Axle Ratio - What is It and Why Does it Matter?
Each number and letter contained within a VIN reveals information about the vehicle, such as the make, model, production year and engine size. While it may be possible to derive information about an auto's gearbox ratio from its VIN, that depends largely on the information the manufacturer includes in the vehicle descriptor section VDS of the VIN. Find the VIN of your vehicle. It can be found on the sticker on the inside of the driver's side door or on a stamped metal plate embedded in the dashboard above the steering wheel.
It also is on your vehicle's title.
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This section typically includes information such as the vehicle model, engine size and body type. While not every vehicle manufacturer includes gearbox ratio information in the VDS, this will be where the information is found if it was included. Find a guide online, such as Edmunds.
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If you plan to do a lot of highway driving in your pickup, the standard axle ratio will give you the best fuel economy. Automakers build trucks with a range of optional axle ratios.
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The term refers to the gears in the truck's differential, which is a mechanical device that links the rear axle to the driveshaft and then the engine. Technically, the number should be expressed as a ratio, such as 3. But that gear ratio would most commonly be referred to as "3. The key to understanding gear ratios is to remember that, as the numerical ratio goes up, towing capacity increases but fuel economy goes down.
A numerically higher axle ratio provides a mechanical advantage to send more of the engine's available torque to the rear tires and front tires, in a four-wheel drive vehicle , but you pay the price at the fuel pump. So, a truck with optional 3. But it will also use more fuel in all situations because the engine's rpm will be higher.
For example, Ford says the F Super Duty 4x2 regular cab pickup equipped with the 6.
Four-wheel-drive trucks will have a ratio in the front axle's differential that closely matches that of the rear axle. Unless the truck's window sticker lists an optional axle ratio, it will come with a standard ratio that's selected by the manufacturer. The standard axle ratio for Chevrolet pickup trucks is chosen to balance performance, capability and fuel economy, according to the company. The standard ratio also is biased more toward fuel economy.
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By selecting a final drive ratio that lowers engine rpm under most conditions, manufacturers can more easily meet government mileage standards. In contrast, optional axle ratios tend to provide more towing capability by increasing the amount of available torque delivered to the axles. If you are constantly towing, the highest axle gear ratio possible is what you're after.
The choice of a numerically higher axle ratio will only knock off about 1 mile per gallon from the truck's fuel economy. But since pickup truck fuel efficiency is low to begin with, even a 1 mpg reduction is significant.
How to Find Out the Axle Ratio on a Ford Pickup | It Still Runs
The "drive cycle," which is how fast and where you drive, is also an important consideration when selecting the right axle ratio, according to truckmaker Ram. For lower speeds and rural driving, a higher gear set will add capability and a more spirited driving experience without too much damage to the final mpg number, according to Ram.
But if you do a lot of high-speed driving, you might want to consider a vehicle with a numerically lower gear set to decrease engine rpm and improve fuel economy. One tricky thing about choosing an axle ratio is that the EPA fuel economy information on the window sticker primarily applies to the "base" or standard axle ratio, even though that particular truck might come with an optional axle ratio, says Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing for Edmunds.
Therefore, any axle ratio you see listed on the options side of the window sticker will lower the fuel economy figures printed on the very same sticker. Another difficulty is that optional axle ratios, and their effects on towing, cannot be compared across truck manufacturers, Dan Edmunds says. That's because each truckmaker may use a different tire size, and the tire itself acts as the final "gear" in the system. It's best to compare the axle options within a single brand to see how each one affects the tow ratings listed in that brand's towing guide, he says.