3.42 vs 3.73 Silverado- Which Gear Ratio Works Best And Why?

I’m a massive fan of the Silverado. It is one of the most reliable pickup trucks. It is essentially my daily driver. Naturally, I wanted to find ways to maximize the efficiency of this car. That’s when I was interested to know, between the 3.42 vs 3.73 Silverado, which gear ratio worked best?

Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer to this question. Each gear ratio works best for different uses. It also heavily depends on the engine itself. When I used the same engine for both gear sets, I could draw two conclusions. For long drives that needed a lot of fuel, the 3.42 saved me a lot of money. But if I needed to get somewhere fast, 3.73 was a savior.

Before I compare both the gear ratios thoroughly, I wanted to discuss a couple of topics to refresh the minds of the readers a bit:

  • What is a gear ratio?
  • Does It make a difference?

Introduction To Gear Ratios

I’m not a fan of over-complication. People tend to make this simple concept a long and complicated one by bringing up the pinion, axle, gear ring, and other jargon. I won’t do that.

So, what is the gear ratio?

Here’s a short and simple explanation- gear ratio is the number of times the driveshaft has to rotate to move the entire wheel. The driveshaft is the portion of the wheel that rotates first.

Concerning Reality made a great informative video regarding the topic.

Why Choosing The Right Gear Ratio Is Important?

Now that I’ve covered what a gear ratio is, it is only fair to discuss why this number is important. Here’s a quick rundown of the three things it determines:

1. Speed

This one is pretty obvious. If a wheel can turn more times with lesser rotations, the acceleration will be greater. This acceleration allows the cars to hit top speed fairly quickly and keep that speed too. To put it simply, both cruising speed and acceleration are better on a higher gear ratio.

2. Towing Capacity

I tried not to use complicated terms, but torque and towing capacity are terms I just couldn’t avoid. Torque is the force that the engine applies to the wheel. The higher the gear ratio, the more torque generated. With more torque, the wheels will be able to pull a lot more weight.

Towing capacity refers to the amount of weight a car can pull without doing any damage or breaking the law. Higher torque generally increases this number.

3. Fuel Economy

There is a downside to the fact that lesser rotations are needed to turn the wheel. This consumes a lot more fuel in a shorter period. If saving money on gas is a priority, lower gear ratios are the way to go.

3.42 Vs 3.73- Which Is The Best Option For A Silverado?

From the analysis I did on the importance of gear ratio, it is clear to see which ratio fits which needs best. However, I made this table to help decide between the 3.42 and 3.73 easily-

Gear Ratio3.423.73
Cruising SpeedLowerHigher
Towing CapacityLowerHigher
Fuel EconomyBetterWorse

This comparison chart may be deceptive. It may seem like 3.73 is wiping the floor with 3.42. However, fuel economy is a very important matter. Since I drive very frequently, I found that 3.42 was saving me a lot of cash as it provides better fuel economy. This makes up for the higher speed and more towing capacity provided by 3.73.

How Is The 3.55 For A Silverado?

I found that the 3.55 hit the sweet spot when it came to fuel economy and speed. Honestly speaking, both options lacked in either one department. Because I preferred both- mileage and speed, this was a bummer.

Fortunately, the 3.55 allows me to do both of those things. The towing capacity was also satisfactory.

Is It Possible To Change The Gear Ratio On A Truck?

Yes. I would highly recommend not making it a DIY project though. A lot could go wrong without proper expertise. So, an auto-repair shop is the best option to get this done. It isn’t an expensive process either. I got it done within $1500.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is The Silverado Good For Towing?

A Silverado can be an effective vehicle for towing. But for that, it is important to get a model with a strong engine. Weaker engines cannot create the force needed to pull heavy cargo. The difference in engine power cannot be compensated for, even with a 3.73.

2. How To Measure Gear Ratio?

To do this, all I needed was some tape and a camera. I marked an area of the wheel with tape to see when it makes a full rotation. I wrapped tape around the driveshaft and create a flag in order to track the number of rotations. I also placed a camera under your car to inspect the driveshaft. Next, I spun the wheel 10 times tracking each spin with the marker. After that, I used the camera footage to see the number of times the driveshaft spun. Lastly, I just divided that number by 10 and I had my gear ratio.

3. Can I Purchase Gear Sets Online?

Yes. There are a lot of sites from which it is possible to buy gear sets. However, buying online has its risks. I would suggest thoroughly researching gear ratios before making the purchase. Well, You may purchase from here without worrying about anything.

4. Is The Concept Of Gear Ratios The Same For Bicycles?

More or less. Gear ratio, as I mentioned, is the number of times the driveshaft needs to rotate to move the entire wheel. The concept is similar in the case of bikes but a lot simpler. This video explains everything there is to know about bike gear ratios.

Final Words

I hope I was able to properly emphasize the importance of picking the right axle ratio for a vehicle as it impacts a lot of factors when driving. The right axle ratio can make or break the driving experience. That is why 3.42 vs 3.73 Silverado is a battle every Silverado buyer must keep in mind.

Hi, this is Johnny Norris grew up in a car-oriented family. I love helping people by solving different problems they face in their Chevy car. Following my suggestions, how-to guides, you can save up on a lot of money that would have been spent on paying a professional.