In the world of high-performance driving and motorsports, every component of a vehicle plays a crucial role in achieving success on the track and the open road. One often-overlooked but vital component is the steering gearbox. The steering gearbox ratio can significantly impact a vehicle’s handling characteristics and overall performance. We recently spoke with Mark Kawiecki at Turn One High Performance Steering to get his expert input on the differences between three options for quicker steering gearbox ratios: 8:1, 10:1, and 12:1.
Turn One Performance Steering has a proven track record of success in various motorsports disciplines, including NASCAR, road racing, drifting, and autocross. Their gearboxes have earned the trust of professional drivers and teams, solidifying their reputation as a top-tier manufacturer in the industry. Turn One’s gearboxes have also become commonplace on hotrods, classics, and high-performance street cars.
Understanding Steering Gearbox Ratios
As Mark explained it, steering gearbox ratios, often referred to as the “quickness” of a steering system, represent the relationship between the number of turns of the steering wheel and the amount the wheels turn in response. A lower number ratio (e.g. 8:1) means that the steering wheel requires fewer turns to rotate the wheels fully, resulting in a quicker and more responsive steering system. Conversely, a higher number ratio (e.g. 16:1) will require more turns of the steering wheel to achieve the same wheel movement, resulting in a slower steering response. Let’s dive into the details of the three common modern steering gearbox ratios.
8:1 Steering Gearbox
The 8:1 steering gearbox is the quickest of the three ratios. It provides a rapid response to steering inputs, making it well-suited for tight and twisty tracks with many sharp turns. This gearbox ratio allows for precise control and fast maneuverability, which can be especially advantageous in autocross or short-track racing. Steering inputs and corrections are small but have a greater effect on the angle of the wheels. “The 8:1 gearbox has the least amount of hand-over-hand steering of the three ratios,” Mark said. To demonstrate how quickly an 8:1 steering ratio is, the video below takes us in-car with Roger Irvine, UMI Suspension Car Chief, as he makes a fast lap around Pittsburgh International Race Complex using a Turn One steering gearbox in the UMI ’71 Camaro.
10:1 Steering Gearbox
The 10:1 steering gearbox strikes a balance between responsiveness and stability. It offers a moderately quick steering response, making it versatile for various track types and spirited street use. This ratio is commonly used in road racing, where a mix of tight and sweeping corners demands adaptability, as well as high-performance street cars. Although there is a bit more hand-over-hand steering input with this gearbox compared to the 8:1, according to Mark the off-center feel is still very much suited for precision driving.
The overwhelming response from customers is that the steering feels tight and precise. – Mark Kawiecki, Turn One
12:1 Steering Gearbox
While technically the 12:1 steering gearbox is the slowest of Turn One’s offerings, it still offers a fantastic ratio upgrade over most factory steering boxes. This ratio is probably best suited for the widest range of applications, from a street cruiser that wants a modern steering feel, to the occasional weekend autocrosser. “This ratio has become the new standard among restomod and custom car builds,” said Mark, “Since a lot of classic cars originally come from the factory with a 16:1 steering gearbox, upgrading to the 12:1 ratio greatly increases their steering performance and gives a better road feel and off-center feel. Upgrading your steering box will ensure you’re feeling the full benefits from an aftermarket suspension or full front-end kit on that restomod. Running a modern suspension but keeping an old, lashy steering box doesn’t make sense.”
Turn One: A Cut Above the Rest
While understanding the differences between these steering gearbox ratios is crucial, choosing the right manufacturer and product is equally important. Turn One Performance Steering has established itself as a leader in the field, delivering steering gearboxes that offer a unique combination of performance and durability. Turn One gearboxes are meticulously engineered to deliver precise and consistent steering response. Every Turn One steering gearbox is assembled in the USA using new components. Their expertise in motorsports allows them to fine-tune their gearboxes to meet the demands of professional racers and enthusiasts alike.
One of the standout features of Turn One gearboxes is their commitment to customization. They offer a range of gearboxes for many applications and various steering ratios, including the aforementioned 8:1, 10:1, and 12:1, allowing customers to choose the gearbox and ratio that best suits their specific racing or enthusiast needs. This level of customization ensures the gearbox aligns perfectly with the vehicle and intended driving conditions. Additionally, if a customer already owns a Turn One steering gearbox and wishes to change steering ratios they can send it in for a rebuild and gear change for less than the cost of a completely new gearbox.
In motorsports, reliability is paramount. Every Turn One steering gearbox is built to withstand the rigors of racing, providing consistent performance even under extreme conditions. Their gearboxes use the newer Saginaw 600 gears in a smaller housing with modern rack and pinion valve technology to provide vast improvements in reliability, on-center feel, and road feedback over older Saginaw/Delphi 700 gearboxes. According to Mark, steering tightness is the result of a combination of the gears used in the gearbox and the valving. “The baseline of our steering boxes is designed to mimic the rack and pinion feel of a late model Corvette, or roughly 20 to 30 percent tighter than the old pinky steering feel found in classic cars,” Mark said. Their commitment to quality, reliability, and performance ensures that your steering system remains dependable for many miles on the track or street.
In conclusion, the choice between 8:1, 10:1, and 12:1 steering gearboxes ultimately depends on the specific requirements of your driving endeavors. Each ratio has its strengths and benefits, and the right choice can significantly impact your driving experience and performance. When it comes to selecting a steering gearbox, Turn One Performance Steering stands out as a manufacturer that combines precision engineering, customization options, durability, and a proven track record to deliver the ultimate steering solution for motorsports enthusiasts and professionals alike. If you are unsure as to which ratio would best suit you, contact the experts at Turn One.