When driving around town in winter, is it okay to leave the manual hubs locked on my 4WD Tacoma and shift in and out of 4WD as needed? Or is it better for the truck to just stay in 4WD?
If there is no foreseeable need for 4WD unlock them. If you anticipate ice any time during the day lock them. Just remember that it is imperative that you shift out of 4WD as you exit the ice. In 4WD anything other than straight ahead crushes the drive train.
If I’m driving snow packed roads all day, I’ll leave the hubs locked with the transfer case in 4WD. If it will be mixed snow and clear roads, I’ll leave the hubs locked and shift in and out of 4WD as needed. If I’ll be driving on plowed highways, I’ll unlock the hubs and shift into 2WD. Automatic hubs on my Trooper made this a piece of cake.
When driving down a slick, steep, icy grade, disengage the 4WD, let your rear wheels (and engine compression) control your speed. Having the front axle engaged can create some exciting handling. Trust me, I know.
I’ve had friends who would set the hubs at the beginning of the winter and leave in. When I had a Tacoma with manual hubs, I did what the manual said; set them if you anticipate using 4wd for the period of time you are driving and shift in and out out 4wd as needed. Never leave this part time system in 4wd all of the time if you drive on bare roads. At speeds greater than 35 mph I disengaged part time system too even in snow and just used 2wd. At higher speeds, the 50/50 lock of part time system creates handling problems…the biggest reason they can loose control at higher speeds on slippery roads and end up in the ditch. It’s a low speed, off road system to be used only as needed in slippery, lower speed applications. So, forget the truck, it’s safer for YOU not to leave it in all of the time…believe the manual
What does the owner’s manual say?
In this weather you can not know nor predict your need for 4x4. especially when melt-off freezes over night or in the shadows.
Leave the hubs locked in. ( saved my butt on my 80 Bronco )
Shift in or out of 4x4 when needed.
Your manual may even state not to drive on dry pavement in 4x4.
A manual transfer case generally does not have front/back differential and you’ll be scrubbing tires or ( worse case scenario ) doing internal transfer case damage.
Most of the time the U joints or CV joints in the front drivetrain are the going to break before the transfer case dose.
If you think you may need the 4WD, lock the hubs before you leave. Unlock them when you don’t think you will need the 4WD. Also keep in mind that the 4WD system in your Tacoma is strictly an off-road system. You use it when you are stuck to get unstuck. It is not intended to be used to enable you to holeshot away from a stop sign or traffic light, leaving the FWD cars eating your dust, snow, and exhaust fumes. Driving with your hubs locked won’t affect much, but will allow you to use the 4WD when you need it without having to get out, dig for your front wheels, and lock them rather than simply being able to shift to 4WD without doing all those extra steps.
I agree with everything “mark9207” says.
Just to throw another topic out there; a truck with a part time 4wd system probably needs added weight in the back as much as a 2wd truck in the winter. This will allow you better handling characteristics as many 4wd trucks have worse front to rear weight bias than their 2wd counter parts with the added differential. Always kept 300 plus lbs in back of my older Tacoma and needed to use 4wd much less over the road. When I did, the handling(and ride) was much better too. 4wd Tacos are buckboards w/o weight.