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Dealing With Manual Locking Hub Problems

Manual Locking Hub Problems

The hubs that you have on your vehicle are going to be either automatic or manual in terms of the locking mechanism. And for driving with a four-wheel this is a pretty important part. Driving with a bad hub would affect the whole experience in a negative way.

So, finding what’s causing the issue is necessary. Basically, what we are aiming to do today. We’ll start with the manual locking hubs explained. It’s a part that allows the rotation of wheels without the driveline in front turning.

And so, basically, your vehicle gets saved from wear and tear along with great fuel economy benefits. If you are facing manual locking hub problems, and cannot decide what to do next, then you’ll love what we’ll be discussing today.

Sneak Peak of Manual Locking Hub Problems & Causes

You could be facing issues due to a worn-out manual lock hub that obviously needs replacement, constant clicking nose indicating a number of causes, the two common errors popping due to leaks or failure of 4-wheel driving.

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Worn Out Manual Locking Hub – Replace Them

The manual locking hubs basically prevent any type of wear and tear to happen on the front axle. And it’s made of cast aluminum, which causes it to break after being constantly in use. It basically stays connected when you drive with four-wheel driving. However, during the two-wheel driving, the thing disconnects.

Now as soon as there’s any wear and tear on this part, and it looks like there’s a need for replacement, you should not delay the replacement. Because then you’ll be compromising the performance of front axle shafts located on the front wheels.

To replace the parts, you’ll have to disassemble it of course. And then put a new one in its place.

In Case You Don’t Know the Removal Process, Here’s What To Do

  • Try bringing the vehicle a bit above the floor using the jack. And then you’ll have the wheels available at an easy to work with height.
  • Your truck might have a hub cap, start by removing it. A tool like a flat head screwdriver or tire iron will help here. You want to pry the cap off.
  • You should be able to find a silver color ring. It comes with two tabs that are on the sides sticking outwards. You can use a pair of liters for simply pinching onto the tabs and the ring should easily come off. Your finger should be enough, but using a tool gives you better access.
  • Hold the lockout portion that you can see of the hub with firm fingers. A little bit of wiggling is necessary for the lockout portion to move all way, up and down, back and forth.
  • And try pulling it out. This will eventually make the hub come out. If it still does not, use a rubber mallet. And very gently trying to knock on it until it starts loosening up to get removed easily.

Consistent Clocking Noise with Manual Hub Locking

You are trying to lock the manual hubs, but a constant noise is coming from a certain part. And it’s the left front hub. Also, the transfer case is engaged in 2WD, not 4WD. If that’s what you are facing, just for precaution, consider draining the transfer case fluid and check if it’s sorted or not.

Also, the locking hub may cause the steering to feel restricted. And there can be many reasons that are facing trouble for such issue.

A Bad Hub

Before you find out how to test manual locking hubs, make sure to jack the front end first. And try checking for any resistance while locking. The chances of the wheel lever moving without any problem is high. And that’s quite expected from a truck that you are running for a long time.

You may want to take care of a few things, such as belt tensioner pulley, window regular, and heater core, as those can be causing the problem too.

Using WD40 helps here temporarily by shutting the noise, but while driving the squeaky will most likely exist. It can also be shot or seized axle shaft universal joint that’s causing the sound.

Worn Out Brake Caliper Brakes

Another utility piece behind that clicking noise could be brake caliper brakes being worn out. Even a little bit of damage there often ends up in giving clicking noise from the front end. In fact, in some cases, you may discover the caliper to rattle a bit in the bracket.

Solution To This?

  • Try welding bead on the bracket.
  • And then grind it down.

Chances are there will be the noise when you are in 2wd with hubs locked. In that case, it’s going to be hard to fix.

Frozen Axle Joints

Now of the calipers and rotors are doing fine, you want to consider axle joints being frozen. Especially if it’s winter and there was snow melting. You want to take a good look at them. Usually, trucks won’t have the type that can work with some greasing, and so you cannot apply grease.

Getting Errors While Manually Locking

The two errors that you may see on the dash with manual locking are:

  • Check AdvanceTrac.
  • Check 4×4.

Now, this could actually be a ford auto locking hub that you are referring to. Even if the errors pop off with the manual locking. And it actually happens with the ESOF that are not working with auto hubs for some reason, so you end up going the manual route.

First of all, the vacuum-operated factor could be the cause. Is there a be vacuum leaks that are resulting in issues.

There’s no doubt that vacuum hubs or auto-locking hubs are not the best bet for such scenes especially. Because you may end up not being able to use the 4×4 in situations where you need it the most.

And that’s when ford’s manual override seems to get one out of the issue temporarily. What you want to do here is consider nice aftermarket hubs, factory pieces are poor to a lot of these actually in many ways.

Also Don’t Forget to Check for Problems In

  1. Vacuum switch.
  2. Vacuum huh solenoid.
  3. Switch to hubs going lines.
  4. The stick hub assembly internal seals.

Also, consider these two things that might be the case with you:

If you don’t have your vacuum pump mostly shut off then this could mean the auto hum system is actually having leaks.

