Hub Exploded | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Hub Exploded

Derek Greenwood

Active Member
Joined
May 10, 2010
Messages
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City, State
Clearwater Florida
Year, Model & Trim Level
94 Sport
Well I didn't listen and I paid the price. I had "good" automatic hubs in my 4x4 Explorer Sport. I towed my popup camper to Colorado and while there decided to do a bit of 4 wheeling. As an easy first trail I went up an road that didn't need 4wd at all but low range was nice because it was rocky and slow going. During the trip I noticed what sounded like a rocks hitting the bottom of the truck at times. When I returned to camp after about 5 miles of the slow rough and rocky road I noticed to my suprise that my drivers side hub and exploded. Yep, nothing left. The housing and completely come apart. So while on vacation I had the privledge of calling NAPA and order Warn manual hubs, the adapter kit, a hub nut socket and a breaker bar. I owned the hub nut socket and breaker bar but didn't bring it with me on vacation so I got the buy another one. The next day the hubs arrived and after about an hour in the NAPA parking lot I had the hubs changed out.

Later I went up a nice and nasty mountain trail with bigger rocks and I really needed 4wd. The Warn hubs held up great and I had a great time. The stupid automatic hubs cost me 2 1/2 days of my vacation as I could not go off roading during that time. So, believe it when people say the auto hubs are junk. I suppose if you run only in soft dirt or sand or snow and never jar them on rocks then they might hold up. My truck in running on 31`s and has 3:73 gears so there is not that much stress on them. Plus the road I broke them on was nearly flat but rocky. It was so flat, if I had had the manual hubs I wouldn't even have bothered to lock them in.

Live and learn
 



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The auto hubs are fine for the light wheeling the auto 4x4 was made for. Obviously if you're going to do lots of wheeling and have them locked up most of the time, the manuals would be a better choice.

The stock auto hubs had some weak points that Ford later addressed by offering an upgraded auto hub assembly, though one hub cost more than a pair of manuals with the conversion kit.

You could probably make a little money back selling off your remaining auto hub and the socket. Those of us that still use the auto hubs just keep spares, so if a hub ever goes like that, just pop a new one on and keep going.
 






Auto hubs are for those who like to walk out

I threw it away. I thought that for light wheeling they would work too. That is what the forum had said, but I was wrong. These were the late 94 hubs. They were in good shape. I had just cleaned them and they engaged and disengaged easily. The road I was on was not a 4wd road other then it was very rough and I wanted to go slow so I put it in low range. There was nothing more than 6 inchs in raise or drop over rocks or ruts. I think they exploded going over the rocks and dropping off.

The point I was trying to make was for something other than snow or very soft conditions I wouldn't trust them. You don't want to get into a situation where you NEED 4wd because they will EXPLODE.

You can't drive them in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado for example. When I drove back to camp and told my relatives, who are from Colorado, a hub had exploded they looked at me and say yeah. "Mine broke and Moms broke and..." "Those old Ford hubs only work on snow and ice. Anything else and you will break them."

So my only point is that if you are wheeling and you actually need 4wd to get out don't use the auto hubs unless you like to walk.
 






You threw it away? Is it gone? What about the hub socket?

I've yet to have a problem with my auto hubs, and have wheeled in the Rocky Mountains and all over the U.S. But I also take it easy and only use 4WD in sticky situations.

Even the manual hubs have busted though, but that's part of the design. The locking hub fails before the axle breaks or other damage happens. Makes sense from an engineering point of view, have the weakest part of the system be on the outside and easily replaced. I'd rather bust a hub on the trail and be able to just take off the tire and replace it and be on my way than have a broken axle or chewed up gears, which are a lot harder to fix.
 






I exploded a manual mile marker hub on my 93 by just trying to climb a couple tires for a poser pic!!! just saying that i agree with anime that i would rather change a hub than gears or an axle. but i have never had ANY good luck with any auto hubs so that is one of the first things i changed on mine!!!
 






Of course the hub should be the weak part because they are easy to change. The point I am trying to make it that the auto hubs are too weak. If you saw the road it exploded on you would have laughed. I don't know about you but I don't want to walk out. If the hub is so weak that it will strand you then I don't want it.
 












My guess is the hub already had issues.. Even though the auto hubs are weak they don't just explode at the first rock.

If you were running (or have run) in 4x4 on high traction ground (asphalt) that will put quite a bit of stress on them. I'd say even more than wheeling. That can also weaken and possibly explode a hub.

Just some thoughts.. The auto hubs are crap but normally they just ratchet when they break. They don't normally explode

BTW.. one added feature to having manual hubs is you can get 2wd low. That can come in handy if you need the extra torque but are on asphalt where you can't use 4x4.

~Mark
 






Exactly it is much better to have manual hubs so that you can run in 2wd low range. It wasn't the first rock it was 2 1/2 miles of a rough rocky road. It wasn't steep which is why I said I didn't need 4wd but I did want low range.
 






If you were running (or have run) in 4x4 on high traction ground (asphalt) that will put quite a bit of stress on them. I'd say even more than wheeling. That can also weaken and possibly explode a hub.

