THE BENEFITS OF MANUAL LOCKING HUBS
On last year’s inaugural 4WD Touring Kimberley Tagalong Tour I was lucky enough to meet a heap of awesome people. With time up our sleeve we got chatting about a number of things.
I got talking to Wolf after the trip. He asked my thoughts of fitting manual locking hubs to the front of his Isuzu MU-X. And six months later, here I am fitting them for him.
The biggest compliment you can get is working on someone pride and joy, and that goes double when they travel from NSW to Victoria to get the work done.
Manual locking hubs can be a great idea. The MU-X is a rear wheel drive and when you lock in 4WD the front wheels come in to play. It’s only when you lock it into 4WD that it locks through the transfer case.
With the genuine automatic locking hubs they can engage the front wheels and will end up causing the front differential, tail shaft and axels to turn. This can cause excessive wear, and add to fuel consumption.
Now, on some models, the automatic locking hubs will not be engaged as the torque of driving the wheels is what engages the auto locking hubs. (I just stuck my head under Carlisle’s Isuzu and drove it forwards and the drive shafts are definitely turning when the vehicle is in 2WD.)
Some 4WDers actually prefer manual locking hubs for their reliability. Fitting of manual hubs means they are either locked in or not.
In Wolf’s case he was looking to save wear and tear on his vehicle’s driveline. With the auto hubs the front drive shafts were turning. This means that the front differential would be turning and some of the gears inside the transfer case would also be turning. Even with the transfer case in neutral there are still gears turning when the vehicle is in motion.
Fitting the locking hubs was a fairly easy job. It took us just over an hour and everything fell into place. We choose to go with the reliable Aisin brand.
After we fitted the manual locking hubs we can 100% confirm the only part that’ s turning when the hubs are set to ‘free wheel’ is the front wheel bearings. The drive shafts are completely disengaged which means the differential and transfer case is also not turning.
A few days after fitting the hubs to the MU-X I spoke with Wolf. He has reported that on the drive back to NSW the overall feel of the vehicle is much the same but he has noticed a slight improvement in fuel consumption.
He also now feels better that only the wheel bearings are turning and he is saving wear on the vehicle. He will be locking them in now and then to help circulate the oil around but he is definitely much happier.
I have asked him to keep the factory hubs, as spares for when he goes on big trips.
5. We have fitted up the Aisin manual locking hub into position.