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Old 10-23-2011, 11:40 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Convert auto locking hubs to manual

Good morning.

I recently acquired a 1994 suzuki sidekick jx 4wd, 5 speed manual. It has auto locking hubs on it. I would like to convert them to manually locking hubs. I've read posts saying that I need to buy manual hubs and a conversion kit. Others say the kit is not necessary. Since you folks are the pros, I thought that I'd ask you directly. What do I need to do the conversion?

Thanks much,
Uncle Chan

Last edited by Uncle Chan; 10-23-2011 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 10-23-2011, 01:08 PM   #2 (permalink)
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No kit necessary. Make sure that your hubs are not engaged (not locked) and just 6 bolts to remove them off the axle. If you are lucky you can find OEM Aisin manual hubs off a junked Tracker or Sidekick - fairly easy to clean up. New manual hubs can be expensive - Warn, Superwinch, Aisin, etc.
Anyway, just unscrew the old, and screw on the new. Make sure the manual hubs are made for your car - spline count can be different for different cars.
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Old 10-23-2011, 02:06 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bex View Post
No kit necessary. Make sure that your hubs are not engaged (not locked) and just 6 bolts to remove them off the axle. If you are lucky you can find OEM Aisin manual hubs off a junked Tracker or Sidekick - fairly easy to clean up. New manual hubs can be expensive - Warn, Superwinch, Aisin, etc.
Anyway, just unscrew the old, and screw on the new. Make sure the manual hubs are made for your car - spline count can be different for different cars.
Thank you much, Bex. That is what I was hoping!
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Old 10-23-2011, 08:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I've been thinking about getting some auto hubs for my tracker. What are the pros and cons? Should I swap them back to manual to tow it behind my RV?
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Old 10-23-2011, 11:39 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Here ya go. Don't know for sure but I'm told auto locking hubs don't work in reverse

Geo Tracker Warn Locking Hubs
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Old 10-24-2011, 01:28 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stillwater View Post
Here ya go. Don't know for sure but I'm told auto locking hubs don't work in reverse

Geo Tracker Warn Locking Hubs
The auto hubs do indeed work in reverse and that is the bone of contention, in order to work the drive shaft has to rotate in the hub and spin a cog on a ramp system, each time the shaft changes direction it must de-ramp and ramp in the opposite, this causes lots of movement causing wear and breakage when to OP gets inpatient and hammers it to get unstuck.... over greasing also causes headaches as the resistance when cold causes the cog to bind and refuse to ramp, leaving the hub in N.... Philip
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Old 10-24-2011, 06:32 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Personally, I would not want the auto hubs. Granted, somewhat 'easier' as you do not have to get out of the car to engage them. But you do have to move about 10 feet in a direction opposite of the way you were previously going, in order to engage them (and to disengage them), and sometimes this is not possible. Also, they are very difficult to repair if something goes wrong with them. Yes, it is a PIA to actually have to get out of the truck and walk 2 feet to the front wheels, turn that locking mechanism, then go to the other tire (God, I'm exhausted by this point!) turn THAT locking mechanism, and then try to make it back to the driver's door in one piece, without a pitstop for food and water....However, the manual hubs are stronger, easier to repair, easier to service, last longer, no plastic pieces inside of them, easier to know if they are locked or not, easier to know if there is a problem with them not locking, etc., etc., etc., So, IMHO, I would stick with the manual hubs.
And service them now, just before winter when you need them.....
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Old 10-24-2011, 06:44 AM   #8 (permalink)
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If you purchase the OEM Aisin manual hubs from a junkyard or second party, make sure to get the cone washers/bushings.
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Old 10-24-2011, 08:17 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bex View Post
But you do have to move about 10 feet in a direction opposite of the way you were previously going, in order to engage them (and to disengage them), and sometimes this is not possible.
I have auto locking hubs and all I do is stop, throw the selector into 4wd and continue in that direction. No need for going the opposite way to lock them.

For instance I was going up a steep hill with lots of grass cuttings and bush on it from a neighbor trimming up his land. I started to slip and couldn't keep forward momentum. I stopped, selector in N, xfr in 4wd and applied throttle with my foot slowly coming off the brake. There was a little slippage and a little thunk as it engaged the front hubs and I went up the hill.

I always reverse or drive (depending on the direction I was going before) out of 4wd for safe measure. But I have noticed that the 4wd light goes off even before I do that.

Also as with most vehicles down here my hubs have never ever been serviced. They are fine. Also I have never heard anyone say that their hubs have been giving issues and they are almost strictly automatic locking hubs when it comes to the Vitara/Escudo/Sidekick and these are the most common vehicles on the roads. Those Nissan X-trails and anything with electronic/automatic selecting 4wd have 4wd failure at 20,000 miles in these parts. Which shows the severity of conditions and abuse and lack of maintenance these vehicles get.

The hubs are definitely not a soft spot.

All that said. Manual locking hubs are better. You know for sure that they are engaged when you engage them. And you don't need to actually stop the vehicle to select 4wd with them engaged and can deselect 4wd on the fly as well.
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Old 10-24-2011, 01:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Scudo, yeah, you're right, to engage the hubs, you just put the car in 4wd and drive forward slowly for them to lock. However, to disengage them, you have to stop your car and drive about 10 feet in the direction opposite to the way you were going. Frankly, the 4wd light will go out as soon as you take the transfer case out of 4wd. Meaning that the light can be off, and your front hubs still locked. Maybe the Escudo is different? Unlikely, but the above directions are straight out of the owners manual.
Maybe the 4wd hubs like baking in the sun?? Dunno, but there are tons of posts here and on the internet of hubs needing grease and servicing. I do mine every autumn.
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'61 NSU Quickly - 150mpg
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