Finding the Main Culprit behind Ford Locking Hub Issues
A reliable Ford locking hub helps in achieving better fuel efficiency, quieter performance, reduced vibration, and decreased wear. However, exposed hub locks are usually damaged when driving in off-road environments, leaving you and your vehicle stranded. Below are some details regarding the main hub issues as well as some pointers on how to diagnose and troubleshoot them:
Manual and automatic Ford locking hubs have their own problems. However, the most common issue for these two types of hub is when the hub does not engage or does not release. Usually, dirt, mud, rust, or worn-out components block the mechanism from slipping in and locking the hub. You may not notice this problem until you find your front wheels uncooperative when you are stuck in mud.
Another problem you may encounter is a hub that does not disengage. Grime and mud in the internal mechanism may prevent it from sliding and unlocking. When this happens, you can typically notice an increase in fuel intake, hear drivetrain noise on the freeway, or see premature front tire wear. Also, keep in mind that when you leave your vehicle in an unprotected area, your hubs may be locked or unlocked by malicious persons since they do not need a key to work.
- Diagnosing the locking hub
To analyze a hub problem, you may have to do a test drive or raise a front wheel to observe if the hub is locking and releasing properly. You can start by putting the transmission in park mode. Pull up the hand brake and raise the chassis. You now have one front wheel off the ground. When the transfer case is in two-wheel drive, the hubs should be released, letting the wheels turn easily when turned by hand. However, if the axle shaft turns together when you rotate the wheel, this means the hub is not releasing.
You can check the engagement by turning the axle shaft backwards, making the hub locked. Then, turn the wheel by hand again. The axle shaft should turn together with the wheel since the hub is locked. If the hub fails to engage, disassemble and replace the hub. Check the release by holding the axle shaft firmly and turn the wheel backwards. You can hear a click sound when the locking mechanism slips back out and disconnects the hub. Turn the wheel forward again. It should rotate easily.
- Troubleshooting the locking hub
After identifying the problem with your Ford locking hub, you should start solving it. Make sure to support the front wheel securely to avoid accidents. Set aside detached lug nuts and the wheel itself in a clean dry place to make it easier for you to reinstall them later. You can also put some markings on the hub and studs to know the location each part goes. When cleaning the hub, use appropriate brake cleaner and allow it to soak the agent in. You may slide the spring mechanism in the hub up and down to spread the cleaner. After cleaning, fill the hub with heated automatic transmission fluid and let it soak overnight. Make sure to install everything back properly.