If you cannot switch the dash to defrost from the floor, then it indicates that there’s a vacuum leak somewhere inside the system.

Here’s a solution, or call it a precaution

If you are somewhat sure that you’ll need the locking, then just use the manual locking in 2-wheel driving until there’s a warm cab for you to use the 4-wheel driving.

Also keep in mind during winters, manual locking 3–4-time is fine, but not more. That extra wear you cause to the truck should be avoided as much as possible.

4 Wheel Driving Not Working Because Of Manual Locking Hubs

Being sure that the culprit is one of your manual locking hubs, makes it quite likely to what has happened, or at least similar.

However, the first thing that seems to be the situation, is that trying to spin the driveshaft on the front in neutral while having both hubs locked, one axle ends up locking but the other just spins.

In such a case, if someone tries to take out the manual hub apart, and discovers all the parts working absolutely fine, then blaming it on the manual hub makes sense.

However, you also want to give a closer look at the axle shaft, and confirm it’s not sinking in the wheel hub, one a little more than the other. If that’s the case, you may end up getting the lock in place with a little trying here and there, but most probably as soon as you start driving it will disengage.

The first reason behind it seems to be the axle as if it’s facing some issue that is not allowing it to engage. It could also be the looseness of the axle. Or probably the locking hubs have defected and you now need to go for a replacement.

If You Have an Open Front Differential

Keep in mind, then one axle spinning is actually fine. Make sure there’s even a problem in the first place by ensuring a few things.

You won’t be able to normally run the front driveshaft in case of:

  • Having both hubs in the lock position.
  • Neural transfer case.
  • 2HI or 2LO with front tires being on the ground.  

Keep in mind that with 4×4 and parking, the front shaft won’t turn while the driveline is basically held. With hubs being unlocked, you should be able to have a freewheel with 2Hi.

You can also test it with the 2HI. Try these:

  • Lock the hubs.
  • Check the shaft if is not turning.
  • You also want to check for any resistance.
  • See if there’s any rocking action of the truck.

If the answer to all of these were yes, then your hubs are absolutely fine. If not, then the hubs are not locking all the way for some reason.

Another Method Would be Following these Steps

  • Jack the front wheels up and get the hubs unlocked.
  • You want to keep your eyes on the knuckle aside u-joints.
  • Try spinning each wheel.
  • The u-joint should not move, and the wheel should easily spin. If not, then your hubs have a problem.
  • If yes, then lock both hubs this time and do the same thing.
  • Now both wheel and u-joint should be spinning together. If you notice that hubs are locked, but wheels are not turning with the axle shaft, you’ve found the main culprit.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

How do I know if my manual locking hubs are bad?

The very first thing is not properly engaging when you drive with four-wheel drive mode. You may hear some slipping or ringing type of noise as the hub constantly fails in engaging the right way.
Also, if it engages, there will be difficulty with disengaging. Facing one or more symptoms basically means you need to give attention to the manual locking hubs and do require repair or replacement.

When should you replace locking hubs?

As soon as you face a problem that the locking hubs are causing. And this can be anytime. However, for a general idea, you should try inspecting and going for replacement after two years. Or once you have used it between 25000 to 30000 miles.

Does it hurt to leave hubs locked?

No there’s no major problem with keeping your hubs locked. Also, you won’t feel any handling restrictions with the locking. There’s a misconception about these that more traction gets created, though it’s not true.

Do manual locking hubs need a vacuum?

Having something there’s actually important when you are driving. It’s not compulsory, but good to have a vacuum.

Do you grease manual locking hubs?

Yes, you need to clean as well as grease the hubs. Often time repacking wheel bearings do not provide enough grease. As you learn how to use manual locking hubs, make sure to find out about their cleaning and maintenance parts.

Is it bad to drive with front hubs locked?

For the short term, there should be no harm with the hubs locked and having the front-drive disengaged. However, if you do this constantly, there’s a chance of worsening gas mileage. Also, wear and tear may start forming on tires a swell as components of the drive train. So, you should do it with carefulness.

Why use manual locking hubs conversion kit?

As the name suggests, these kits basically are meant for the conversion of hubs. You may want to go for conversion as manual locking hubs are actually better are reducing wear and tear.
Also, there are fuel economy incensement benefits with it. Parts won’t constantly rotate in the 2-drive wheel, one big example of how it helps.

Wrapping Up

Looks like we talked about a few commonly occurring manual locking hub problems with ford and hopefully, it’ll help you in some way.

At least you would know what’s going wrong exactly and that should help you decide what type of fixes to go for.

No doubt the locking hubs are important components of the vehicle and having issues with any of these might end up in a bad driving experience. So well done finding out more about it.

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James Noah

Ah! Driving your King has no twist when you have zero knowledge! Yes, Noah is here with his core experiences about trucks, cars, suvs and atvs. Working as a cheif editor for Automasterx to make you satisfied with solid data driven post.

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