Auto locker up front?

Joined
Sep 27, 2018
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Colorado Springs
So I’ve got an 80 series and I’ve been reallllly wanting to run a front locker but seriously can’t afford even an E locker (also heard the headaches they tend to cause) for at least another year or two because everything is so damn expensive. I know that an auto locker in the front tends to be frowned upon but just how bad is it? I do drive in snow and having that extra front wheel pulling me along would be a great help. But having the manual hubs I feel like would help negate some of the main problems. I’ve been running one in the rear for around 2 years now and haven’t had a single problem.
 
Joined
Jan 19, 2005
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South west utah
A downfall and safety issue with lockers that is rarley mentioned is the fact that lockers will pull you down slope in slippery off camber situations.

Imagine driving up a dougway road that slopes towards a cliff or steep hill. If it is muddy, snowy, or slick than lockers will pull your rig downhill towards the cliff/hill. Usually roads like this slope towards the ditch side but every now and than some roads will slope in the pucker direction.

This is scary and it's also a big reason to go for selectible lockers.

But I only had this problem twice in 5 years running an auto locker in the rear of my old cruiser. One of the times a completey stock grand cherokee made it up the snowy hill and I couldn't because my rear end kept sliding off the road towards a sketchy cliff because of my rear autolocker.

Other than those two times I loved the autolocker in the rear.

Also if you have a part time rig than you can in a sense turn the front auto locker off.

Depending on your uses and driving style than maybe you should go for it.

Or maybe just save up a while longer and throw a selectable locker in the front.

Either way life goes on.
 
Joined
Sep 27, 2018
Messages
80
Location
Colorado Springs
A downfall and safety issue with lockers that is rarley mentioned is the fact that lockers will pull you down slope in slippery off camber situations.

Imagine driving up a dougway road that slopes towards a cliff or steep hill. If it is muddy, snowy, or slick than lockers will pull your rig downhill towards the cliff/hill. Usually roads like this slope towards the ditch side but every now and than some roads will slope in the pucker direction.

This is scary and it's also a big reason to go for selectible lockers.

But I only had this problem twice in 5 years running an auto locker in the rear of my old cruiser. One of the times a completey stock grand cherokee made it up the snowy hill and I couldn't because my rear end kept sliding off the road towards a sketchy cliff because of my rear autolocker.

Other than those two times I loved the autolocker in the rear.

Also if you have a part time rig than you can in a sense turn the front auto locker off.

Depending on your uses and driving style than maybe you should go for it.

Or maybe just save up a while longer and throw a selectable locker in the front.

Either way life goes on.
So I am almost always in 2WD and like you said being able to disable it is huge, I’ve had many obstacles I’ve run on that would have been much less of a problem if I had a front locker. I figure with the fairly low price I could easily stick it in for a year or two to get me by and then when I can afford an air locker jump on that. I didn’t realize that whole dragging you down the camber on stuff, I haven’t noticed it too much myself but I have had the rear end kick out of me a few times due to my rear auto locker but I’m used to driving in s*** conditions so I can control those situations.
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2021
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Germany
When the front differential is locked your rig drives only straight on, no matter what .... I would prefer to decide by myself, when to engage and disengage the front differential lock .... imagine, what will happen, when you hit a small patch of ice before a turn ... the automatic front locker engages and you go straight on ... that would be an involuntary off road trip ;)

Regards ... Simon
 
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LUGOFF, SC
They aren't steering you wrong. A locked front end in slippery off camber conditions is terrifying.

I grew up hauling firewood up old horse drawn logging roads dug into the sides of the hills in the Finger Lakes region of NY. Gooey grey/green clay over crumbling shale with a layer of wet leaves thrown on top. Our haul rig was an IH Scout II locked into 4x4 with chains all round. That mother would go ANYWHERE you had the balls to take it, except off camber. Twice, the only thing keeping us from rolling that pig 100+ft down into a gully was the trees we slid into on the down hill side. Then the fun begins, trying to get that thing back on the trail with com-a-longs, block and tackle, long cut poles and pry bars, a couple street trucks from the top... Dad wouldn't get a winch.
 
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So the idea is a part time truck with manual hubs? IMO this is the best possible scenario for an auto locker in the front, but still far from good. I wouldn't want to run a trail hopping out at every obstacle to lock hub, then getting out after the obstacle to unlock so you can continue driving along the trail. And when you do drive in the snow on the road it will be hairy.

I would save up and do a selectable locker next year.
 
Joined
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Olathe, KS, USA
Unless you go part time t-case and locking hubs, do NOT do an auto locker in the front.

What has been said is correct. I used to drive a 69 Chevy 4x4 with limited slip F/R, locking hubs, 4 speed, and 375 HP.

