit, so some future modifications will be necessary.

Yukon Gear & Axle Zip Lockers Performance

We installed Yukon Gear & Axle lockers in both our 2012 Jeep Wrangler JK and 1999 Jeep Wrangler TJ, and haven’t had a single issue thus far. The lockers performed beautifully during the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, the Jeep Jamboree in Big Bear, and numerous rides in the
Pacific Northwest.