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Ford 250 and 4 wheel drive question

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  • Ford 250 and 4 wheel drive question

    Hey all

    I decided to ship my horse to an indoor today but got my truck and trailer stuck going up the barns snow covered driveway. I have a 1999 Ford SuperDuty 250 with 4 wheel drive. It has a dial on the dash that I can switch to 4 high or 4 low. Did that and nothing happened. Then I remembered when I got stuck in Maryland awhile back I had to lock in the front wheels too. Got out of the truck, tried to lock the front wheels but still stuck. Finally had a tractor pull me out. Anyway, after unhitching the trailer, I played around with the hubs and finally they clicked in but I think that is because I was backing up? Anyway, what is the deal with 4 wheel drive on these trucks? Can anyone give me just the low down on what to? Problably didn't help that I have not used the 4 wheel drive in several years. Anyway, any tips to prevent this from happening again?

  • #2
    The switch on the dash will not do anything for you unless the hubs are locked.

    Lock them and leave them locked.

    No doubt you will get 50 posts saying that I am wrong, but I drove a '99 F350 357,000 with the hubs locked and I have 62,000 on an '08 with the hubs locked.

    When you do that, all you have to do when the rears slip is to move the switch on the dash.



    • #3
      Sounds like typical Ford ESOF problems. Personally I would replace the hubs with straight manual hubs, take a look at this guys write-up here.
      Nearly all of what I post will be controversial to someone. Believe nothing you read on a chat room, research for yourself and LEARN.
      Not in the 42% or the 96%


      • #4
        Some 4WD do not need the hubs locked to work, but even those work BETTER in 4WD if you lock them.

        You should use/lock the 4WD at least twice a year if you expect them to work when needed. My dealer on my 1993 model recommended disassembly and lubing periodically, particularly if used in mud/water. I'm not sure I buy that, but that was his rec.

        Sometimes you need to back up to unlock the hubs. I've never heard of backing to lock them - but they are spring loaded, so if something (like, a buildup of mud or......?) is preventing them from locking, backing may have helped you.

        IMO, you'll get significantly higher rates of wear and higher fuel consumption if you leave the hubs locked.


        • #5
          If you have the "dash button" your truck is shift on the fly, and the beauty of that is that yes it will put you in 4wd and you don't HAVE to slog around in the mud locking hubs unless you are anticipating being in 4wd longer than a few minutes or a couple of miles.
          My truck is an 02 F250 PSD 4x4 and that's how mine is.
          The newer trucks you don't have to back up to disengage the 4wd, but my older truck you did (the 99 and the 97). The newer trucks you also don't want to go around with the hubs locked all the time, per the Ford people,so it also depends on what year your truck is.
          If you put in 4L, you have to put the truck in neutral to get it out.
          But as others said, you have to use the 4wd periodically to keep things working.
          "Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is their willingness to permit them to make a camping ground of the bed" -Henry T. Merwin


          • #6
            I have a 99 F250 too - one of the mighty 7.3 L powerstroke diesels, really an awesome truck.

            Mine has the shifter on the floor (and the locking hubs.) The 4WD does work without locking the hubs but as Sec. noted, it works *better* when they are locked. I haven't found it's a big deal to get them to lock/unlock, but I do use the 4WD fairly frequently, at least during the winter around here, and in the spring when we have serious mud at times.

            When the weather warrants, I've left the truck with the hubs locked and used the 4WD for days or even a few weeks at a time, but in addition to the wear/fuel consumption, it does impact the ease with which you can navigate tight turns so I don't leave it on all the time. I've never had to back up to unlock them, though.
            We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


            • #7
              I believe you will find that if the hubs are in auto and you are already stuck, the hubs will not lock when using the dash switch. Something to do with the wheels have to turn for them to automatically lock.

              So if you get stuck and you don't think the front wheels are engaged, get out and put them in manual lock.

              That is why I leave mine locked. If you have a trailer hooked up and get get on a slick spot, and it only takes a little wet grass, getting out is a pain.

              As for wearing them out, as I said 357,000 on my '99 and I replaced one hub.

              Now if I were one of those Marlboro Cowboys that never got off the city streets, I would put the hubs in auto.



              • Original Poster

                Thanks for the tips! I was wondering if by keeping the hubs locked it would do damage to the truck but as someone already said, problably more towards my wallet with gas consumption. Also when I got stuck my friend told me that my front wheels were not moving while my left rear wheel was spinning on the snow. I guess I didn't have it locked in even after I thought I did. Lesson learned and now I know. Thanks!


                • #9
                  Well down to the facts.

                  The book for the '08 recommends to run in auto for fuel savings.

                  It does not mention excess wear.

                  But here is what could have been your problem.

                  The Ford manual says that at speeds less than 1 MPH, the front wheels may not lock. It says may not. I have tested mine and they do lock before I move.

                  You could also have one of three maintenance problems.

