How to Set Pinion Angle on Lowered Truck

Understanding how to set pinion angle on lowered truck is an essential skill that is pretty rare in the DIY space.

This operation is essential for lowered trucks because driving with the wrong pinion angle can trigger a horrible vibration and damage your universal joints, pinion bearings, transfer case bearings, and driveshafts.

It is vital to avoid battling to fix these numerous issues that a wrong pinion angle is responsible for. Therefore, carefully study this post if you’re wondering – How do you adjust pinion angle?

how to correct pinion angle

How to Set Pinion Angle on Lowered Truck

Many components in a truck are at the mercy of a correct operating pinion angle, especially the driveshafts, universal joints, etc.

Also, the consistent unpleasant vibration in a truck due to the wrong pinion angle is a sign of unequal velocities at both ends of the truck’s driveshafts. So, kindly follow this recommendation to set the operating angle correctly if you drive a truck equipped with leaf springs.

Firstly, setting pinion angle with leaf springs requires getting wedge-shaped pinion angle shims and adding the shims between the vehicle’s rear axle housing and the springs. This will help in rotating the housing downward or upward.

Meanwhile, to lower the pinion, simply put the wedge’s thick end onto the rear of the vehicle. Conversely, to raise the pinion put the wedge’s thick end onto the front.

Alternatively, welding the spring perches on permanently to the correct angle will serve as a more permanent fix for the vehicle’s pinion angle. So, identify the correct angle and weld the spring perches on.

However, these operations can be pretty tricky; hence, you may have to contact an expert auto mechanic that understands how to adjust pinion angle properly. This will only cost a few bucks.


Q: Should the rear end pinion angle be up or down?

The rear end pinion angle is best at a position where it is pointing upward. This elevation is set towards the front while the car sits on a level plain surface at ride height. Therefore, the pinion angle is best recommended to sit upward at a minimum of 1 degree and a maximum of 3 degrees, respectively.

Having a wrong rear-end pinion angle can impact a vehicle negatively. Some of the frustrations that excess angle may cause include unpleasant driveline vibrations, slight loss of rear wheel power, U-joints, driveshafts failure (especially if the angle is overly excessive), etc.

Therefore, it is crucial to stick to the recommended 3 degrees pinion angle or less if you want to avoid any form of malfunction. Hence, the need to ensure that a professional handle the job.

Q: How do you set pinion depth?

An appropriate pinion depth is very important because it ensures that the vehicle’s pinion teeth mesh properly with the ring gear’s teeth in the middle. The pinion and ring sets do not fall in place by a direct installation; they must be accurately set using adjusters or shims.

Therefore, to set pinion depth, strategically make large changes to the point where you are able to reach the ideal pattern. For instance, 0.002 inches – 0.004 inches could be considered a small change, while 0.005 inches – 0.015 inches is a huge change.

Therefore, deliberately adjust the pinion to the point that moves it really far. Then, if it goes too far from the ideal pattern, just know that the correct pattern is somewhere between the extremes. So, ensure to perform smaller readjustments until you get the ideal pattern that centers between the ring gear teeth’s face and flank.

Q: How do you set a pinion angle on a 4×4?

Undoubtedly, the perfect way of setting a pinion angle varies from one vehicle to another; hence, you may need to use a pinion angle calculator app. However, if you drive a 4×4 vehicle with leaf springs, this recommendation can help you set the pinion angle correctly.

Setting pinion angle in a 4×4 involves adding wedged shims (adjusters) between the springs and rear axle housing to help rotate the housing downward or upward. In order to raise the pinion, simply put the wedge’s thick end onto the front. Also, putting the wedge’s thick end onto the rear will help to lower the pinion.

Q: What is the proper driveline angle?

3 degrees or less is the proper driveline angle that many driveline companies suggest for an extended u-joint lifespan. This is because the more the driveline angle, the higher the tendency to experience a vibration, especially at an increased driveshaft speed.

Meanwhile, it is vital for a vehicle’s transmission output shaft to be parallel to the pinion input shaft, thereby leaving the operating angles at both ends at 3 degrees each. Once again, kindly note that any operating angle beyond 3 degrees will shorten the U-joint’s lifespan. So, ensure to stay within the prescribed boundaries.

Q: Can the wrong pinion angle cause vibration?

Of course, a wrong pinion angle can result in terrible driveline vibrations while a vehicle is on the road. The wrong angle setting can also lead to early failure of the universal joints, pinion bearings, transfer case output bearings, and driveshafts. So, you may need to figure out how to check the pinion angle to avoid these problems in the long run.

Meanwhile, a perfect pinion angle of around 3 degrees is all you need to keep the components outlined above in perfect working condition. So, contacting a professional auto technician who understands how to correct pinion angle is advisable.

Q: What would happen if the pinion depth is not measured properly?

An improperly measured pinion depth will eventually affect the backlash by moving the drive pattern onto the heel while the coast pattern is moved onto the toe, especially when the pinion depth is decreased.

Conversely, when the pinion depth is measured in increasing order, it will trigger the coast pattern to move onto the heel while the drive pattern moves onto the toe.

Also, the pinion depth measurement has an impact on pinion bearing preload, as an increase in the former will increase the latter. This can only be adjusted properly with the pinion shims.

Q: How do you set pinion depth and backlash?

Setting pinion depth and backlash requires using the designated starting shim stack. Once you have this, ensure to make a huge adjustment at first. After that, gradually use the shim (adjuster) to readjust the setting little by little until you attain the perfect position.

Meanwhile, a simple adjustment with the shim makes a lot of difference; in that, an increase in the pinion depth will automatically result in a decrease in the backlash and vice versa. At the same time, a proper pinion depth will establish a perfect engagement between the pinion teeth and the ring gear teeth in the middle.

Q: Does backlash affect pinion depth?

Of course, the backlash has a direct impact on pinion depth. Therefore, increasing a vehicle’s pinion depth will automatically decrease its backlash and vice versa. In other words, an increased backlash equals a decreased pinion depth.

Meanwhile, increasing the pinion depth will eventually decrease the backlash and automatically move the drive pattern towards the toe a little bit. This operation moves the coast pattern onto the heel as well.

Conversely, a decrease in the pinion depth will increase the backlash and move the drive pattern towards the heel, whereas the same operation moves the coast pattern onto the toe.

Q: What happens if pinion preload was set incorrectly?

If a vehicle’s pinion preload is set incorrectly, it will become problematic for the pinion and ring gears. For example, an extremely tight pinion preload will cause the pinion bearings to lock up, wipe out and fail completely. This is a severe problem in the pinion and ring gears.

On the flip side, an extremely loose pinion preload will make the rear end whine. In addition, it will further lead to abnormal wear and tear in gear due to the pinion gear stressing out the ring gear.

Therefore, it is very crucial to consult an expert auto mechanic when working on any operation that concerns the pinion in your car and other components around it.

Final Words

Among several DIY operations, understanding how to set pinion angle on lowered truck can be tricky. Therefore, if you’re wondering, “How do you set pinion angle with leaf springs?” ensure to follow the recommendation above or consult an expert auto mechanic who can set the pinion angle perfectly.

Remember that prompt response to issues is one of the ways to curb severe damages in the long run. Therefore, kindly fix the pinion angle as soon as possible to avoid damaging your truck’s universal joints, pinion bearings, and driveshafts.

In any case, rectifying the pinion angle is less costly compared to repairing or replacing any of the damaged components a wrong pinion angle may affect.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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