Starting right from applying the torque to the driveshaft, sliding the hub, and finally keeping it in the locked position – that’s the secret of the one-way clutch mechanism of the front locking hub.
If you’re not aware of the strategy behind it, let’s dig a little deeper!
The front-locking automatic hubs are explicitly for disengaging the front wheels when you don’t need a four-wheeled drive. And you know what? It may enhance the fuel economy of your F250 by one mile per gallon by just removing the front wheels.
Although this may sound much less, trust me, every bit of it adds to make a huge difference.
We’re here with our detailed guide on the complete working of the front locking hub. Plus, you’ll know how you will remove the front wheels to make the entire process straightforward.
Working of Front Locking Hub
Do you know what the main advantage of disengaging the front wheels is? When you’re on the go, you can have your front wheels disengaged without actually coming out of the vehicle and getting this done.
You don’t certainly have to stop on the highway and engage or disengage the wheels by twisting the dial. Here comes the automatic front locking hub into play that makes everything possible on the go.
It works on the mechanism of the one-way clutch. Let’s explore the secret of this mechanism! The job starts right from the driveshaft that applies torque and forces the hub to glide into the lock.
As long as the transfer case stays in a four-wheeled drive, the hub remains in the locked position, too. When you switch it to a two-wheeled drive, the clutch mechanism comes into play to release the hub by sliding back out.
The ultimate result is that the wheels become independent of its axle shaft – and that’s it!
How to Manually Lock Hubs on F250
The automated front locking hubs are vacuum actuated with an actuator inside. You can take it as two cogs are spinning, and the vacuum pulls them closer to lock them in a four-wheeled drive.
But wait! What if something happens to the vacuum line or an actuator? It will probably not lock together, and you’ll be only left with your two-wheeled drive.
And trust me, if you don’t know how to lock your hub manually, you’re in a bad situation. Something in the system has decided to stop working, and the only option left behind is getting out of the car and manually performing the operation.
Is manual locking safe for a two-wheeled drive?
So, before we get right into the process, it’s important to know that can you manually lock the hub and go with your two-wheeled drive or not. Here’s a big YES! You can do this, for sure.
The only problem is that they’ll burn quite more fuel, and your turning radius will be a little bit wider than it was supposed to be in the automatic.
Moreover, if you make some tight turns, these hubs can damage the axle too.
The Locking Process – Step by Step
If you’re up for some hardcore off-roading, you can pull off the hub on the mid of the highway to your desired drive.
Let’s get right into this little process to get things underway!
Step 1 – Determine the model
If you have an updated Ford model, let’s just say F250, there are both options of manual and automatic front locking systems. The choice is yours that which way you like to lock the hub down.
Step 2 – Flick the mode
Move into your truck, and here you’ll see a panel showing options of a four-wheeled drive and a two-wheeled drive.
Here, you’re going to rotate the switch and lock it on the mode you want. Here, let’s suppose you shift this fly on a four-wheeled drive and move on to the next step.
Step 3 – Squint into the wheel panel
Step ahead towards the front-wheel panel of your Ford. You will see a small rotating switch that will decide the mode. There are two options on the center of the wheel panel ‘lock’ and ‘auto.’ You have to choose any by rotating in either direction.
Step 4 – Lock the hub
If you want to lock the front-locking hub in place, you have to rotate the switch in a clockwise direction. For setting the auto mode, you have to move it counterclockwise. It’s that simple!
But wait! This method is only applicable to the latest Ford model. If you have any older version, you’ll not have the ‘lock’ and ‘auto’ options, and you only have to work on the little ticks placed on the sides.
That’s all! You have successfully locked your hub manually.
Some Hub Locking Problems and their Diagnosis
Sometimes it just happens that the hubs fail to engage – that’s most common among automatic front locking hubs. Rust, mud, or some worn parts play their best role to prevent hub sliding and locking.
The crazy thing is you don’t get to know that your hub is locked or not unless you find yourself stuck in an axle. At that time, the front wheels won’t be doing anything wrong.
You may hear some grinding and growling noises when you shift the mode to four-wheeled drive. The first thing that comes to mind is that there might be any defect in the front differential or transfer case.
The ultimate result? You’ll immediately feel increased fuel consumption and front-tire wear.
What’s the catch, by the way?
You have to perform a test either while driving it or raising the front wheels. Check the hub properly and see if it’s engaging and disengaging or not.
Start by putting the transmission in park and opening the chassis to lay one of the front wheels on the ground and the other slightly raised.
If the transfer case is in a two-wheeled drive, make sure the hub is in the released position making the wheels spin freely by hand. The hub won’t be disengaged if the axle shaft also moves along with the wheels.
Rotate the axle shaft in the backward direction and lock the hub and make sure if it’s locked or not.
How to Maintain the Front Locking Hubs
If you want to make your F250 locking hubs last longer, you’ll need to maintain them properly. For that, you’ll have to disassemble all the parts of the locking hub.
Start right from the outer cover that’s fixed through 5-6 Torx screws. Once you remove the cover, start loosening the other clips and fasteners that are clasping the wheel hub to the assembly.
The disassembling and reassembling methods are quite different for particular hubs, and that’s why we recommend using OEM service information for the details.
But wait! If you don’t have any online service or manual, it’s better to go for disassembling one hub at a time. Even if you forget how the hubs came apart, you can use the sequence as a guide.
The Bottom Line
From the way the front-locking hubs work to their manual operation and finally their proper maintenance, that’s how we have covered every aspect of F250 locking hubs.
Here, you’ll get everything you want to know about your F250 hubs for a smoother and comfortable experience.