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Toyota 4runner Locking Hub

Common Toyota 4Runner Locking Hub Issues and Their Causes

The 4Runner's locking hubs allow the front wheels of the vehicle to disengage from the drive shaft. Though the hubs are made as tough as the vehicles they are installed in, wear and tear will eventually take hold of them. As a result, the locking hubs won't function as intended, which is something to fret about. Read on learn about some of the common problems of Toyota 4Runner locking hubs and their causes.

Extreme difficulty in locking or unlocking the hub

If you have trouble locking or unlocking the hub, it means that the mechanism of the locking hub has likely worn out. Try removing all the components of the hub and then clean and lubricate them before reinstalling them on the 4Runner's wheel. If that won't do the trick, you may have to rebuild or replace the unit.

Clicking sound when the hub is locked and four-wheel drive is engaged

A clicking or grinding sound means that a number of the hub's components, such as the bearings, might be failing. You can rebuild the locking hub and replace the necessary components if possible. If not, just have the whole thing replaced.

Locking hubs won't engage when 4Runner is in four-wheel drive

When your locking hubs won't engage while in four-wheel drive, it means that there's a problem with the transfer case. If the 4x4 shift motor or the bushings are worn out, fixing them might solve your problem. The locking hubs themselves may be malfunctioning. Replace the necessary components of the hub or buy a new replacement unit instead.

Hubs won't unlock

Locking hubs are usually operated by a vacuum system. A vacuum leak at any point in this system or a malfunctioning vacuum solenoid will make it virtually impossible to engage or disengage the hubs. Fixing the vacuum leaks will usually solve the problem.

Front wheels are not moving in four-wheel, low-speed drive mode

This is a common issue with the 4Runner's automatic locking hubs. There's not much that can be done in this case except to replace your auto locking hubs with manual ones.

Troubleshooting tips

Manually spinning the locking hubs by hand is one of the best ways to test their functionality. This can be done by suspending the front part of the 4Runner with jack stands. With this, you can turn the wheels while observing its effects on the 4Runner's drive shaft.

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  • Toyota 4Runner Locking Hub Care Tips

    Toyota 4Runner locking hubs allow the front-wheel to engage with the driveshaft. As integral components of a four-wheel drive system, the locking hubs usually find themselves in some of the harshest situations off-road. This contributes to the hubs' eventual decline and the deterioration of the other components of the four-wheel drive system. With some careful service and maintenance, though, you could extend the life of the hubs considerably. Read on to learn more maintenance tips for Toyota 4Runner locking hubs.


    Inspect the wheels regularly and whenever necessary.


    Inspecting the locking hubs will usually be enough to catch any problem that may have begun to take hold. It is important to catch problems and fix them before the situation worsens. One way to inspect the wheels is to test out the locking hubs by manually rotating the tires. Elevate the front of the vehicle with a hydraulic jack before suspending them on jack stands. While rotating the wheels and testing out the locking hub, be sure to observe the drive shaft as well; it shouldn't rotate if the hubs are unlocked.


    Service the locking hubs regularly.


    You should do fine by servicing the locking hubs every 30,000 miles or every two years, but if you drive your 4Runner through dirt roads and mud puddles often, you should have them serviced sooner. Servicing the blocking hubs usually mean disassembling the unit, cleaning and lubricating all of the pieces, and, finally, replacing irreparable components before putting them all back together. Pay careful attention to the hub bearings and the splines in the hub and axle--these are especially prone to wear and tear. While making your locking hubs last a little longer, this is also a good solution if the locking hubs are starting to fail.


    Replace the locking hubs when necessary.


    If the hubs reach a point that is beyond any reasonable repair, it will be best to replace the whole thing. Hubs are usually considered as the weakest part of any four-wheel drive system, and it is not unusual for it to be one of the first components to fail. Take this chance to try other types of hub; if you have previously used automatic hubs, which many consider to be inferior, try getting manual hubs instead.