                  Without cranking the engine, turn the starter key to the run position. That is, the position the key returns to after starting. Do this without starting.

                  Now rotate the button on the instrument panel that engages the front wheels.

                  You should hear a click. That click tells you that the transfer case shifted into gear.

                  If the wheels still do not turn, then you possibly could have a leak in the vacuum system as the front wheels are locked when in auto lock by the vacuum system through rubber hoses.

                  You can check the hoses by disconnecting them from the hubs to see if they are sucking.

                  If they are not, either the leak is further up the hose or the pump needs replacing.

                  Lastly, if you have a bad hub, neither wheel with turn. This can be determined by putting the hub locks in manual. They should turn if both hubs are good.

                  If you are going to use auto, you should shift just before you get to a slick spot.

                  Last edited by cssutton; Feb. 15, 2010, 04:32 PM. Reason: Inserted instruction to rotate button


                  • #10
                    I have the 250 2001 diesel. The hubs have been the bain of my existance with this truck. I finally replaced the auto hubs (you don't have to lock manually) with the manual ones. First they would disengage at whim, causing me to float all over the road. I replaced the autos TWICE and then gave up.

                    From experience you probably could not move the manual lock because they had not been used in some time and were too difficult to move by hand. Or you had the problem posted above. If you got them to work eventually, don't count on doing it just on the fly anymore without having them thoroughly checked.

                    And at some point you'll probably be better off having the manual hub system anyhow.

                    Now can we talk about Ford Brakes? I have some stories on that issue for sure.



                    • #11
                      My farm truck is a 2001 F-250 with the 4wd on the floor and locking hubs. In the winter, with all the mud/snow, I keep the hubs locked in case I have to switch into 4wd quickly. The only ill effect I have seen is a decrease in gas milage (which pretty much sucks no matter what).
                      Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
                      My equine soulmate
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                      • #12
                        We have a 1997 F250 4x4. The stick is on the floor but were told to put
                        the transmission in park or neutral before shifting into 4W. We did have them
                        go out once while under warranty and dealer wanted to change them to manual but climbing out in deep snow did not sound like a good idea.

                        Our Expedition 4x4 has a dial on the dash. For 4 All Wheel drive, you can switch
                        while moving under 45 mph. For 4L or 4H, stop, put in park or neutral, then select 4L or 4H.

                        We have a 2006 Dodge Ram 4x4, supposedly shift on the fly but someone at the dealers recommended the stop, park or neutral, switch and go routine anyway. He thought the shift on the fly would lead to problems far quicker.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by BasqueMom View Post
                          We have a 1997 F250 4x4. The stick is on the floor but were told to put
                          the transmission in park or neutral before shifting into 4W. We did have them
                          go out once while under warranty and dealer wanted to change them to manual but climbing out in deep snow did not sound like a good idea.

                          Our Expedition 4x4 has a dial on the dash. For 4 All Wheel drive, you can switch
                          while moving under 45 mph. For 4L or 4H, stop, put in park or neutral, then select 4L or 4H.

                          We have a 2006 Dodge Ram 4x4, supposedly shift on the fly but someone at the dealers recommended the stop, park or neutral, switch and go routine anyway. He thought the shift on the fly would lead to problems far quicker.

                          Never heard of issues with the Dodge and shift on the fly, the transfer case on my dodge lasted 250k with regular use, and the only reason it failed was because i let it run dry on fluid.

                          my old jeep had the same brand/manufacturer transfer case as the dodge and it was shift on the fly, worked exact same way as the dodge and it had 200k with no problems and i ran that thing HARD in 4wd. (keep in mind this is for 4Hi, for 4Lo you should be slowing down to under 5mph, transmission in neutral then shift to 4lo then go on your way)


                          • #14
                            On the 4x4 topic. I have a 2000 Ford Excursion and would like to know which wheels are drive wheels when the 4x4 is locked in low Please ? I have been told only the front drivers side and rear passenger side. I find this hard to understand. Please help.Thank you .


                            • #15
                              Grizz, you have somehow found a 9 year old might get more answers starting a new one with a more specific title...
                              The big man -- my lost prince

                              The little brother, now my main man


                              • #16
                                asterix This person has a thread on this already in off topic.

                                Four wheel drive now comes in so many iterations that half of what I know no longer applies. Open differentials allow all the power to go to the tire with the least resistance. There is a thing called limited slip differential or positraction that sends at least some power to the resisting tire, most newer cars have this. Ford had what was called positraction and I recall being told it favored a particular side if traction was lost. Google will explain better than I can, though for your specific model some old guy at the ford dealership may recall the answer to your question.

                                If you wish to have the same amount of force on each wheel there is a thing called a locking differential, which will cause more wear on tires and some issues making turns at speed. Usually the die hard rock climbing 4 wheelers are using the locking diff., where both the back wheels turn at the same speed regardless if they have traction or not.
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