No matter what your reason for wanting to swap your ring and pinion gears, there are some basic — but critical — things to note, understand, and prepare for before tackling the job.

In this video, Summit Racing tech adviser Carl Pritts walks you through each and every step, with a few important pro tips and insights along the way.

The 4 Steps for Swapping a Ring and Pinion

1. Correctly Identify the Rear Axle

You can use this infographic as a reference guide.

2. Note the Current Gear Ratio

It’s usually found on a tag on your rear axle cover, but not always. Car dealers can help with your late model, but the surest way to know is by counting the actual gear teeth and doing the math. Summit Racing has a handy gear-ratio calculator you can use also.

3. Choose a New Gear Ratio

Things you’ll need to know:

  • Vehicle weight
  • Vehicle use
  • Performance goal

Pro Tip: When using an auto transmission with a stall converter, choose a gear ratio that puts cruise rpm 500-800 rpm higher than the stall rating of the converter.

4. Choosing and Installing Your Ring and Pinion

First, you have to choose your new set. Here’s how:

How to Choose a Ring and Pinion in 4 Steps

Then, you need to have a professional do the work unless you have the proper tools, which according to Pritts is a pretty intense list.

Tools you’ll need to have:

  • Pinion depth gauge
  • Dial indicator
  • Small micrometer
  • Hydraulic shop press for bearings
  • Torque wrench
  • Bearing race and seal drivers
  • Brass drift
  • Sockets, wrenches, screwdrivers you probably already have.

Specific procedures and torque specifications vary by axle, so pay attention to the manual, Pritts said.

Lastly, there are three critical measurements you’ll need to make, which are:

  1. Pinion Depth
  2. Pinion Bearing Preload
  3. Backlash

For a thorough overview, including some visual aids, check out the video here:

Author: Matt Griswold

After a 10-year newspaper journalism career, Matt Griswold spent another decade writing about the automotive aftermarket and motorsports. He was part of the original OnAllCylinders editorial team when it launched in 2012.