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Old 03-18-2013, 08:34 PM   #1 (permalink)
5 Gears of Fury
 
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Worst factory gear ratios for highway F.E. you have ever driven?

I realize that some vehicles are produced with the intention of just being used around town, or geared for a purpose like trailer towing, but sometimes you come across a factory setup that just seems so unbalanced that it's hard to imagine that it went into production. My old standby for worst factory gearing for highway travel ever was my friend's 1987 Toyota Tercel 4wd wagon with an automatic. These cars didn't have overdrive, had a 4:10 final drive gearset, and rolled on stubby little 155/80/13s. That car didn't have a tach, so I can't say for sure what RPM it was running at on the highway, but at 100 KM/H it was buzzing so high that you felt sorry for it and would slow down lol. But I think I found a new contender:

1998 Chevrolet Tracker, 16v 1.6L, 5 speed, 4x4. It runs 215/75/15 tires. At 2000 RPM in 5th gear, it turns a whopping 58 KM/H (36 MPH)! The Toyota at least had the excuse of being 10 years older, having no overdrive, and 22.8 inch tall tires, but the Tracker has an overdrive and 27.7 inch tall tires, and it is still this sickly for highway driving! My mom wanted to see it the last time I drove up through the mountains to visit them, but man I couldn't get more than an hour away from my place before I turned around and took something else up there! And this truck is stock, so those are the gears it came from the dealer with.

So what's the worst stock car you have found gearing wise when it comes to highway F.E.?

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Old 03-18-2013, 10:24 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Cut the tracker a break... They need the high gearing because they are shaped like a wet shoebox turned sideways.

I have a 4WD 16 valve 1995 tracker. Coming off the freeway letting off the throttle in 5th I can out engine brake the best of em. With an ancient drive train and a body like a melting ice cube gearing lower will just make you spend more time in 4th. The 16 valve Suzuki engine loves to hum along at 3k RPM and will do it all day long. On a flat the MPGuino still reads between 35 and 40MPG.

My commute is notorious for getting the low end of the fuel economy scale. I have to travel steep hills with the other side having poorly timed red lights and or stop signs. The freeway section is a very long up hill followed by a very long slight downhill. I travel up hill in the morning when it is cold... I could make up for it going back down but the hills are much too steep to coast so the extra fuel turns to brake dust and brake rotor wear.

If I can get 30MPG from a tracker... anyone can.
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Old 03-18-2013, 10:48 PM   #3 (permalink)
5 Gears of Fury
 
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I like my Tracker, they are great for what they are, a small, capable 4x4. I guess it just amazed me that they would have 5:12 axle ratios without having some sort of 5th gear that would tame them down more on the highway. It's not like you use 5th when you are off road, so you'd think they would have made it a lot taller to make up for the 5:12s. On the plus side, they are great vehicles to teach someone how to drive standard on, if you stall one from a stop light you had to have been trying pretty hard to do it!
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Old 03-19-2013, 12:55 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Tetanus - '95 Geo Tracker 4WD Base
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5th gear is already 0.8:1 IIRC...
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Old 03-19-2013, 01:07 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I was always surprised at the crazy low gearing the trackers had. Granted, I think gearing them a bit higher wouldn't help much as the engine would be straining too hard and you'd be in 3rd or 4th all the time instead of overdrive.
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Old 03-19-2013, 03:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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If you open it up to gearing combined with shift points and engine tune... At work I drove a 2002 V6 Dakota 4x4.

The engine didn't make power until about 2200-2500rpm, unless you had your foot in it it would shift at 1800rpm. Try hauling equipment up and down steep hills, and manualy selecting the gears would take 1-2 seconds for it to think about it then it would slam into gear, and those that did often wound up blowing up the transmission after a while.

They performed good at only light throttle if you could get them to not shift so soon, but you usually wound up with your foot nearly on the floor, or your foot on the floor.
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Old 03-19-2013, 03:26 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Try a 39 Ford farm truck with a 4 speed (flathead V8) without synchros and straight cut gears. Of course the speed limit in VA was 35 MPH when it was built.

regards
mech

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