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Why Do Ford Trucks Have Locking Hubs?

Why Do Ford Trucks Have Locking Hubs?

Locking hubs are an essential part of the four-wheel-drive Ford trucks that can disengage the front side wheels from the axle and rotate them individually. You can lock the hubs while anticipating the potential to use the 4WD. 

Why Do Ford Trucks Have Locking Hubs? Ford trucks have locking hubs to control the axle, prevent damage to drivetrain components, and improve fuel economy. Also, they facilitate disconnection from the drivetrain, control over the driveline, and better locking in 2WD and 4WD. Furthermore, old Ford models and fewer latest super duty models have manual lock hubs with minimum technical issues. The newer variants of the Ford F150 have an automatic fly switch to control the locking hubs. 

The locked hubs never damage the driving conditions while the front-drive model remains disengaged for a short time.

In addition, monitor the gas mileage and wear-tear of your drivetrain components for long trips.

They come in pairs with an average size of around 12x6x5 inches and a weight of 8 pounds to 10 pounds. 

Axle control

The four-wheel-drive trucks need more control over the axle and their tires. 

In addition, a shift from 4WD to 2WD facilitates the split of the axle into two parts. 

The right half works separately from the left side. The locking hubs are like a circular disc on the outside of tires. 

But, they handle and control the axle by engaging and disengaging. It happens according to the input signals and road conditions. 

You can lock it in two-wheel drive mode and disengages the axle. 

But, in auto-locking hubs, there is no need to lock manually or unlock the disc.

Use switch or relevant buttons to split the axle for separate performances. 

Prevention of truck wear and tear

A proposed advantage of the locking hubs is that they prevent the wearing and tearing of the front axle, shafts, and front tires on a pickup truck. 

The front tires engage with the rear wheels in a four-wheel-drive without them.

The excessive pressure and pulling force damage the physical appearance of tires. 

It happens because the components of the front axels are weaker than the rear parts. 

Moreover, the front tires take part in turns and challenging driving conditions. 

The disconnection of back and front wheels protects the pickup truck and wheel drive components. 

The intact locking hubs can protect the front two tires and axle shafts. 

They consist of aluminum that is easily breakable during off-road driving conditions.

Cleaning and protection of these components are essential. 

In their intact condition, they can protect the pickup truck from sudden damages and unnecessary tire tearing. 

Improved fuel economy

The auto-locking hubs have a quick switching ability, but it has significant disadvantages like drivetrain wearing and driveshaft damage.

Due to auto controls, the four wheels drive never disconnects entirely. 

The truck differential, axles, and driveshaft work in a two-wheel-drive constantly. It produces extra tearing and wearing on the pickup truck. 

As a result, the fuel economy of the vehicle decreases drastically. But, the manual warn locking hubs are effective for reducing fuel consumption. 

They provide a significant disconnection of the front drivetrain from the front wheels.

Moreover, it immediately reduces the damage to the truck drivetrain. 

The fuel economy improves automatically because the pickup truck uses less fuel with minimum wheel dragging. 

Moreover, the disengagement of the front wheels removes friction and increases fuel economy as a mile per gallon. 

During an unlocked condition, the front parts of the drivetrain have fewer rotations and consume low fuel levels. 

Disconnection from drivetrain

Switching the wheel drive to a manual four-wheel-drive hub disconnects the front wheels from the drivetrain.

The road conditions compel the driver to disconnect the front side wheels from the truck axle. 

In this way, the rear wheels rotate to move the pickup truck on the roads.

The front side pulls the vehicle on challenging roads, and driving becomes smooth on challenging turns. 

Control over the driveline

A driveline of a pickup truck consists of wheels, driveshaft, joints, differentials, and axles. 

The combination of these components controls the force of the entire pickup truck. 

The driveline obtains power from the truck transmission and engine compartment. 

Also, it sends the energy to the wheels of a vehicle for appropriate rotation and stable performance. 

The locking hubs control the driveline and its component due to physical handling.

You can change and modify them according to your requirements in a few minutes. 

Better locking

Off-road drivers and driving enthusiasts prefer manual control over their pickup trucks.

Moreover, the manual locking hubs involve mechanical input, and you can shift it in around 5 to 7 minutes. 

The involvement of physical effort confirms that there is no loosening of wheel drive and axle. 

Moreover, the drivetrain locks in one mode with appropriate fixation.

The physical detachment of wheels from the front axles rotates them individually for a required time. 

They are efficient for selecting the 4WD and 2WD according to the road conditions, fuel levels, turning points, and driveshaft conditions. 

What is the locking hub, and where is it located?

A locking hub is a freewheeling hub that fits in four-wheel-drive vehicles. It facilitates the free movement of front tires by disengaging them from the axle. 

They have a manually locking and unlocking ability.

Moreover, auto-lock hubs are also available, but they are less efficient than manual equipment. 

During a 4WD, all hubs engage with the axles, and front and rear wheels rotate accordingly.

A switch to 2WD disconnects the axles and wheels. 

The front tires rotate individually in random directions with a significant performance at challenging turning spots. 

They are present on the outer side of the front wheels on 4WD vehicles. 

How does a locking hub work?

The rotational disc can move in locking and unlocking positions.

You can disconnect the front wheels from their axle by putting the hubs in an un-lock position. 

The back wheels remain intact and connected with their axle and avoid rotation.

In this way, you can spin and drive the front wheels in any direction. 

They consume less fuel with minimum damages. The truck steering wheel controls the movement of the front tires. 

Moreover, you cannot put your pickup truck in a 4WD mode during unlocked conditions.

What Ford trucks have locking hubs?

Ford truck models with years

Type of locking hub

1995 to 2002 Ford F150


2003 to 2005 Ford F150


2006 to 2010 Ford F150

Automatic /vacuum

2011 to 2022 Ford F150


1995 & 1996 Ford F250


1997 Ford F250 (power stroke)


1999 to 2004 Ford F350


2006 to 2010 Ford F250 super duty


2011 to 2020 Ford F250

Auto (optional manual)

1981 to 1995 Ford F350

Manual & auto

1996 & 1997 Ford F350


1998 to 2003 Ford F350

Warn manual hubs

2004 to 2018 Ford F350

Auto (with optional manual hubs)

Do new Ford models have manual locking hubs?

The new Ford models do not have manual locking hubs. Instead, the manufacturers install an automatic switch that does not require physical help. 

A few newer trucks have an operational manual hub system. It works as a backup because automatic systems are prone to several damages.

Older Ford F150, F250, and F350 models have only manual locking hubs. 

Is there any disadvantage of locking hubs on Ford trucks?

You have to get outside the pickup truck to alter its position, and it is one of the most significant disadvantages of manual hubs.

It frustrates the driver during long-distance traveling and off-road conditions. You cannot leave it in an unlocked position for multiple hours because of a four-wheeler because you have to drive it in a 4WD at some point. 

Frequent driving and excessive use lead to hubs tearing. Also, they require numerous replacements due to damages of manufacturing material. 

The automatic lock hubs are disadvantageous because the electric system fails without notification.

The drivetrain locks in one position, and you cannot disengage it without physical help.

Also, they do not disengage the wheels and axles and resulting in a challenging driving condition. 

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