Auto Hubs Vs Manual Hubs


As it says in the title which is better for off roading and why?


Both are better for off road use, it depends on what you want or need.

Manual hubs require you to get out of the vehicle and engage them manually, this is fine if you do not mind stopping and getting out and engaging them, then getting out to disengage them after use. Should you forget to disengate them after use, you will get a condition called transmission wind up, basically your transfer case explodes, or you strip all the gears in it. Manual hubs stay positively engaged until manually disengaged.

Auto hubs engage by relative motion; this is as follows. Auto hubs have a centre position, they are held in this position by a spring, when 4 wheel drive is engaged the forward or rearward motion of the driveshafts moves them from this central position and locks them in. When the vehicle stops, or the driveshafts are stationary the spring moves back to the centre position, thus disengaging them.

Auto hubs are easier to use, you can engage four wheel drive and they will engage when the front axle turns, they are slightly more complex, and can suffer from problems. Problems are mainly compaction with dirt, or rust from water ingress, this is mainly due to poor owner maintenance, or poor previous owner maintenance.
Maintaining them is quick and easy, simply remove them once a year and clean out the grease, repack them with fresh grease, ensuring they are full of grease. This prevents rust and water damage, for considerable off road, or lots of wading type usage, increase the maintenance on them, it is prudent to adjust the wheel bearings and repack these at the same time.

It is down to personal choice which you prefer, but at least you are in posession of the facts to allow you to make an informed choice.

i know on my manual hubs, if

i know on my manual hubs, if i have them engaged and in high two wheel drive you can feel the vibrations and the trak aint happy untill i unlock them, the reason i changed mine from auto the manual was my trak is used a lot off road to get me to fishing marks, i have to cross a river and a longish muddy track thats often flooded by the river, the surface of the track changes often as does the climb out on the river, if i have to back out and retry then the autos disengage which is not fun, for the average trak driver that does not use the trak as i do then autos are prob the better option, also i have to climb off a beach, the same applies if i have to take a few attempts at going for the slope to climb off it as the ramp off varies from 3 foot to over ten foot depending on if we have had a storm and the waves have washed the beach away


When you let the clutch out in 4WD the autos will automatically re-engage due the motion of the front driveshafts, thus giving 4WD.

Water and lack of maintenance are the real issue here, if the hubs of either type are not maintained regularly, and the front wheel bearings/hubs packed fully with grease, water will penetrate and corrode them.

Both have pro's and cons, it is up to the individual to be in possession of the facts, and make their own choice. Having both types fitted to two vehicles, my off road is manual, my on road are autos, off roader used mainly in wet sludge, my on roader used mainly in fields and deep water.
neither have given problems as they are all maintained properly.

Auto Hubs ????????

'91 Fourtrak TDX 2.8

Auto hubs seem to lose reliability as they get older,due to wear on the clutch packs and springs. I found even after cleaning and greasing, I could not trust them to engage on demand,you only want one hub to malfucntion to lose all drive to the front axle, ( To many components to go wrong/fail) they let me dowm once to often and have now fitted manuals. Just remenber to egage them BEFORE you may need them and give then a clean and grease once a year. Manuals I trust, would not give a 4XXXX for auto's.

Just alway remenber to disingage 4WD on hard surfaces , no problems with transmision wind up if you leave them engaged, the disimgagement is a fuel and wear on transmision saving,????? mine have completed many miles and weeks of M Way driving after I forgot to unlock them. If I am planning offfroad use they are locked in at the start off the day and they stay in untill I am sure they are no longer required, a day, a week !!!!.

I have the old auto hubs stripped out ready for when I find a decent welder preferbley a coded/profesional to weld the two splined sections together so I could replace my manuals with locked hubs if I ever wished

Just my opinion from my experience.

