Q: I know I need to regear and add lockers to my Jeep. What else do I need to know?
A: It is important to know and understand the options available to fit your needs. Regearing is highly technical and requires precision to find the right balance for your rig. Since you or your mechanic will already be working on the axles, you may want to consider your options for lockers as well. Let’s start with regearing.
1. Engine Stress
Is your Jeep a daily driver that you want to put bigger tires on, or are you looking for it to be a dedicated crawler? You can adjust your gear ratio by playing with the number of teeth on the gear and pinion to achieve more torque or better fuel economy with larger tires. You have to find the right balance between torque and top speed. The specs of the tires you choose will affect the versatility of your vehicle after regearing.
2. Fuel Economy
Taller gear ratios will increase your top speed and fuel economy. Shorter gear ratios give you more acceleration and slower crawl speed. With a manual transmission, you have the control to shift into your highest gear. An automatic won’t shift unless the ratio is correct.
A manual also has a minimum idle, which makes slow speeds difficult, especially with taller gears. An automatic’s computer corrects to prevent stalling at lower speeds. This is important when maneuvering through difficult features. The key is to put time into understanding your personal type of use and needs for highway RPMs, acceleration and crawl speed.
3. Common Mistakes
There’s a break-in period for differentials. Change the fluid after 500 miles to get the metal shards and excess bearing material out. If you are doing the regearing yourself, make sure your measuring tools were calibrated recently.
Consider the age of your vehicle. You may be replacing more that you thought once you open it up — and spending more money than initially intended. I like using G2 gears. It’s a matter of personal preference, but they have worked well for me. You can find them at g2axle.com.
4. Equal Power
Without a locker, you will have limited slip. This means that, when you are freespinning, you are only working with two wheels: a front and a back. A locker gives all four wheels equal power all the time. The goal is to not overexert your engine by accelerating harder and faster because you only have two wheels doing the work.
Nuts and Bolts
Danny Tew is the owner of Trinity Auto Repair in Odessa, Fla. He believes regearing and adding lockers are essential elements of making a Jeep off-road-worthy, and he recommends consulting a professional mechanic and carefully selecting the parts for both jobs.
5. Different Hopes for Different Folks
Thoroughly research different kinds of lockers. Your choice will drastically affect your versatility and ease of demand. There are electronic lockers with a switch, manual lockers with a pull, and lunchbox lockers. I have seen spider gears welded together to get them to lock solid. This is an inexpensive route, but it’s irreversible, so I don’t recommend it. I mostly use Lock-Right lunchbox lockers. They are affordable and dependable. You can find them at powertrax.com.
6. A-Tech Job
It is important to have someone highly skilled to do both these jobs. There’s a lot to it. Regearing can cause rear-end whine if the gears aren’t meshing correctly because of too much backlash. The gears will eventually wear down and you’ll be replacing them again soon. When installing lockers, you need to know your process and the correct specs and have the right tools and lubricants on hand.