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Hubs Locked or Free In 4WD

Discussion in 'Ford Trucks' started by Plow&Win, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. Plow&Win

    Plow&Win Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    I am getting mixed opinions, when should I keep my front wheel hubs locked and when should they be free? In 4WD? in 2WD?

    2002 Ford F-250 With 8' Western Plow
  2. 2FAST4U

    2FAST4U Senior Member
    Messages: 820

    From what I was told if you have the shift on the fly 4x4 you can leave it in the auto (free) mode all the time. The locking hubs are there if the vacuum line fails you then can lock the hubs and throw the switch on the cab for 4x4. I always leave mine in auto and just switch between 2 wheel and 4 wheel in the cab. Every couple storms I do lock the hubs just to keep things moving
  3. srl28

    srl28 Senior Member
    Messages: 407

    This seems to be true as I have the same setup. However-This weekend I "lost" 4x4. After panicking and taking it to our mechanic quickly and a whole buncha laughs we determined it would be good to have the hubs locked lol. Gotta keep them moving or they freeze up and your done for. Mine were almost frozen, needed pliers to get em to turn. Keep em greased and moving and freeed up.
  4. Plow&Win

    Plow&Win Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    Thanks guys. Any reason they should NOT be locked when you are in 2WD?
  5. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Better turning radius when they are not locked in.
  6. 2FAST4U

    2FAST4U Senior Member
    Messages: 820

    Less things moving too
  7. B&B

    B&B PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,777

    Lock them before the snow starts and unlock when it's done. If more operators would "exercise" the front drive components more instead of being scared to run with the hubs locked there would be allot less hubs, hub seals and U-joints replaced due to corrosion from lack of use.
  8. 2FAST4U

    2FAST4U Senior Member
    Messages: 820

    Agree, I try to do it as often as I remember. Need to do it more
  9. Plow&Win

    Plow&Win Junior Member
    Messages: 5

    Thanks guys!
  10. GL&M

    GL&M Senior Member
    from PA
    Messages: 223

    Mine get locked as needed during the summer months. At the first snow I lock them in and let them there till spring. These are manual hubs not autos.
  11. Antlerart06

    Antlerart06 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,437

    I lock mine when ever the snow plow is on mine are manual hubs
  12. mrv8outboard

    mrv8outboard Senior Member
    Messages: 205

    Ford has two different hubs for the 4wheel drive. Manual shift (lever on the floor) uses the hub with the nomenclature "LOCK" and "FREE".
    The shift on the fly (switch on the dash) hub has "LOCK and "AUTO". Yes they can be swapped. They work the same way manually but only the one with the internal diaphragm will work with the shift on the fly system (uses vacuum to activate the hub).
    Just make sure you have the right hub for the application.
  13. Red02F250

    Red02F250 Senior Member
    Messages: 109

    mrv8outboad made a good point.

    I have the shift on the fly system, but have found that the "auto" lock on the hubs is not 100% reliable. Therefore, when I know I'll be using 4x4, I'll get out and lock the hubs as if they were manual only. When I'm not using it, I will unlock the hubs just because it does, albeit very little, affect fuel mileage and definitely affects the turning radius and wear and tear on the drive line.

    As mentioned above, it is important to keep the system in good repair and good to exercise it once in a while to keep things freed up. Just my $.02
  14. vegaman04

    vegaman04 Senior Member
    Messages: 378

    Does the shift on the fly use electric or vacuum to engage the t-case on an 03 Super Duty?

    IMO keeps the darn things locked, when you need them to auto lock, they dont.
  15. Jaysled

    Jaysled Member
    Messages: 54

    How do you grease them? I there a Zerk fitting?
  16. Tony350

    Tony350 Senior Member
    Messages: 546

    It uses electric to engage the tcase. If I am going to be plowing I still lock them in manually. For occasional use I just turn the knob. I haven't noticed any difference when in 2wd if the hubs are locked or not. But to save wear and teat I try to unlock them. I agree with what else was said about locking the hubs manually to keep them free. The auto hubs seized on my dads 350 and then he had a vacuum leak and had no four wheel drive.
  17. Red02F250

    Red02F250 Senior Member
    Messages: 109

    I don't know about all shift on the fly setups over the years, but mine uses an electric motor to shift the transfer case and vacuum lines to lock the hubs. I have had both fail in the past. The transfer case shift motor is an easy repair but expensive part. If the hubs lock and not the transfer case, you get nothing but the same as if you manually lock the hubs in 2wd. If you engage the transfer case, but your hubs don't auto lock, you still end up operating in 2wd. You need the transfer case and hubs locked in to acheive 4wd, without either or both, you're stuck in 2wd.
  18. ken643

    ken643 Senior Member
    Messages: 821

    I was told by dealer, that the reason for the manual lock is in case you found yourself in a situation where you couldnt get a tire rotation for the auto lock to click in. Apparently you need some rotation of the wheel for the auto to lock the hub. This way if you cant get the rotation for what ever stuck situation you have you can manuallly lock them. Thanks what i was told. just my 2 cents. Mine are always in auto mode as recommended.
  19. Tony350

    Tony350 Senior Member
    Messages: 546

  20. Jgramlich

    Jgramlich Senior Member
    Messages: 111

    I lock when the snow starts, go in and out of 4WD throughout the storm, then unlock when i'm done plowing. Throughout the spring and summer i'll sporadically lock them for a day.