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Selecting a Rear Gear Ratio For 2005-2014 Mustangs

Written By: Glenn Cope II

Shop Mustang Rear Gears

Faster acceleration and a quicker ride is what replacing your gears is all about. See what everyone is talking about and replace your rear gears with a more aggressive set and reap the performance benefits that come with it.

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After buying their Mustangs, many people go looking for ways to speed things up. One of the best ways of doing this, and for a minimal amount of money, is to change out the rear gears.

American Muscle

Calculating Mustang Gear Ratios

You will hear the number 8.8 a lot when talking about the size of the rear gear. This is because the size of a stock S197 rear ring gear is 8.8 inches in diameter. To understand the gear ratio you divide the teeth of the ring gear by the pinion gear to get your gear ratio. For example, a ring gear with 41 teeth and a pinion gear with 11 teeth 41/11 is 3.73. A basic rule is the higher your gear ratio, the faster the car will accelerate. The more common method to calculate gear ratios is to count the number of times the rear wheel turns for every revolution of the driveshaft.

This handy gear ratio to RPM chart will show you what your Mustang's estimated RPMs will be when cruising on the highway.

Most rear gears are made of 8620 steel. This steel is ideal for hardening and thus good for gears, axles, and crankshafts. It has good wear resistance and can deal with the abuse Mustang gears tend to endure, especially those used for racing.

Gear Ratio Calculation Chart

When selecting a gear ratio for a Mustang - consider the following:

  1. Tire Size
  2. Transmission Ratio
  3. Final Gear Ratio
  4. Engine RPM (aka fuel economy)

Most guys tend to choose a 3.55, 3.73, or 3.90 for a Mustang that is daily driven. If you are serious about speed, then you might consider the 4.10 or a 4.30. However, the higher the ratio the faster you will accelerate, but it will also result in much higher engine RPMs when cruising on the highway. You'll also be sacrificing your top end speed and some fuel economy. If highway gas mileage is a major concern, a good compromise is a lower ratio such as 3.55 or 3.73. Also note changing your rear gear will affect your speedometer readings, and to correct them you will need a handheld tuner.

Mustang Ring and Pinion Gears Labeled

Other Gear Related Options For Your Mustang 

Some additional options to squeeze every little advantage out of a new gear install are to have the outer ring lightened. This process removes about 1 lb to 2 lbs of rotating weight. Other options include cryogenic treatment for some additional strength, and/or micro blue coatings that help in lubrication. You can also get an all-in-one package that includes everything you’ll need for installation and speedometer recalibration. Expect a major increase in power and acceleration with one of these tuner/gear combos!

Open 8.8 Mustang Rear Differential

Mustang Gear Installation 

It's usually a good idea to have your new rear gears installed professionally. Setting up the backlash on the pinion gear can be tedious, and if you mess it up then your gear is going to making a howl or whining noise that gets louder with speed and lasts throughout the life of your gears.

The Mustang rear gear overview article provides additional information about rear gears and ratios.

Open Differential Showing the Top of the Pinion Gear