Tips For Choosing the Right Gear Ratio for Your Pickup Truck

The entire powertrain of your pickup truck works as a system. For this selecting the best gear ratio is hectic. Each engine has that sweet spot at peak power and torque. We always desire for the transmission and axle gear to remain at this point as our truck is hauling or doing any strenuous activity.

The axle ratio is not an entire but only a portion of the overall gearing, and various automakers spend more time and effort in powertrain matching. Powertrain matching is a system approach since the engine, transmission, axles, and tires work as a unit. Here are the tips for choosing the right gear ratios for your pickup truck.

Understand the Axle Ratios

Pickup trucks have a range of optional axle ratios. The axle ratio is the gears in the differential. The differential is a mechanical device that links the drive shaft to the rear axle for effective power flow from the engine. The axle ratio is usually expressed as 3.55:1, meaning when the driveshaft turns 3.55 times for a single wheel to make a turn. 

As truck enthusiasts, it is essential to understand that increasing these numerical ratios increases the towing capacity. An increase in towing capacity increases fuel consumption. Higher gear ratios send more engine torque to the wheels. A truck with 4.73 gears can tow a heavier trailer compared to that with a ratio of 3.55 or 3.21. 

Standard Axle Ratios

A balanced axle ratio balances any pickup truck’s performance, capability, and fuel economy. If you do more towing, the highest axle ratio will be what you seek. A high axle ratio will only reduce a gallon on your fuel consumption. Pickup trucks are generally fuel efficient. Therefore, knocking out a gallon from your consumption brings a significant change.

When selecting the right axle ratio, the drive cycle, which is where and how fast you drive, matters a lot.  When driving slowly in rural areas, a higher gear will give you the best driving experience without damaging the final mpg of your truck. When driving at high speed on highways, a truck with a lower gear will offer the best option as this decreases the engine rpm and improves fuel economy. 

Axle Issues You Can’t Ignore

When choosing the axle ratio, the EPA fuel economy information on the window sticker only applies to the standard axle. Thus, in case you see any axle ratio listed, know it will reduce the fuel economy figures printed on the EPA sticker. 

You cannot easily compare the axle ratio and their effects on towing in every pickup truck. This is because every truck manufacturer uses different tire sizes, and the tire is the final gear in all pickup trucks.

When buying a truck, you will hear of tall and short gear. Trucks with tall gears move far on a single turn compared to those with short gears. 


When buying a pickup truck, it is essential to understand the gear ratios, as this will help you choose the right truck. The gear ratios are what bring the variation in the performance of every truck. Consider why you need the pickup truck, as this will help you choose the right gear ratio. 

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