When in 4WD, hubs locked in, all 4 wheels turn the same. When I was in greasy mud I could NOT turn a corner. I had to burp the throttle to rock the truck and create articulation in order to turn. This would be the same on wet rocks. I had an incident on 100% ice covered roads that as I came downhill into a joined 4 lane road, fortunately, there was no traffic, because my momentum carried me into a slight right turn and I continued to pirouette a full 360 just due to rotational forces and I did it about 35 MPH and about 1/4 miles. It was a beautiful thing, but I was fortunate that no one else was there and I didn't hit anything. I tried locking the brakes, I locked the brakes, then put it in reverse, and dumped the clutch to almost WOT the get the tires spinning backwards, all trying to make it do something, all to no avail. Eventually, I came to a stop, then I gently started again ang idled my way to the next corner. I then placed it into 2WD when I came to a corner so I could steer.

As I've gotten much older and a little wiser, since I have the opportunity to do it all again, except this time with a Land Cruiser, I will go selectable locker in both front and rear. It gives me the best of all worlds and I can turn them on or off when I want. I could still do PT T-Case and locking hubs if I wanted, but I really like the highway stability the AWD gives during daily driving. I will choose an electric locker so I don't have all the other added hardware of an air tank and solenoids and all that.

Buy once, cry once.

That was a different beast, but I could pull a loaded dump truck or semi with that truck. It had low enough gears and enough HP that if I could get the traction, it could do amazing things. My LC is a much better vehicle, but my needs have changed. I no longer need to pull farm wagons to and from the grain elevator 35 miles each way. Oh, it also got 14 MPG on the open highway on a carbureted engine. 12 MPG whether I was pulling a trailer or working it hard. My LC gets 11.5 and only has 190 HP or whatever it is.
 
Joined
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Colorado Springs
So the idea is a part time truck with manual hubs? IMO this is the best possible scenario for an auto locker in the front, but still far from good. I wouldn't want to run a trail hopping out at every obstacle to lock hub, then getting out after the obstacle to unlock so you can continue driving along the trail. And when you do drive in the snow on the road it will be hairy.

I would save up and do a selectable locker next year.
So I already have the full mania hubs and selectable 2WD/4wd t Case mod, that’s really the only reason I’d feel comfortable with an auto locker up front. I have a buddy with a TJ on 35’s and an auto locker up front with full time hubs and he rarely has problems on ice, snow, off camber or mud, but he may be the exception to the norm and that’s why I’m asking here too. I do enjoy doing snow recoveries and last thing I want is to get stuck myself.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Unless you go part time t-case and locking hubs, do NOT do an auto locker in the front.

What has been said is correct. I used to drive a 69 Chevy 4x4 with limited slip F/R, locking hubs, 4 speed, and 375 HP.

When in 4WD, hubs locked in, all 4 wheels turn the same. When I was in greasy mud I could NOT turn a corner. I had to burp the throttle to rock the truck and create articulation in order to turn. This would be the same on wet rocks. I had an incident on 100% ice covered roads that as I came downhill into a joined 4 lane road, fortunately, there was no traffic, because my momentum carried me into a slight right turn and I continued to pirouette a full 360 just due to rotational forces and I did it about 35 MPH and about 1/4 miles. It was a beautiful thing, but I was fortunate that no one else was there and I didn't hit anything. I tried locking the brakes, I locked the brakes, then put it in reverse, and dumped the clutch to almost WOT the get the tires spinning backwards, all trying to make it do something, all to no avail. Eventually, I came to a stop, then I gently started again ang idled my way to the next corner. I then placed it into 2WD when I came to a corner so I could steer.

As I've gotten much older and a little wiser, since I have the opportunity to do it all again, except this time with a Land Cruiser, I will go selectable locker in both front and rear. It gives me the best of all worlds and I can turn them on or off when I want. I could still do PT T-Case and locking hubs if I wanted, but I really like the highway stability the AWD gives during daily driving. I will choose an electric locker so I don't have all the other added hardware of an air tank and solenoids and all that.

Buy once, cry once.

That was a different beast, but I could pull a loaded dump truck or semi with that truck. It had low enough gears and enough HP that if I could get the traction, it could do amazing things. My LC is a much better vehicle, but my needs have changed. I no longer need to pull farm wagons to and from the grain elevator 35 miles each way. Oh, it also got 14 MPG on the open highway on a carbureted engine. 12 MPG whether I was pulling a trailer or working it hard. My LC gets 11.5 and only has 190 HP or whatever it is.
So I do have a selectable 2WD/4wd t Case in my cruiser, fully disengages the front driveshaft,that’s the only reason I feel it may be ok with an auto locker up front
 
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OC, CA
I had autolockers F and R on my 40 for many years and besides the great traction the most noticeable issue was hard steering in tight corners on high traction surfaces because of the lack of a center differential to split the different ring gear speeds F&R in tight turns on high traction surfaces. With a center differential, this problem disappears. Autolockers are better than selectable spools ( like E-lockers, ARBs, etc) on off camber situations because unless the drive wheel loses traction, one wheel is ratcheting. For selectable spools, both tires turn the same speed all the time.
 
