1. for access to reviews and discussion of the 2016 and 2017 Ford Explorer, Tech Tips, How to Articles, Off-Road Modification, Events, and more!

    Register Today It's free! This box will disappear once registered!

Non-working automatic hubs now work

Discussion in 'Stock 1991 - 1994 Explorers' started by gsmaclean, December 11, 2007.

  • Searches ExplorerForum.com
    1. gsmaclean

      gsmaclean Active Member

      Joined:
      February 11, 2007
      Messages:
      397
      Likes Received:
      0
      Trophy Points:
      16
      City, State:
      Strongsville, OH
      Year and Model:
      03 Limited
      Sometime over the summer the auto-locking hubs on my 94 Limited decided to quit working. They would sometimes engage (when they didn't, they would instead make a horrible grinding and/or clunking noise), and when they did engage, they would then not disengage - or one side only would disengage. I would have to jack the front end up, hold the wheel, and jiggle the drive shaft forward and backward by hand to get them to disengage.

      Now I know you rabid manual-hub-loving freaks here think it's great fun to get out and schlup around in the mud and snow every time you want to turn your 4wd on and off, but call me crazy - I'd rather just sit in the comfy dry warmth of my truck and push a button. So I read up a bit here, and decided to have a look at them.

      The hardest part was sending my wife to NAPA to buy the "cheapest bottle of automatic transmission fluid they have." The guy there, bless his heart, refused to sell her the cheapo NAPA brand, saying, "you don't really want to put that in your car." When she told him that it was actually for "the wheels on my husband's truck"...well, let's just say he shook his head, figured she was a dumb blonde (she is not - well, she is blonde, but not dumb) who had no idea what she was talking about, and sold her the cheapo fluid.

      When I pulled the hubs off, they were absolutely PACKED with grease, as was the mechanism on the spindle. I bought a big can of brake cleaner and cleaned all the grease off the spindle mechanism. I filled the hubs with brake cleaner a couple times, worked the spring mechanism up and down, and emptied it, each time watching gobs of grease fall out. Then I filled them with hot ATF, let them sit a half hour, dumped them out, and did it again. The second time I let them sit overnight full of ATF, then dumped them out and let them drain for an hour or so.

      Lastly I put a thin film of new grease on the spindle mechanism, fitted the hubs back on...and hey presto, they work better than they ever have.

      So if you are having problems with your automatic locking hubs, don't be swayed by the fanatical "you must convert to manual hubs" cult that hangs out here - a little bit of cleaning and chances are you'll be as good as new!
       
    2. Support EF


      Join the Elite Explorers for $20 a year

      Explorer Forum has probably saved you that much already, and will continue to save you money as you learn how to diagnose and fix problems yourself, and learn which modifications work without having to experiment on your own. Elite Explorer members see practically no ads, add your own profile photo, upload photo attachments directly to your posts and Media Gallery, create more private Conversations, and more. Join Today. Your support is greatly appreciated.



      to hide adverts.
    3. ThreeQuarter

      ThreeQuarter New Member

      Joined:
      September 26, 2007
      Messages:
      42
      Likes Received:
      0
      Trophy Points:
      0
      City, State:
      Expatriated Texan in Iowa
      Year and Model:
      '94 XLT
      Thanks for the voice of experience. I've noticed a few folks around here don't think very highly of auto hubs. I'm hoping to preserve mine as long as I can. I use my Ex as a work vehicle, and need it to reach tractors in the field. Even though I might get dirty while I'm working on site, I like to at least arrive looking professional. :) Auto hubs are just a better fit for some people.
       
    4. Tbars4

      Tbars4 Offroad/Fitness Moderator Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

      Joined:
      March 4, 2007
      Messages:
      26,465
      Media:
      4
      Likes Received:
      15
      Trophy Points:
      68
      City, State:
      anaheim hills,california
      Year and Model:
      95 ranger 4x4/ 91 X 4x4
      ...nice writeup...:thumbsup:

      ...you do know with manual hubs on a first gen X and up to a second gen ranger, that you can leave the hubs locked..;)
      ... i think what the manual guys were trying to express is you have less maintenance with the manual hubs and less, they don't work stories...
       
