What do locking hubs do?
Located in the middle of your two front wheels, the locking hubs are what allow you to use your vehicle's 4-wheel drive capability. When the locking hubs are engaged, you engine will power all four wheels of your vehicle. When they are disengaged, only the rear wheels will pull. By engaging and disengaging the locking hubs, you are able to shift from rear-wheel drive to 4-wheel drive as needed.
When should locking hubs be replaced?
Locking hubs are subjected to much wear and tear, especially if you do a lot of off-road driving. Some signs that your locking hubs need replacing are:
- Four-wheel drive is not engaging - One or both of your front wheels may not pull
- Grinding noises while driving
- Unable to disengage the four-wheel drive - the hubs may make loud popping noises in this case
What kind of locking hubs should be used?
You will find that only a select number of locking hubs are compatible with your particular vehicle. However, there are generally two types of locking hubs: manual and automatic.
Manual locking hubs require you to stop, get out of your vehicle, and manually turn the dial on each hub from "free" to "lock" (one should never drive with one hub locked and the other unlocked - this could lead to difficult handling and damage to your vehicle). You will then need to get back inside and shift to "neutral" before engaging the 4-wheel drive. Despite the inconvenience, manual locking hubs are ideal if you expect to do a lot of heavy-duty driving.
Automatic locking hubs allow you to activate 4-wheel drive from inside your vehicle while driving - removing the need to stop and get out of your vehicle. However, in most cases, your vehicle will have to move a short distance before the hubs can engage or disengage. This becomes a problem if your vehicle gets stuck before you are able to switch to 4-wheel drive.
On the whole, we recommend manual locking hubs for intense off-road driving and automatic hubs for casual and comfortable driving. However, see if your vehicle has a backup system that allows you to manually engage 4-wheel drive when your automatic hubs fail.
What other factors are considered in choosing locking hubs?
- Compatibility - Make sure that the locking hubs you will order have the right specifications for your vehicle. Your owner's manual should have all the specs you need in finding replacement parts.
- Installation - It is possible for you to save money by replacing the locking hubs yourself. After ensuring that the replacement parts you ordered are compatible with your vehicle, see to it that they come with an installation manual and all components you need for the job.