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I do enjoy doing snow recoveries and last thing I want is to get stuck myself.
Sounds like your doing a lot of snow driving.

Instead of doing autolockers and waiting a few years to save and upgrade to a selectable locker just save for another year or two and start with a selectable locker. You will save money in the long run.
 
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Sounds like your doing a lot of snow driving.

Instead of doing autolockers and waiting a few years to save and upgrade to a selectable locker just save for another year or two and start with a selectable locker. You will save money in the long run.
So I could easily afford an auto locker right now and could continue to save up for a selectable, and unfortunately the front range of Colorado doesn’t get a ton of snow so I’ll be driving in bad conditions like that for maybe 20 days a year, and with the selectable 2WD/4wd I figure I won’t have all the crazy problems that full time gives you
 
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I would only suggest an auto-locker up front if you don't have ice or snow in the winter and are running part-time with the ABS fuse pulled. I'd even go so far as to say that you probably wouldn't even want it off-road if you're in more of a Moab-type environment and less of a dunes/mud/loose rocks environment.

I converted to part time and installed a front Lokka auto-locker.

Driving on roads with the front hubs locked and the transfer case unlocked, it was loud and unpleasant pulling into gas stations and parking lots. Loud enough that it would freak out passengers and likely get you concerned questions from bystanders.

If you have ABS and don't pull the fuse, then your ABS will only function with the front hubs locked and the transfer case unlocked. If you drive like this, you'll find that the ABS freaks out if you try to turn while applying the brakes (e.g. pulling into a parking lot).

With the hubs and the transfer case locked, the vehicle really, really wants to go straight. If I recall correctly, this behavior changes significantly depending on whether you're accelerating, coasting, or decelerating.

You might think you could drive with the transfer case locked and only one hub locked. I tried this for fun. Talk about torque-steer. I don't mean "too much power in a FWD sedan" torque steer, I mean "lurch into the oncoming lane the moment you touch the gas pedal" torque steer.

I'm still in an area with wet, occasionally snowy and icy winters, so I took the front locker out.

I will admit that *maybe* you could achieve better behavior by fine-tuning the spring force in a Lokka-style auto-locker, but that's above my pay grade.
 
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I would only suggest an auto-locker up front if you don't have ice or snow in the winter and are running part-time with the ABS fuse pulled. I'd even go so far as to say that you probably wouldn't even want it off-road if you're in more of a Moab-type environment and less of a dunes/mud/loose rocks environment.

I converted to part time and installed a front Lokka auto-locker.

Driving on roads with the front hubs locked and the transfer case unlocked, it was loud and unpleasant pulling into gas stations and parking lots. Loud enough that it would freak out passengers and likely get you concerned questions from bystanders.

If you have ABS and don't pull the fuse, then your ABS will only function with the front hubs locked and the transfer case unlocked. If you drive like this, you'll find that the ABS freaks out if you try to turn while applying the brakes (e.g. pulling into a parking lot).

With the hubs and the transfer case locked, the vehicle really, really wants to go straight. If I recall correctly, this behavior changes significantly depending on whether you're accelerating, coasting, or decelerating.

You might think you could drive with the transfer case locked and only one hub locked. I tried this for fun. Talk about torque-steer. I don't mean "too much power in a FWD sedan" torque steer, I mean "lurch into the oncoming lane the moment you touch the gas pedal" torque steer.

I'm still in an area with wet, occasionally snowy and icy winters, so I took the front locker out.

I will admit that *maybe* you could achieve better behavior by fine-tuning the spring force in a Lokka-style auto-locker, but that's above my pay grade.
Interesting, that was one of my biggest concerns was with the Hubs locked will I be getting constant slamming when going around corners, I already have a rear auto so I’m used to clicking for sure. I’m in Colorado so I get a mix of super loose and super grippy rock stuff, mostly what I was thinking is to help push over those giant rock ledges that hang you up on the front axles because your tire touching doesn’t end up being the one that spins in an unlocked rig
 
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I’m in Colorado so I get a mix of super loose and super grippy rock stuff, mostly what I was thinking is to help push over those giant rock ledges that hang you up on the front axles because your tire touching doesn’t end up being the one that spins in an unlocked rig

Personally, I would save up for a front electric locker.
 

LandLocked93

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While not easy for sure, I've gotten my locked front to turn lock to lock.
But only needed to do so twice. In the snow, in reverse. Up an embankment to turn around.
So, yes you can get some response on a locked front.
But it is rightly frowned upon, and I didn't enjoy having to do it either.
Can't imagine having a front axle that would lock on its own recognizance. (auto-locker)
Non-starter imo.
 

landtank

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I’ve got Kaiser lockers front a rear and really enjoy them. They are an auto lockers that biases the drive according to wheel rotation.

Outstanding traction with excellent maneuvering ability with no drive line binding.

I originally PT’d by t-case but have since gone back to a full time setup.

Just have selectable hubs now.

Amazing setup and if I build another truck for myself it will have this setup.
 

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