    5. manaen

      manaen Well-Known Member

      Joined:
      February 27, 2007
      Messages:
      2,709
      Likes Received:
      0
      Trophy Points:
      0
      City, State:
      Clear Spring, MD
      Year and Model:
      2011 Xterra Pro-4X
      MY biggest problem with the autos was when I really needed them, usually on a very cold day in the middle of the woods. They would not lock in properly even after trying all the tricks to get them to lock. I just got tired of the game and replaced them with manuals. Then when I would go somewhere that I anticipated using the 4x4 I would lock them in for the trip, so I knew without a doubt that I was going to have 4wd when I really needed it.

      Oh, and before you ask yeah, I service my complete 4wd system every year.
       
    6. DeRocha

      DeRocha NEX Vice President Elite Explorer Moderator Emeritus

      Joined:
      July 5, 2003
      Messages:
      6,658
      Likes Received:
      6
      Trophy Points:
      48
      City, State:
      Brockton, MA
      Year and Model:
      '93 XLT 4x4
      There is nothing wrong with having automatic hubs (especially if you routinely service them). If you have autohubs and they work it indicates they are fine for the type/style of driving you subject them to.

      The subject of auto vs manual hubs primarily comes into play when someone's autohub has mechanically failed (beyond a simple cleaning). At this point the owner has to decide if its worth spending a few hundred $ to replace a single automatic hub, or switch over to a complete set of manual hubs for less than the cost of a single automatic hub.

      For strength and reliability manuals are the proven way to go. If you mainly stay on-road and don't mind paying $$$ for the convenience of not having to manually lock hubs then go with Automatic hubs.

      IMO I would switch to manuals on their strength and reliability alone (the cost savings is an added bonus :thumbsup: I don't mind spending 30 secs to get out of the cab and lock the hubs. Obviously not as convenient as automatic hubs, but the peace of mind is worth it.
      Ford Explorer Automatic hub (91-94)
      [​IMG]
       
    7. ThreeQuarter

      ThreeQuarter New Member

      Joined:
      September 26, 2007
      Messages:
      42
      Likes Received:
      0
      Trophy Points:
      0
      City, State:
      Expatriated Texan in Iowa
      Year and Model:
      '94 XLT
      No doubt--they're a stronger, more dependable setup. I'm mostly going places on other peoples' land where I've never been before, and mud can suddenly appear under me from out of nowhere [read: I wasn't paying attention ;) ] so I like the "last-minute, effortless engage" option. Call me scatterbrained, call me lazy, both sometimes apply! I'm sure due to cost alone I will replace my autos with sturdy manuals when they break/wear out, which is why I said I'm "preserving" mine. :)
       
    8. JMan689

      JMan689 Well-Known Member

      Joined:
      August 4, 2006
      Messages:
      1,852
      Likes Received:
      0
      Trophy Points:
      0
      City, State:
      Downers Grove, IL
      Year and Model:
      '14 Focus ST
      Thats why you lock them before you go off paved surfaces...

      I don't like auto for one simple reason, they decide when they want to work and when they don't.
       
    9. DeRocha

      DeRocha NEX Vice President Elite Explorer Moderator Emeritus

      Joined:
      July 5, 2003
      Messages:
      6,658
      Likes Received:
      6
      Trophy Points:
      48
      City, State:
      Brockton, MA
      Year and Model:
      '93 XLT 4x4
      Nice right up.. :thumbsup: It always amazes me how much grease gets into the hubs, and how many mechanics still pack them thinking they need it.. :rolleyes:
       
    10. ThreeQuarter

      ThreeQuarter New Member

      Joined:
      September 26, 2007
      Messages:
      42
      Likes Received:
      0
      Trophy Points:
      0
      City, State:
      Expatriated Texan in Iowa
      Year and Model:
      '94 XLT
      LOL, farmers tend to get a chuckle out of city boys who lock their hubs every time they leave pavement--I don't want to be that guy. I leave the pavement several times a day, and in West Texas seldom need my 4wd. But when I need it, I need it. :)
       
    11. Tbars4

      Tbars4 Offroad/Fitness Moderator Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

      Joined:
      March 4, 2007
      Messages:
      26,465
      Media:
      4
      Likes Received:
      15
      Trophy Points:
      68
      City, State:
      anaheim hills,california
      Year and Model:
      95 ranger 4x4/ 91 X 4x4
      ...i've worked and lived on a lot of farms and ranches and the guy they laff most at is the guy who get's stuck...;)
       
    12. JMan689

      JMan689 Well-Known Member

      Joined:
      August 4, 2006
      Messages:
      1,852
      Likes Received:
      0
      Trophy Points:
      0
      City, State:
      Downers Grove, IL
      Year and Model:
      '14 Focus ST
      I'll go in 2 wheel untill i get stuck or suspect i'll need 4wd. And i lay under the truck to engage 4x4 so the mud and snow actually have become good friends of mine.
       
