5 Guides to Help You Set Up Your Ring and Pinion Gears

Setting up gears can be a pretty daunting task even for those of us that are are very mechanically inclined. It does require some special tools, takes a few hours, and requires you to measure precisely and use good judgment. BUT IT CAN BE DONE!
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Below we've compiled a few links to guides for setting up your own gears.  If you're installing gears, we recommend reading through all of the below links (okay, maybe not #4).  You'll get some different points of view on the same procedure, which will help you do a better job.  It's likely that you can install both front and rear ring and pinions in a weekend if you have the tools and are properly prepped for the job.  There's no shame in having a pro set up your gears, but YOU CAN do it yourself.  Read on.

1. Ring and Pinion Installation Instructions at Drivetrain.com

Read here at Drivetrain.com

Estimated time to read: 8 minutes

Compared to the other links here, this one is abysmally sparse on information.  But that's why we're including it!  The other links here have long, intimidating articles.  Don't use this article to set up your gears - use it to decide if you want to tackle a gear job. 

2. Differential Installation Instructions at Differentials.com

Read here at Differentials.com

Estimated time to read: 12 minutes

This is another relatively short read.  It has a very nice section at the beginning listing the general tools that you need to install a ring and pinion.  The list is pretty complete, but you might need other tools (like a bearing splitter).  If you don't have the tools, try:

  • Places like Harbor Freight - You can get acceptable-quality stuff for infrequent use.
  • Flea markets, yard sales, and retired machinists on craigslist. 
  • Most auto parts stores do free tool rental with a deposit. 

If you have the coin, don't be afraid to invest in your tools.  All of the tools required to do gears can be used for other jobs on your truck.

All that said, you still need the CORRECT tools for your axle.  For instance, you need your bearing puller to be not-too-big and not-to-small, and you might need a thin-bodied high quality bearing splitter ($$$) instead of a lower-quality Harbor Freight splitter ($).

3. Toyota Gear Installs Arizona by Zuk

Read here at gearinstalls.com

Estimated time to read: infinity minutes

Like pictures?  I hope you have a great data plan for your Internet!  This has probably some of the best general information for Toyota gear installations.  There are no comprehensive directions, but there is a long, long list of specific installation combos (such as "Nitro 529 gear install for the front 8" of Jose's 1996 FZJ80") accompanied by install photos and notes.  This is a great place to possibly find your gear and locker combo being installed into a Toyota like yours.

4. Yukon Installation Kit Instructions PDF by Yukon Gear

Download here at ringpinion.com

Estimated time to read: 22 minutes

This downloadable PDF has some excellent, clear images of gear tooth patterns near the end.  Once you've read through our first link and decided to install your gears yourself, read this next - it's much more in depth and informative.  This is a great balance between the sparse info of link #1 and our encyclopedic link #5.

5. Gettin' the Gears Done by Bill “BillaVista” Ansell on Pirate4x4.com

Read here on Pirate4x4.com

Estimated time to read: 55 minutes

BillaVista is known on Pirate4x4 for his excellent tech articles and this one is no exception.  This is a very comprehensive guide to installing a ring and pinion.  However, make sure you break out your pipe and whiskey before settling in to your study to digest this tome - it is LONG.  Beside the usual comprehensive tech and excellent pictures, there is a great section near the end on how to check and read the tooth contact pattern properly by applying load.  We suspect that NOT doing this is why you see so many for sale ads that say "Axle has new gears, but teeth are chipped." 

Last updated: June 3, 2019