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Diagnosing automatic locking hub problems

gsmaclean

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I went through this recently, and didn't find any information here on doing this, so after working it out on my own, I thought I would post this.

First off: How to check that your locking hubs are working correctly.

  1. Put your truck in park. Make sure it is in 2WD high. Set the parking brake.
  2. Jack left front wheel off the ground.
  3. Find the front driveshaft - it's the round bar (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter) going from the transfer case (behind the transmission) to the front differential (the big round thing in the middle of the front wheels).
  4. Turn the front driveshaft. It should turn freely. You should see the half shaft (the shaft connecting the front differential to the wheel) of the raised wheel turn as you turn the driveshaft.
  5. Within one or two turns, the hub in the wheel should lock up, and the wheel should start turning, either forwards or backwards (depending on which way you are turning the shaft).
  6. Hold onto the driveshaft to try to prevent it from turning. Try to rotate the wheel in the same direction it was just turning. It should turn the driveshaft you are hanging onto as you turn the wheel.
  7. Hold onto the driveshaft to prevent it from turning. Rotate the wheel in the opposite direction. You should feel the hub unlock, and the wheel should spin freely without turning the driveshaft.
  8. Turn the front driveshaft in the opposite direction you did before. You should see the half shaft (the shaft connecting the front differential to the wheel) of the raised wheel turn as you turn the driveshaft.
  9. Within one or two turns, the hub in the wheel should lock up, and the wheel should start turning, the opposite way than it did before.
  10. Hold onto the driveshaft to try to prevent it from turning. Try to rotate the wheel in the same direction it was just turning. It should turn the driveshaft you are hanging onto as you turn the wheel.
  11. Hold onto the driveshaft to prevent it from turning. Rotate the wheel in the opposite direction. You should feel the hub unlock, and the wheel should spin freely without turning the driveshaft.
  12. Lower the wheel, jack up the opposite wheel, and repeat the tests.

If everything happens as described above, your hubs are operating correctly. If not, chances are your hubs are dirty and/or full of grease.

Cleaning your hubs

  1. Jack up the front wheel.
  2. Remove the lug nuts and the wheel.
  3. If the clips on the studs holding the hub in place are still there, remove them.
  4. Put a small mark (a sharpie marker works well) on the hub and on one of the studs, so you know which position it goes on.
  5. Pull the hub off the spindle. Clean any visible grease out of the hub.
  6. Fill the hub up with brake cleaner, and let it sit for 5 minutes. Move the spring mechanism in the hub up and down with a screwdriver several times to move the brake cleaner in and around any grease that may be in it. Dump the brake cleaner out. Repeat several times.
  7. Heat up some ATF (automatic transmission fluid) by immersing the plastic bottle in some hot water for a few minutes. Dry off the bottle and fill the hub with ATF. Let the hub sit overnight.
  8. Turn the hub over and drain the ATF out. Let it drain for a good 15-20 minutes.
  9. Clean all visible grease off the spindle. Put a very thin layer of fresh grease over the spindle.
  10. Reinstall the hub (make sure the marks you made on the hub match up with the marks you made on the stud)
  11. Reinstall the clips (if any) and wheel.
 


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BrooklynBay

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JohnnyRook

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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!!!
 




gsmaclean

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If you turn a corner on dry pavement with 4 wheel drive engaged, it will bind up and feel like it is scrubbing the rubber off your tires (because it is).
 




bigredscowboy

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One day I'll have 4x4

[*]Put a small mark (a sharpie marker works well) on the hub and on one of the studs, so you know which position it goes on.
[*]....Move the spring mechanism in the hub up and down with a screwdriver several times to move the brake cleaner in and around any grease that may be in it.
[/LIST]
Forgive me for not knowing what most of the components are called, I'm a newbie...

First off, my 4x4 has gone through all of the stages of failure that everyone else has had. Presently the lights work no longer and there is no more clicking. Those can be fixed in time but my initial problem is that I cannot get the hubs to lock to the wheel:

I have rotated the front driveshaft and my tires do not turn, although the "half shaft" does. I took the wheel off and the Hub (cylinder labeled 4x4 on the outside) came off with the wheel. It had grease caked in there so I pulled the pin out and pulled the gear mechanism out and wiped it all clean with a cloth.

edit: So after further cleaning, I learned that the outermost bushing (don't know the name) can be pushed in against the spring. The spring has a certain amount of tension which I assume is to be expected. I put the whole contraption back together and my wheel still does not turn, even though the gear on the axle is turning inside the hub. Basically my hub is not locking. I did not mark anything when it was taken apart but it seemed to go back together just about anyway I put it (is the mark necessary?). Any suggestions.

