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Old 02-21-2019, 11:40 AM   #1
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Clicking with hubs locked?

I have noticed that when I am driving with my hubs locked but the vehicle NOT in 4WD, I get this speed sensitive clicking noise.

Just dropped off my van for oil change, etc. and mentioned it. The guy said that you should never drive the van this way. In other words, driving with the hubs locked and not engaged in 4WD is bad.

I have always done this. Primarily, when I know at some point I will need 4WD, I lock the hubs at a planned stop, drive to snow/mud, engage 4WD clear obstacle and proceed.

Apparently, this is bad.

Any thoughts on this?

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Old 02-21-2019, 03:39 PM   #2
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It shouldn't be bad...unless you are driving consistently with them locked at high speeds.

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Old 02-21-2019, 08:14 PM   #3
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Locking hubs are so old fashioned !

Coming from snow country and a lot of 4X4 plowing under my belt, we were brought up with the same sage advise.

I dunno if it were true, but back then only a greenhorn would keep his hubs locked if not in 4WD if for no other reason than to avoid being chastised by the ones who came before !

My last old F250 had clickin' hubs though and I wore it like a badge of honor !
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Old 02-22-2019, 12:00 AM   #4
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You're probably just hearing the front drive shaft. Shouldn't hurt anything other than gas mileage.

If your van has less than perfect geometry, and your axle has a bit of drag, handling may suffer a little as well. For me, this was particularly pronounced, before I fixed the caster on my van.

Edit: I replaced my vacuum actuated hubs with manual ones after the automatic ones kept sticking in the locked position.

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Old 02-22-2019, 07:50 AM   #5
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Beyond adding wear and drag which decreases mileage, everything inside the diff turns when your in 4wd. With locked hubs, In 2wd, everything but the driveshaft still turns the same way, the gears are just driven by the wheels instead of the driveshaft. When I'm off road, I'm in and out of fwd often, with the hubs locked all the time. On the road, with the hubs locked, there is a very noticeable increase in drag and the steering gets heavier so I avoid locked hubs on pavement unless I need fwd in snow. I'm no expert, but I doubt anything is damaged with locked hubs, but for sure it adds wear.
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Old 02-22-2019, 09:32 AM   #6
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That "advice" your service guy is telling you is a bunch of bull! All the front hubs on your rig do, when locked, is couple the front wheels to the front axles. When not locked, the front wheels "free wheel" - spin freely with no connection to the rest of the front drive components. Having the hubs locked but the transfer case in 2wd doesn't hurt a thing. Note that Jeep Wranglers, Dodge pickups, etc. gave up using hubs years ago and just let all those front driveline components turn all the time - same as you would do if you locked your hubs. There are several companies now that manufacture kits to convert Dodge pickups to manual hubs just to get away from having the front driveline components turn and wear needlessly.
My dad lived in snow country and always owned a Ford 4wd pickup. He locked his hubs in November and unlocked them in April. Both my van and my Dodge pickup have the front hubs. If I even think there is a remote possibility I might need 4wd I lock the hubs beforehand.

As far as the clicking noise - check your u joints on both the front drive shaft and the front axles carefully. It's possible one of the u joints is going bad.
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Old 02-22-2019, 12:05 PM   #7
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Great advice from all and a much needed reality check.

It is always a bit disturbing when your mechanic doesn't know what he is talking about . . . .

I avoid driving at highway speeds with the hubs locked and try to avoid even being on pavement. Sometimes heading up the canyon, I lock 'em at the bottom.

I'll check the U joints. The click is actually somewhat subtle as in 'turn off the radio' and listen.

Once again, this forum to the rescue!!
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Old 02-22-2019, 03:36 PM   #8
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dirtanddogfur - Good read on this thread! Glad you started it. I'm old school and was taught many, many, many years ago "4-wheel on, hub lock on - 4-wheel off, hub lock off"... Never had a reason to question it. Odd also that all the people I've had with me over the years, and all the other vehicles I've ever been offroad in, nobody did it any differently.
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Old 02-22-2019, 07:32 PM   #9
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Speaking of locked hubs, a cautionary tale:

A couple of years ago my wife and I were returning from the back country in Anza-Borrego headed west toward the coast on a winding mountain road to Julian. When we made a sharp turn part way up, the van assumed a will of its own, and swerved strongly toward the side of the road. What the hell?! I drove on, listening to a newly arrived clicking sound, figuring I’d have to do some checking things out once we got home. Another sharp turn, again a strong swerve toward a steep drop-off on the right, managed to straighten out the steering wheel, but it was fighting me. Now I’m getting concerned, and slowed down quite a bit. Wife is insisting we turn around, get off the mountain; me – I’m for carefully continuing on, meanwhile quietly pondering the long drive ahead. So we continue, with traffic backing up behind. Did it a third time, at which point I very slowly made our way over to a turnout and stopped. Wife says call a tow truck. And I’m thinking, it only does this on sharp turns, and only to the right.

Then it hit me. When we aired back up once we had reached pavement, I had allowed myself to get distracted and forgot to unlock the left front hub after undoing the right side.

Moral of the story, be mindful always; and have the hubs either locked (based on the comments) or unlocked, but set them both the same.

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