What Are The Common Problems With Manual Locking Hub?

In a four-wheel drive, the car is equipped either with automatic hubs or manual locking hubs. Each type has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Also, it is a matter of personal preference. 

However, in either case, you are likely to face some problems. Knowing about them ahead of time will help you prepare for any unforeseen circumstances.

Before going into detail, here is a list of common manual locking Hubs issues you might face while driving. 

The most common manual locking hub problem is when the hubs do not engage. The other issue includes: Locking Hubs not disengaging and grinding noise. 

In this article, we will walk you through these issues in further depth. Let’s jump into the details. 

About manual locking hubs

Unlike the automatic hubs, where you need to press the 4WD switch, manual locking hubs require you to exit the vehicle and manually lock the Hub. 

The Hub is labeled with Lock and Unlock. You just need to turn the handle in the direction of “Lock.”

You must lock it when the car is in 4WD mode and unlock it when the vehicle is in 2WD mode. These hubs are primarily seen in the old fashion ford or Toyota, but many modern fords also feature manual locking hubs.

How does the Manual locking Hub work?

A manual lock is equipped with a spring-loaded collar. When the actuator is set to lock, the cooler connects with the front axle shafts, turning them into one unit. On the other hand, when you unlock the Hub, the front wheel just follows the rear wheels.

So basically, there are two steps. First, engage the 4WD mode by pressing a 4WD switch on the car’s dash. Second, you come out of the car and manually lock the hubs. Most importantly, before taking the steps, make sure the vehicle is neutral. 

Do it consciously. If you only enter 4WD mode but do not manually set the hubs to the lock position, the vehicle will stay in 2WD mode. 

Lists of Common Problems with Manual Locking Hub

Manual locking hubs are exposed more to the outside environment and more susceptible to wire and tear. Also, Mud and rust or worn parts play a crucial role behind manual locking hub issues. Here we will talk about them along with how to fix them.

1. Manual hubs not Engaging Due to Wire and Tear

This is by far the most common issue. In this case, the manual locking hubs fail to Engage. This is primarily due to the Hub’s wear and tear. 

As a result, when you select the 4WD high or 4WD low button on the car’s dash, you may not be able to engage the front wheel correctly. 

If the hubs are broken, the transfer case will not be able to provide power to the front wheels. 

The vehicle will remain in 2WD mode even if the 4WD mode is turned on. However, the good news is that problems can be solved quickly.

To do so, hubs must usually be disassembled, cleaned, and adequately lubricated to resolve the issue. It is preferable to replace the Hub if the wiring and wear are excessive.

2. Manual Hubs Engage but not Disengage

This is precisely the opposite of what we have described earlier. In a manual locking hub, this happens after the Hub is engaged. It can occur if the hubs are infiltrated by water.

Sudden wire and tear are also responsible for this issue. If the inner rust builds up a bit, it prevents the actuator from properly engaging the front axle. 

The problem, however, can be solved by removing the rust, cleaning, and applying aftermarket grease.

3. Manual Hubs Clicking Noise

This happens mainly after the manual hubs are locked. When hubs are locked, it engages the driveshaft to turn, but if one of your hubs is broken, it fails to turn the shaft and creates a clicking sound. 

The other reason could be faulty u-joints on the front axle shafts. Also, check the brake capillary. Even slide damage in this part might produce a clicking noise.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Manual Locking Hubs

The first advantage we like is that you can confidently lock and unlock the Hubs with your hands. Moreover, the manual locking hubs slightly increase fuel-saving. 

Also, when the hubs are unlocked, the front axles are disconnected. As a result, the wire and tear on the front drivetrain are reduced.

On the other hand, a manual locking hub, compared to auto-lock, requires you to step out of the car and physically lock the Hub. 

In addition, because the manual lock is exposed to the outside environment, small debris, Mud, and water affect the Hubs.

Can you drive a Car with Manual Hubs Locked?

Yes, you can drive a car with manual Hubs Locked. Usually, it does not cause much problem, but it will cost you a bit more fuel. 

If you don’t do a lot of full driving, it’s okay to be driving with manual hubs locked.


So you have learned about the common problems of Manual locking hubs. We try to analyze each issue and discuss how to fix them. You also get to know the benefits of Manual locking hubs compared to Auto Hubs.

Learning about them is crucial. When turning the vehicle into a 4WD mode, worn locking hubs prevent you from engaging the 4WD mode when necessary. 

As a result, you might get stuck on a muddy road and ruin the entire off-road experience. 

So a basic understanding of how it works and what to do if the issue arises, you are more likely to prevent a terrible scenario in the future

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