Furthermore, my driver side half shaft only rotates when the hub is not on it. Do I need a new differential?
 




bigredscowboy

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bump
 




MrShorty

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Do you feel you got the hubs adequately cleaned out? If one hub is working and the other isn't, what happens if you move the outer part of the hub (the cylinder with the 4x4 sticker) to the other side? If the same side still doesn't lock, then the internal parts may be worn and you simply need new hubs.
 




lilmike2

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4 wheel drive problems 1994 explorer xlt

i have a issue.. my exploreer goes into 4 wheel drive fine.. it has 50000 miles.. i am orginal owner...when i am driveing it seems to go into 4 wheel by itself.. i tried backing up for 10 feet plus.. ng.. i hear a whineining and a clunking... then it goes in.. trans shop wants to replace hubs to manuel.. i dont mind this.. what can it be..?? please advise asap... truck is in shop.. money is tight... thank you very much...
 




JDraper

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If the sound is kind of a ratcheting sound like putting a playing card in bicycle spokes, it's most likely your hubs. When they go, that's one of the symptoms. If that's the case, then it's time for new hubs.

You can buy new hubs (along with the required locking nut kit) for under $200 and do it yourself if you can turn a wrench. You need a special hub socket ($15) to do the job and some patience. This isn't a complicated job, and it can be done in the driveway.
 




lilmike2

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reply

before this happend i hear a whirrring sound then a clunking.. could it be a dirty hubs..?? seems to happen in winter summer no problems.. it happenrd last year and by the spring it was gone the noise and problem... does the cold weather affect hubs???when i turn corners this happens....
 




JDraper

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If the hubs are overgreased, cold weather will make it worse, and cornering is where it will show up. The hubs should not be greased, just oiled lightly. If they are packed in grease, it will cause problems.
 




detroitdiesel95

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What about "Control Track"??

Hey, I've got a 5 speed 97 4x4 Explorer Sport (A rare find) It has the auto setting instead of 2WH. Is the procedure the same?
? My last 4x4 pick up had manual Locking hubs, I've taken those apart and cleaned them up a few times, and they worked great. I think my hubs on the Explorer are locked and won't unlock. I noticed this after playing on some Ice a few weeks ago. I know the "Auto" on the four wheel drive dial takes the place of "4 wheel High" and engages the 4 wheel drive when one of the rear tires looses traction. I did not know this suv did that. A friend of mine explained that to me.When I drive lately its very rough and vibrative as if more gears are turning, or the front two tires are made of cement. I jacked up the front end and spun the both steers, they're turning the front driveshaft, with the selector dial in the "Auto" position. That shouldn't be happening right? Could the hubs be jamed or dirty?? Is there a manual locking hub conversion for this year Explorer? If not will the one for the 97 Ranger work??
 




detroitdiesel95

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Does this work for 1997 Expl Sport with "Auto" "Control-Trac" There is no "2Wheel High" setting on the dial. Only "Auto". I think my hubs are stuck in Locked postion.
 




gsmaclean

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Does this work for 1997 Expl Sport with "Auto" "Control-Trac" There is no "2Wheel High" setting on the dial. Only "Auto". I think my hubs are stuck in Locked postion.

Your truck does not have hubs. The front wheels are always connected to the front drivetrain. The transfer case has electronic clutches that decide when to engage the front wheels.

If your truck is scrubbing rubber and binding the drivetrain when you turn on dry pavement, and you have it set to 4x4 Auto, then you've got a problem in your transfer case.
 




detroitdiesel95

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Spinning free

Are you sure about this?? I remember times where I have removed the front wheels to rotate tires, look at and bleed brakes ect.., and spinning them, and they spun free and clear. No drive shaft or half shaft was turning. Wouldn't that mean there are locking and unlocking hubs?? Also When I do put the selector dial in "4Wheel High" or "Low" then there is the normal "binding" and "Scrubing" That I expect. That was normal of my last couple of 4x4's, so I'm not concerned about that. There is no binding and scrubing in the "Auto" position, but I feel more gears turning in the front of the vehicle. Its a considerable difference then when in "4WH or 4WL" where I feel the transfer case gears vibrate and come alive. But the vibration and feeling of gears turning up front wasn't always there in the "Auto" position. It started recently during this winter.
 




gsmaclean

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oops...wrong forum. I thought I was replying in the 2002-2005 forum (I now have a 2003, I replaced my 1994).

I'm not sure if your 97 has locking hubs or not. From what you described in the above message, it sounds like you do, and that they are locked up and not releasing. Have you pulled the wheels off and looked to see if there are hubs - and if so, are they dirty?
 




MrShorty

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My understanding was that '97+ Explorers were permanently engaged at the wheel. '95 and '96 used a vacuum actuated center axle disconnect, but the wheels should still be attached to the axleshafts. I would suggest you pose your question in the 2nd gen forum, where they are more familiar with the ins and outs of the 2nd gen 4wd system.
 


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Glen4X4

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Yes, the 97 has a live axle where the wheels are locked to the front axle at all times, auto is when the clutch inside the transfer case and turns the drive shaft as long as there is slippage at the rear wheels. If you wish for your explorer not to engage 4X4 automatically refer to the Brown-Wire-Mod on this site. If you have further questions try to search it and if you can't find it start a new thread on your question in the 2nd generation forum and someone will try and help ya out.
 




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