I would like to thank every one that has posted ring & pinion gearing options on this site. It has been a tremendous help in selecting the perfect gear set-up for my needs. I will however say this, more information needs to be addressed when suggesting gear options for the JK automatic.
Back info.... I have an Unlimited with Auto and came stock with 3.73's and 255/75r17 32" tires. I upgrated to 33's, well 32.8's with BFG KM2's 285/70r17's. Since buy the unlimited auto site unseen without driving the auto, I have been very disappointed with the power to weight ratio and drivability of the auto and 3.8l motor combo. Issues like, will not hold speed on e-way, will not climb slopes or hills without down shifting and would not pull a small 800lbs trailer through the mountains on factory tires and gearing, eventhough it had the "trailer" package
Additional research and info before I offer a tremendous suggestion for gearing options... I owned a 2002 Jeep liberty, had the 3.7L and 45RFE Automatic Transmission - it was the first and last year the Liberty had this transmission, it soon went to our JK beloved 42RLE. I loved this jeep, it ran hard and cruised the highway well adn had pretty goo pep for a V6. Pulled a u-haul trailer with no issues at all. Keep this in mind as you read later....
Here is the connection to the JK issues mentioned above.... lets let logic preveil here as well as seat of the pants feel....
1. The 02 Liberty and 45RFE Automatic Transmission has a .75 OD and 3.0 first gear with 27" tires and 3.73 gear ratio.
2. The JK auto 42RLE has a .64 OD and 2.84 1st gear with 32"tires and 3.73 gears
OK, it does not take a Jeep engineer to see that we are going to have issues here with these comparable set-ups.... think about this.... the transmisison in the JK will have to work a lot harder to get down the road... oh and by the way (the dodge 42 auto was used with the 4cyl Jeep Liberty's - is it weeker than the 45 autos?) I cna see why Chrysler decided to go with a transmision with a .64 OD... fuel milleage. But it has hurt the Jeep Auto line with this transmissions... look at other boards and you will see the same issues with current Liberty's adn others.
Ok, here is the math... I wanted 02 Liberty performance out of my JK... why, well they have very similar motors, the vehicle wgt is about the same and yes the shape is different, but I'm not drag racing so this is a non-issue... lets look at the transmission OD, axel gear ratio and tire matching (final drive ratio) to find the correct gear ratio for my JK auto.
Premis 1. The final drive ratio of the Liberty with 27" tires is: .75 x 3.73 = 2.7975
Premis 2. The Final drive ratio of the JK with stock 32" tires is .64 x 3.73 = 2.3872
Premise 3. The 32" tire is 1.1852 larger than the 27" tire.
Conclusion 1 - if I want Liberty performance on y JK with stock tires I would of needed a final drive ratio of 2.7975 with 27" tires, but I have 32" tires so I need to factor the larger tires into consideration.... 2.7975/.64 = 4.37 (4.10 - options on 07's only with tow package - non rubicons)
Conclusion 2 - Now, Considering the larger tires multiply 1.1852 x 4.37 = 5.18 to adjust for larger tires, so my conclusion is that to have 02 Jeep Liberty performace on my "Stock" Jeep JK with automatic, I needed 5.13's from the factory to make the performace the same as my beloved 2002 Jeep liberty with same motor and better transmission
Now, lets consider a tire change to 33's, how will that effect the performace... well as we all know... to get the performace back to stock with a tire size increase, we will need to re-gear.....
Premise 1. Consider the "should of" gearing of 5.13's for stock tires as proved above.
Premise 2. Change of tire size from 32's to 33's... 33's are 1.03125 larger.
Conclusion: Multiply 1.03125 x 5.18's = 5.3425 (5.38's). 5.38's is what i should use with 33 inch tire.
Well, I know many of you will chime in and say your gas milleage will decrese alot and the engine will over rev.... well these 3.8L need higher rpms to pull hills and I bet any of you that know transmisisons will agree, that these ideas will reduce the drag on the tranny and its willingness to shift too often and over heat.... i.e. potential of fires.
I first went with 4.88's auto and 33's, tried to pull my trailer through the mountains in Glacier Park.... it was bad, 35mph in 2nd gear with the newly installed trans warning going off.... I wanted a diesel then and know.... if I could of bought a JK diesel then, I woudl of gladly parked my gas JK with a free sign on it
So, I regeared 5.38's with 33's auto trans and pulling an 800lbs trailer.... WOW!!! I like my JK again, it pulled hard on small mid-western hills with very little upshift out of OD.... from Minneapolis to Marquette, it upshifted 3-times pulling at 65mph and 2,400 rpms. I had 16 miles to the gallon on the round trip, verified by actual miles and gallons. The JK is fun to drive again. Without pulling the trailer, the JK is a true 4-speed transmission with 18-19 miles per gallon. Wind greatly affects my mileage... 3' lift.
There was a post on here before that said a more efficient motor will use less gas... well, I believe that tremendously.... when re-gearing.... go over the top, you just may like it!
***** Correction's made from original post.... math was incorrect, JK's are .64 OD's not .69..... sorry for the confusion**** the 5.38's are still WOW-ers.... with 33's and auto...
THANKS for Reading.... please offer your thoughts and experiences.... cheers