This is what usually does it. A lot of people don't realize how the 91-94's are geared, and drive with 4WD on pavement, packed dirt roads, and lots of other surfaces where there is no tire slip, hence the drivetrain winds up and of course the hub breaks.

This is still by design. Even if you screw up the hub just fails and you're not left with a catastrophic drivetrain mess.

The auto hubs weren't meant to be used when these things were modified into rock crawlers with mud tires. Nor are they meant to be engaged full-time all day long. They are decent for what they are, when used with all-terrain tires and in conditions where the front tires can slip. I'm still on the original auto hubs, without having rebuilt them or anything. I use them as it seems they were meant to be used - only when you need 4WD. If you don't, disengage 4WD, unlock the hubs, proceed in 2WD, and re-engage 4WD the next time you need it. Used this way they seem to last and not have issues. I have a pair of the upgraded hubs as backups just in case, though.
 






As long as I have owned my old automatic hubs I have never engaged them on pavement. I do have Hankook 31inch all terrain tires and I was driving on a pretty hardpacked dirt road with lots of rocks and water caused depressions. It should not have failed like it did. It is all fine and dandy that they will break before the drivetrain but this was just plain silly. Maybe over the years they developed a stress fracture and chose this moment to give up. All I know is that if I was really back in the hills and required 4wd to get out I would be SOL and would have been walking.
 






Just keep in mind the manual hubs aren't any "stronger" than the autos, they will still fail and/or explode if the vehicle is run in conditions where the front tires can't slip or don't slip enough, and the drivetrain winds up.

The manuals have "stronger" grip in that they will hold and stay engaged in situations where worn out autos will eventually fail internally and no longer lock.

The best bet is not to rely fully on one set of hubs and always keep a spare hub, or better yet a complete spare set. They don't have to be new, even just a cheap set from the salvage yard that you keep in the rig can be that difference between driving or walking out.
 






BTW.. one added feature to having manual hubs is you can get 2wd low. That can come in handy if you need the extra torque but are on asphalt where you can't use 4x4.

~Mark

Would that not be exactly the same as just going into first gear?
:dunno:
 






Nope, he means with manual hubs, you can leave the hubs unlocked but still use low range, which is 4WD only with autos because the auto hubs engage in either direction.

It's essentially 2WD low because even though the front driveshaft and gears are moving in 4WD LO, the unlocked manual hubs prevent the front wheels from being driven.

Low range is quite a bit lower than first gear. It's great for getting up hills. Great feature of the manuals because a good use for low range is stuff like getting up the ramp at a boat launch. Saves wear and tear on the hubs and drivetrain since the hubs aren't engaged, and is a snap since you don't have to get out and do anything with the hubs.
 






Actually the Warn manual hubs are quite a bit stronger. The internals are stonger and the housing is stronger.
 






You can also buy the Jeep version of the manual hubs (37780) which is reported to be even stronger than the typical one Warn sells for the explorer 29071.

Since the hub is used like a fuse (its the weak link) I do carry a spare set in the X.

Heck, I'm to the point now that I carry spare hubs and spare front shafts when I go wheeling. Since I don't run with a c-clip in my front axle I can change my front shafts out in less time than it takes to replace a blown u-joint. Just in case, I do carry u-joints too.

~Mark
 






I also have done the c-clip eliminator modification. I stumbled onto new axles in the junk yard. Someone must have had them installed shortly before junking the car
 






Actually the Warn manual hubs are quite a bit stronger. The internals are stonger and the housing is stronger.

I'm telling you, the manual hubs aren't any 'stronger' internally or externally. They have a lot of the same hardware as the autos, the metal is the same, and the housing is actually weaker since it has the hole on the end for the plastic switch.

The stock auto hubs used some plastic stuff which is part of their problem, but the revised auto hubs use all metal construction, same as the manuals, making them about the same. But again, those are a few hundred dollars each and you can get a complete manual set and conversion kit for less than the price of one, so of course it makes more sense to go manual.

The way they are 'stronger' is in staying engaged. A well-worn manual will stay locked, where a well-worn auto hub, at a certain point, will ratchet and no longer stay locked reliably. Of course new hubs of either design hold fine.

...one thing is for sure, manual hubs aren't bullet proof either...:D

1022689uz1.jpg
 






I am not talking about some later, not available originally on our truck version auto hub. I am talking about the ones that came on our trucks. The plastic guts and cheap almost potmetal housing ones. A good auto hub can be just as tough as a good manual one. But the Ford ones that came on our trucks were not good.
 



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I, too, have had many years of no autohub explosions or failures. Of course, I am mindful of their limits, but again.. they've never failed me.
Honestly, the time I thought they'd go was when my GF got my ride stuck in a hella mud hole, and she was switching from drive to reverse (rather forcefully) tryin to get the truck loose.

Maniak might (?) be making a point here, that the plastic stuff on the autohub is for engagement and not under direct drive load. Now, if the engagement is iffy.. seems like the hub would ratchet or bust. /just a thought
 






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