Edward (ews) '92 Fourtrak 2.8 TDX

In Response

In response to EWS comments about not causing transmission wind up, this is not the case; a condition is known to occur when the front propshaft is turning which caused 4wd to partially engage. This problem is not unique to Fourtraks, it happens to Isuzu Troopers and some Suzuki models, and is attributed to the design and rugged nature of the transfer case.
As this can happen, the safe option is not to drive on the road or solid surfaces with the front hubs engaged, this will prevent the possibility of transmission wind up from occuring.

Curious- fixed hubs

Hi Assassin.

Did the early Fourtraks have a different transfer box, as I my owners manual shows 3 types of hubs, fixed, manual and auto, or was it a result of the transfer box partialy engaging re testing/owner feed backback that the fixed hub was discontinued. I note in your PM re the floating bearing set up and wear on the selector linkage.

I wrote from my own experience, re my Fourtrak and various Series Land Rovers (Fixed Hubs) that i have owned.

Edward (ews) '92 Fourtrak 2.8 TDX


There were four types of hubs, only three were used in European markets to the best of my recollection.
Daihatsu became aware of this problem regarding play and possible partial engagement of four wheel drive, this is why they changed all hubs to auto engaging types. The fourth variant was basically the same hub, but either electrically operated, or air operated.
As you correctly point out in your PM it should not be a problem, but for the bearing/wear issues; and on most vehicles it is not. Fourtrak gearboxes, transfer cases were originally derived from Asian market light trucks, many of these offered a four wheel drive option, due to these markets, durability and longevity are preferred to quiet and smooth operation.

Personally I prefure

Personally I prefure manuals. The main two problems with auto's as I see it are:
1) Auto's dissengage when you change direction (forward / reverse). This, if not handeled well, can couse the front drive train to be spining well when the hubs lock with a bang. Poss the bang of an exploding drive shaft or CV.
2) manual hubs can be locked in once a month on cars that don't see too much 4x4 use. this alowes the lubrication in the front drive chainh to get a stering.
Add to this the fact that auto's do tend to die eisier than manuals, I know which I would chose as an 'off road' fan. I can see how the auto would appeal to someone who is only going to use the 4x4 once in a blue moon to get a stuck horse box out of a field though.

Any veiws expresed in this thread by me are purely from my own experience, and (sometimes) falible memory. Hope my comments help, but please don't take them as gospel.

Any veiws expresed in this thread by me are purely from my own experience, and (sometimes) falible memory. Hope my comments help, but please don't take them as gospel.

Modification Of Auto Hubs

Problems with auto hubs are mainly due to poor maintenance, this is usually insufficient grease which allows in water and sludge, keeping the hubs packed fully with grease cures the problem.
One method i have used for many years is to fit external greasing capabilities to them to prevent this problem from arising.
This entails drilling and tapping the end plate and fitting a removable bung which is removed to allow the fitment of a grease nipple.

1/ Remove the aluminium end cap from the auto hub and centre in a lathe, using a small centre drill, put a pilot hole in the centre of the plate. Open this out to 3.2mm with a drill bit and tap a 4mm thread into it.

2/ Using a small piece of aluminium, turn this in a lathe to 4mm diameter, and a head of 8mm diameter, 4mm thickness. Thread the 4mm section with an M4 thread, and reduce the thread length to the thickness of the end plate.

3/ Using a Dremel or similar tool, cut a slot in the head to accept a screwdriver; the same can be achieved by using a hacksaw fitted with two or three blades, side by side in the saw.

4/ Refit the end plate to the hub, fit a 4mm diameter "O" ring, 1mm thickness to the blanking screw, and fit into the tapped hole.

5/ When the hubs require greasing, remove the blanking plugs and fit a grease nipple with a 4mm thread into each hole, grease each one, periodically turning the wheel to distribute the grease. This will fill the hubs to the maximum capacity and not allow the ingress of water or dirt into the hub.
One thing i have found is to fill the hubs and leave them for 10-15 minutes before removing the nipples, this allows the pressure to fill every void, and expel any moisture or dirt from the hub.
This method will also grease the front wheel bearing at the same time, as they are both open to each other.

Remove the grease nipples and replace the blanking plugs.