    13. spdy0001

      spdy0001 Active Member

      Joined:
      November 7, 2004
      Messages:
      186
      Likes Received:
      0
      Trophy Points:
      0
      City, State:
      New Cumberland / PA
      Year and Model:
      91 Sport / 5 speed
      Thats when your auto hubs won't work :D

      Happened to me

      Do you want to look like a city boy who locks his hubs, or do you want to look like the city boy who gets his X towed out by a tractor?
       
    14. ThreeQuarter

      ThreeQuarter New Member

      Joined:
      September 26, 2007
      Messages:
      42
      Likes Received:
      0
      Trophy Points:
      0
      City, State:
      Expatriated Texan in Iowa
      Year and Model:
      '94 XLT
      I knew this thread was going to light up. :)

      LOL I've been that guy before, but never due to the hubs I'm running. :)

      I appreciate everyone's concerns for us auto hub guys--I think we get the point. :thumbsup: As of today, though, my autos have worked 100% of the time. When they stop working is when I'll relube or replace them. I've been stuck before (understatement) & it's not the end of the world.
       
    15. Tbars4

      Tbars4 Offroad/Fitness Moderator Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

      Joined:
      March 4, 2007
      Messages:
      26,465
      Media:
      4
      Likes Received:
      15
      Trophy Points:
      68
      City, State:
      anaheim hills,california
      Year and Model:
      95 ranger 4x4/ 91 X 4x4
      ...one thing is for sure, manual hubs aren't bullet proof either...:D

      [​IMG]
       
    16. JMan689

      JMan689 Well-Known Member

      Joined:
      August 4, 2006
      Messages:
      1,852
      Likes Received:
      0
      Trophy Points:
      0
      City, State:
      Downers Grove, IL
      Year and Model:
      '14 Focus ST
      Sweet shirt tbars :thumbsup:
       
    17. Tbars4

      Tbars4 Offroad/Fitness Moderator Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

      Joined:
      March 4, 2007
      Messages:
      26,465
      Media:
      4
      Likes Received:
      15
      Trophy Points:
      68
      City, State:
      anaheim hills,california
      Year and Model:
      95 ranger 4x4/ 91 X 4x4
      ...be sure to keep an eye on the Explorerforum store in my signature for the new shirts that will be coming out soon, plus there is flags for sale on there too plus a bunch of e.f. items...;)
       
    18. JMan689

      JMan689 Well-Known Member

      Joined:
      August 4, 2006
      Messages:
      1,852
      Likes Received:
      0
      Trophy Points:
      0
      City, State:
      Downers Grove, IL
      Year and Model:
      '14 Focus ST
      Ya i know bought one of the last shirts Maniak had, Someone should make Hubs that say EF on them or something..
       
    19. DeRocha

      DeRocha NEX Vice President Elite Explorer Moderator Emeritus

      Joined:
      July 5, 2003
      Messages:
      6,658
      Likes Received:
      6
      Trophy Points:
      48
      City, State:
      Brockton, MA
      Year and Model:
      '93 XLT 4x4
      Manual hubs are Definitely not bullet proof, and I wouldn't want them to be. They act as a fuse (weak link in the drive line) and blow up as pictured. If the hub is stronger than the axle or U-joint you may have been looking at longer and messier axle swap instead of a relatively quick hub change.
       
    20. Tbars4

      Tbars4 Offroad/Fitness Moderator Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

      Joined:
      March 4, 2007
      Messages:
      26,465
      Media:
      4
      Likes Received:
      15
      Trophy Points:
      68
      City, State:
      anaheim hills,california
      Year and Model:
      95 ranger 4x4/ 91 X 4x4
      ...actually, i think i brought this to your attention awhile back...something along the lines of shear pins and you mentioned your boat....;)
       
    21. JohnnyRook

      JohnnyRook New Member

      Joined:
      March 26, 2008
      Messages:
      23
      Likes Received:
      0
      Trophy Points:
      1
      Year and Model:
      '94 Eddie Bauer
      4x4 Problems. Auto Hubs?

