Ring & Pinion Gears

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Automotive Ring & Pinion Gear
Automotive Ring & Pinion Gear

The ring and pinion gear are very important parts of the axle, and without them the vehicle would not move, under its own power. A ring gear is installed in the differential at a 90 degree angle, while the pinion gear is attached to the pinion yoke. As the driveshaft spins, the rotation is sent through, to the pinion gear, this gear spins and in turn, spins the ring gear. This is how the vehicle is able to transfer the direction of the spinning driveshaft, going the length of the vehicle to the pinion gear inside the differential,to spin the tires forward or backward.

A pinion gear can range in size, relative to the requirements of the vehicle, and is typically a rounded cone shape. A ring gear can vary in size, and is matched to the corresponding pinion gear. The ring gear typically has gear slots, in the shape of a crescent, which helps the pinion gear, grip better and reduce friction, at high speeds or heavy loads.

Gear ratio is a major factor to take into consideration if the ring and pinion gears are to be replaced. To figure out the gear ratio, only simple math is needed, count the number of teeth on the pinion, and the number of teeth on the ring gear,then divide the number on the ring gear by the number on the pinion and you have the ratio. For example, imagine there are 41 teeth on the ring gear and 10 teeth on the pinion gear, that would be 41 divided by 10 equals a 4.10 gear ratio. This means that for every 1 rotation of the tire the driveshaft will rotate 4.10 times.

The confusing part is that the ratios seem to go against common sense. Switching from a 4.10 ratio to a 3.72 ratio is actually switching to a higher ratio because the drive shaft is now spinning 3.72 times for every 1 tire rotation. Whereas going from a 3.72 to a 4.10 would be lowering the ratio. The typical gear ratio range for passenger vehicles, is between 2.48 to 3.08.

What this all means is that the lower the ratio, the more torque that is applied to the wheels. Depending on the type of driving the vehicle is subject to, a high or low ratio may be desirable. If the vehicle is for drag racing, a low ratio would work best, while a vehicle that is designed for highway cruising, would be a better fit to have a higher ratio to keep the engine RPM’s down, and increase fuel efficiency.

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