97 F350 Auto 4x4 Hub Problem - Ford Powerstroke Diesel Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 02-10-2011, 05:37 PM Thread Starter
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97 F350 Auto 4x4 Hub Problem

I have a 1997 F350 with auto locking hubs and the 4wd has never worked since I purchased the vehicle back in April of last year. This has become a major problem, since we have had ice/snow storms back to back all winter this year.

I was told that all that it needed was to probably pull the auto hub apart and regrease it, because the grease gets old and cakes into the hub so badly that it won't engage. Therefore, this week I did exactly that, I pulled the hubs into pieces cleaned them thoroughly and then regreased them. However, in this process, I noted that one of the pieces in the hub appeared to have abnormal amounts of wear. I have been calling it a cam, but I'm not sure if that is the proper terminology since I cannot find a parts breakdown anywhere for this particular hub.

The way that I understand the hub works, this "cam" is rotating all the time when the hub is not locked and then when the front axle starts rotating, it will push this "cam" backwards and thus locking the hub. If you know ANYTHING about these hubs, please look at the attached pictures and let me know if this is abnormal wear. I can't imagine that the teeth on this gear would be unsupported like this. I believe that this cam is so badly worn that the when it moves backwards, it will not push the gear below it into place. I can make them lock by hand by pushing on it hard, but feels like the gears are only barely grabbing. Could this particular part be my problem?

Also, what are my options? I know that 90% of the people I talk to will recommend chunking the auto hubs and going with a set of Warn manual hubs. I may very well do that, but are there any other cheaper alternatives? I've also heard the suggestions of finding some auto hubs at a junk yard and pulling the parts out of them (hoping they are in better shape...). Any other ideas?

Thanks for any advice,

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post #2 of 6 Old 03-02-2011, 12:38 PM
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I too had a problem with my 97 F350 auto hubs. One of them got water inside (probobly before I bought the truck) and rusted, destroyed one side of the auto locking hubs. I replaced them with manuals ($400). The other side however was in great shape...well greased. I looked everywhere to find replacement parts with no luck (Ford, internet). I still have all the parts from the conversion...if you are interested maybe we can work something out.
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post #3 of 6 Old 03-04-2011, 02:21 PM
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my .02...i think youd want to pull the hub assy off repack your bearings and clean out the inside of that hub before all them metal shavings get inside your wheel bearings....that could turn into an expensive problem
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post #4 of 6 Old 03-05-2011, 10:46 AM
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My hubs on my 97 250 went out over the summer and I replaced them with warn manuals. Superwinch makes a set for our trucks and they are a little cheaper if you want to go that route. I agree with powerstroker1488 that you could try and re-pack everthing and see how it works out. As for the wear of the gear it looks like there is some pretty good wear on the face of the gear but I cant really say for sure because I pulled the autos out and didnt really look at them. If there is wear in there I would be careful about them cause the small half moon shaped key in there and if it breaks there is nothing to prevent the spindle nuts from backing off and then you'll lose your tire. That's what happened to mine. The part of the key that goes in the slot on the spindle broke off and the spindle nuts were three threads from coming off before I was able to get stopped. Very scary.

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post #5 of 6 Old 04-12-2011, 06:27 AM
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I too had to do the Warn replacement deal...

I used the less expensive Warn Standards, instead of the spendier ones, only difference I could determine was the use of plastic for the part you actually turn to lock-unlock...I would have gotten the other ones, but thats all they had, and I needed them NOW, as the 5er was stuck inna sand wash ...don't ask....*SIGH* .....

straight forward change out, pull the old ones off, toss over right shoulder, clean gunk outta hub, do NOT grease the new ones, they come pre-greased ....install them /Per the included instructions (very good instructions) be sure to check the "In-Out clearance" ... mine had plenty, NO adapter needed, just the hubs....and away ya go... quit foolin' with those auto hubs, they are JUNK.

and if you want all the parts in your front end drivetrain to keep working, I suggest you get that thing into 4 wheel drive for about 15 miles a month ( on dirt or gravel road, not pavement ) this will warm up the u-joints etc and lubricate them...... now you have an excuse to go to the brush

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post #6 of 6 Old 05-08-2011, 06:38 PM
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I have never had or heard of a positive "Auto-locking" 4x4 experience with Ford factory hubs. there's a reason super dutys still have lock out and the smaller f-150 type hubs still have several reputable problems. my uncle's 2005 f150 this past summer had his front right hub engage at 60mph!!! obviously not such a common problem. nevertheless, upgrading to Warn lockouts eliminates for plastic components in the hub and overall have a longer life span than auto locks. hope this helps. good luck

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