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Old 07-07-2011, 07:25 PM
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Confused about locking hubs

Thanks for helping me understand locking hubs. I don't own a jeep yet. I'm asking questions so I understand what to look for when I make my purchase.

To start off, yes, I have ran through the many pages that a search of this forum provides. Most folks debate the aftermarket items, welding, etc...

Looking at the specs online for a 2003 Wrangler Sport, SE, or X, etc... they all say automatic locking hubs. If that's really what it means, then why does the Rubicon (the higher end model) come with ARB (Air locking hubs)?

Looking online, I see I can buy a ARB kit for a jeep that is not a Rubicon. I *think* I'd rather spend the $800 for the kit than an extra 2k on the purchase of a Rubicon, plus I have more selection. Are these parts easy to install? I have a fair amount of mechanical knowledge, but not with 4WD.


I'm not interested in rock climbing. I live in MD, so it's either snow or mud. Love to get out there with the gang that hits the parks out in western MD, but that's a different story.

Thanks for any help you can provide.
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Old 07-07-2011, 07:55 PM   #2
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TJs do not use any type of locking hub. I don't know what your seeing.

Rubicons have air lockers, but they are not ARB.

You seem a bit confused on what the difference between a locking hub and differential is.

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Old 07-08-2011, 12:14 AM   #4
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Locking hubs: On older 4wd vehicles you had to get out and manually turn a disc in the center of the axle in order to "lock in" your front wheels. If you drove into a mudhole without doing this, and you shifted your 4wd stick into still wouldnt have 4wd until you got out and turned the knobs (discs?).

Lockers: ARB or any other locker is a device inside your chunk that "locks" the front or rear axles. "Locking" the axle means that BOTH front or BOTH rear wheels turn together no matter what. This makes a jeep very hard to turn because the wheels are pulling or pushing in the same direction at the same speed. Arguably: a jeep with the front and rear LOCKED would go straight unless the wheels were able to skid on pavement to allow a turn.

What is confusing you is the expression "locking in" your hubs. Locking your hubs and locking your axles are two distinct operations with different consequences.

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Old 07-08-2011, 01:17 AM   #5

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Newer jeeps have the axle shafts splined (grooves) to the rotors. All of parts are turning in the even in 2wd.


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Old 07-08-2011, 04:25 AM
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Thanks everyone, greatly appreciate the education! So, why have Air Lockers on a Rubicon?

@CapnDean- you have my understanding. I'm used to getting out of the truck and turning the lock at the hub. I was confusing this action with what the Air Lock does on a Rubicon, and where this capability might be on the lesser model TJ's.

So, when putting the vehicle in 4WH or 4WL, the hubs are automatically locked.
The Air Locks will lock the shaft so that both wheels spin at the same controlled rate.

My interest is that I don't get hung up with one wheel on either axle just spinning. It the right wheel spins, I want the left to pull me out of whatever it is I"m up to my hubs in.

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