      My 4x4 is not engaging. I can hear the computor clicking in the rear when i puch the 4x4 button, and the light comes on. I can also hear the shift motor engage the front drive shaft. This being the case I am assuming that the problem lies my auto hubs.

      I just wanted to make sure I do the right thing to check this theory. I need to put the car in 2 wheel drive and try to rotate front axel? If the truck is in 2 wheel drive wouldn't the hubs be unlocked?

      I'm going to clean out my hubs tomorrow so I was also wondering if there are any ways to tell if the 4x4 is engaging (i.e. do the hubs make a noise when they lock in? or can you feel a difference when driving?)

      Thanks everyone!!!
       
    22. Skydiver

      Skydiver New Member

      Joined:
      August 15, 2007
      Messages:
      46
      Likes Received:
      0
      Trophy Points:
      0
      City, State:
      Ohio
      Year and Model:
      '93 Sport, v6, Auto, 4x4
      Hi Johnny,

      Rotating the front drive shaft forces the auto hubs to lock in. While in 2wd your front drive shaft is in a neutral state. You want the truck in 2wd so that you are able to turn the front drive shaft by hand. If the autos work properly, they should lock in and your wheels will begin to rotate.

      While in Park or Neutral and engine on or off, your Auto Locking Hubs serve no function or change state/function even as you engage/disengage the Transfer Case. Mechanical rotation of the front drive shaft is what will force autos to engage.


      Hope this helps explain things.
       
    23. NWmrTim

      NWmrTim New Member

      Joined:
      June 13, 2009
      Messages:
      4
      Likes Received:
      0
      Trophy Points:
      0
      City, State:
      Puget Sound area
      Year and Model:
      1992 XLT
    24. MustangDos

      MustangDos Member

      Joined:
      January 14, 2007
      Messages:
      89
      Likes Received:
      0
      Trophy Points:
      0
      City, State:
      Martinsburg, WV
      Year and Model:
      '92 XLT / '93 XLT
      Thanks for the post. I had the same problem w/ mine over the weekend, actually, it's been going on for some time now. The clicking/grinding noise has been with me for months. I figured it was still working, so why bother. Well, I really needed my 4x4 because of all the snow we got. I found myself on a 3 foot drift and was trying to rock my way out. 4wheel low was engaged and I noticed the grinding getting louder, then completely stopped. I got free but noticed that I wasn't really getting the grip that I normally do. Got home and went to go through another 3 foot drift, got sideways and I was stuck. Front wheels would not spin at all. 4wheel High and Low where lit on the dash, but no action. Neighbors got me out. Parked the truck in my driveway, jacked up it up and was checking everything. With 4wheel high off, the front axle spun free. 4wheel on, it was locked. Only tried the passenger side. Didn't realize they were independent till now. Front drive shaft wouldn't move w/ the truck in drive and in 4wheel high when I tried to turn it manually. It was free in Neutral and 4wheel high off. I replaced the shift motor, found a burnt off wire for Wheel low. Replaced the hubs w/ ones that I had laying around. Still nothing...I'm going to try to clean the hubs when I get home in the am...hope this works...Any other suggestions?!
       
    25. backfrmcolorado

      backfrmcolorado Active Member

      Joined:
      February 21, 2010
      Messages:
      557
      Likes Received:
      0
      Trophy Points:
      16
      City, State:
      Commerce Twp, MI
      Year and Model:
      '94 Eddie B explodwhore
      Ha HA My auto hubs are shot, I dont think cleaning them would be possible. Im only the third owner of my X and i knew the previous owners, both said they never used 4X4. When people ask me if its 4X4 i jusy say no... I do however have a locker in the back so i can do ok when the going get tough.
       
    26. mrroof1

      mrroof1 New Member

      Joined:
      December 29, 2010
      Messages:
      1
      Likes Received:
      0
      Trophy Points:
      0
      City, State:
      Virginia
      Year and Model:
      1992 explorer
      By 'HUB" you mean the cap you take off after the lug nuts and wheels are removed right?? and spindle mechanism is that scary lookin thing below....doe its come off too or do you do all your cleaning in the "cap" or Hub if that is what it is called
       

    Share This Page








    We Support Our Troops!