What do manual locking hubs do? I noticed that my truck comes equipped with them but I have no clue what their function is. Can someone enlighten me? (I could probably read about it in my owner's manual but I'll probably forget by the time I go home tonight!)
Second, when you shift into 4WD is there a light or something that should come on indicating the vehicle is in 4WD. My old F150 Lariat had that, but I don't see it on this truck.
Welcome to the world of manual 4wheelin'. The manual locking hubs do just that - locks the hubs to the front driveshaft. When you are not in 4WD, you want the front wheels to spin free from the front drive shaft or you will be using extra power to drive your truck - worse gas mileage. When you need 4WD, you lock your hubs so that the front driveshaft forces the front wheels to turn, hence 4WD? When you shift into 4WD, the 4x4 indicator should light onto the dash as you assumed, but then again I have a 99 and am not 100% sure about your 2004 - but it should.
If your truck is equipped with electronic-shift-on-the-fly 4wd you have the 4x4 switch on the dashboard. Your hubs will have two positions, "auto" and "lock".
In the "auto" position, the hubs will function just like your F150 did. The hubs are locked in and out automatically when you switch the 4wd control off and on. With the hubs in "auto" the dashboard switch performs 2 functions-it engages/disengages your transfer case AND locks/unlocks the hubs.
In the "lock" position, the hubs are locked in no matter if the 4wd switch is off or on. With the hubs on "lock" the only function the dashboard switch performs is to engage or disengage the transfer case.
The manual "lock" position is basically an override system in case the automatic hub locking system fails (which is not uncommon on all makes of auto-engaging 4wd vehicles). If the dash switch fails to engage the hubs you can get out and turn them in manually to the lock position.
For normal driving just leave them in auto and forget about them. If you keep them locked all the time you will get decreased mpg due to the increased drag on the front axle and also unneccesary wear on the front tires and axle.
If you have the manual 4wd system (the big black non-transmission lever on the floor) you a totally manual 4x4 system and have to lock the hubs in manually each time you want to go 4wd. All the the lever will ever do is engage the transfer case. The hubs are always completely dependant on you turning them in manually.
As far as the 4wd indicator light, my truck has the esof system (switch on dash) and auto locking hubs and it does have a yellow indicator light on the left side of the dash. It has a lighted "4X4" and a "LOW RANGE" depending what range you're in. In 4 low both of them light up.
I checked this morning and the hubs are in the "Auto" setting, but I swear when I engage the ESOF to 4x4 hi there is no light in the gauge cluster to indicate that. I'll double check again tonight. It could be that the light isn't working.
Can you tell if the truck is actually going into 4wd? When my F250 was new, I had to drive a few yards before it would engage. After it broke in it engages sitting still. Alot of guys complain about the reliability of this system but mine's been flawless so far-I have my truck in/out of 4H several times a week and I think using it regularly keeps it in good working order.
Try putting it in 4H in some dry grass or gravel. Stomp the gas and see if your front wheels pull.
Also, you might try putting the hubs in "lock" and see if the light will come on when you flip the ESOF on. If it lights up in "lock" but not in "auto" your front hub actuator is defective.
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