[ALL] Servicing the front axle locking Hubs

My 1989-1998 Front 4wd Locking end axle Hubs dead or making odd noises.

Starting in 1999 (up to 2005), we have an internal ring gear lock actuator and air pump, seen here.

My locking hub caps are stuck, or my locking hubs don’t lock or unlock. My 4wd Test page.
My Hubs are clicking. ( well? ; remove them, and drive and see if they stop clicking, bingo bad lockers. )
There are 4 stock Suzuki hubs and maybe 3 aftermarket, Warn hubs tops that list.
Nothing on this page, is about any Suzuki Samurai, Sammi parts do not FIT any SIDEKICK or Vitara’s, period.
The sammi runs loose bearings. (100% alien to this car)
Suzuki does still sell parts. (here)
Auto locks are great, if you have lots of cash, everytime they puke?, but you don’t like that, cleaning and fixing locking hubs is easy and dirt cheap.
I like the manuals. If you did the service, you know they are locked or not, no wondering about the magic of auto locks. (feels good)
Some Auto lock defy disassembly. (if you can, then you will be a happy camper, unless the plastics die and you lose.)

Suzuki Sidekick’s 1989-2000 ( or Geo Trackers) I will use the Sidekick/Tracker name interchangeably.
This is a 15,000 mile service point and more often, if you ford streams or drive in rain with bad seals in the hub (gasket and o-ring).
How you do this service depends on, if in you live in Key West FL. or Siberia.
The latter, we run dry grease, or the fancy air craft rated greases (your call, your climate, your grease)

Quick Index: JUMP/GO LIST: See my dedicated front wheel bearing page, here.

The spring side, on mine, I took the cap assembly with knob and spring, set it to lock, and then cleaned it in solvent, then blasted it with walnut media. and greased it. (a no dismantle, trick)
The manual hubs all work if cleaned (no rust), and greased, if in Siberia, there are special lubes, I just use marine rated grease, for best water proofing.

NOISE? from the front end.?
( I hear a noise, & feel looseness, shaking,or screeching, noise, clicking, any noises, just remove the locking hub caps and drive.)
Try 2wd, 4H and 4L, all 4wd modes, to isolate noise. and lightly applied brakes can stop bad wheel bearing noise.

See this next drawing this is worst case on any Sidekick front end axles ends. The below shows both old style and new style bearing locks. GM/GEO.
ID 36/39 (old style) and 37/40 found only on GM GEO trackers and only 97-98!
Part 29 is 2WD, manual hubs is ID 18
Drawing #1, 1996-98′: with Geo Queer parts added.

Early 4WD parts. 89-95. Drawing #2



BEGIN: A VIDEO on manual lockers?
If the wheels still have the plastic cubs covering the hub sides, then the wheel needs to come off.
Remove the 6 inner hex head bolts, shown below.

With a center punch mark the rotor, main hub, locking hub base at the free mark.
I do this so all things go back, to the same spot. No guessing and faster.
Photo 1: A 96 Tracker.

Fast Emergency Service:

  • Inspect, clean and lube just the locking part ( Fast service)
  • For faster service in a hurry, stuck off-road?
  • Pull just the out side cap off the manual hub with the 6 “Allen” hex socket screws.
  • Pull the cap outward. in the Unlocked position. (do not force it, if stuck)
  • If it don’t come then you need to pull the whole hub and then pound out the lockers from the inside. (rust happens)
  • If it does come off, then wire brush the dogs, clean it and lightly grease it and put it back where you found it.
  • Bingo, back in action. Check for smooth action, turning the knob, if not, do it again.


Best practice, is to not take the spring side apart. Just remove and separated the 3 parts on the right and clean them, do not attack (dissemble) hub cap/springs unless necessary!
My hub cap dial has an O-ring inside, and hard to find.
See all the hub pieces below:
I cleaned them all with paint thinner.(safe) (a non caustic hot tank works better, these parts are aluminum )
I wire brushed the hub cap dogs (top right) using a rotary wire brush, in a drill motor. (found light rust )
The Snap ring is easy on this hub, to remove. (top center top)
The design is such, it can’t go back together wrong. (main hub/base) But I do have the FREE index marked, onto the main body.
Do not fill them full of grease, only brush on. Filling them invites brake failure.
Use Extreme greases if need be: HERE:
The spline on the axle ends, must not be rusted, clean them and lube them.

96 Tracker, actual photos.
Photo 2:

Hub cap greased with Marine GP grease. (back side)
Photo 3:

Back side of Locking Hub base, greased with a brush all parts inside.
Next is Front side below:
Photo 4:

Front of hub cap (manual locker) greased and ready.
Install gasket and assemble the complete hub as a unit, using the cap bolts and gasket.
The bottom inside of below Cap dog (unlocked view) is a pit, brush on grease,here, too.
Put extra grease at where the spring hits cap knob, which blocks moisture. (cross fingers)
Photo 5:

The LOCKING HUB is now 100% back together.

Mount the locker Hub to the same index mark previously stamped on the main bearing hub ( Free label to center punch mark)
ON All bolts, I used anti-seize lube. (except the 4mm tiny ring lock screws which get Loctite(tm))
When this is done, the job will look like photo 5 above.
Tighten all bolts and screws to spec.
Drive 2 miles or so, and do a panic stop and re-torque the WHEEL LUG BOLTS!
Your ready to WHEEL.


Some people use radial different greases or oils, these people living in extremely cold elements.
GM calls out there special grease, Suzuki calls for poor grade lithium grease, I ignore both.
The above grease marine grease is rated to -40F per ASTM spec. If your hub is cleaned and lubed you should not have any problems.
Almost all fails (common) are due to lack of maintenance, not grease type.


For O-rings on locking axle hubs, look here.
Suzuki still sells the the parts.

Locking hub GREASES! “Lockers” 
Do not pack the wheel bearing hub 100% nor the locker (any section ) full of grease, grease expands when it gets hot and will hit the brake pads and (BAD HAPPENS!)
Do just brush it on. Do read the page 3C8 in the FSM for what it needs, it states, GM 1052750 grease for lockers. (hard to find that grease)

Do not use in the OLD STYLE Cheap Disc brake, rated wheel bearings grease, in the Locker unless the spec. shows ASTM D4693
If the dogs in the locker are all rusty?, no grease works, (duh?) clean off all rust FIRST!

Grease for locking hubs: (if you drive,where it gets real extra cold, say below 0F zero degrees F?)
The best grease is low temperature operation and waterproof for the hub.
The manual lockers, the dial rim likes to leak water into said locker, its a weakness.
I use a marine light GP grease and works perfect. (some just use cheap lithium GP door latch grease)
Autolockers will take even more magic to keep working and even more very cold, I don’t like them.

Meeting cold spec of ASTM D4693 (“-40C and -40F” not a typo!) and 15 Nm or less drag. Read the spec, it’s real.
Note the 15Nm. = 132 inch/lbs or 11 ft/lbs drag. (worst case!, its way LESS at 0F)

Mobil 1 Synthetic Grease (passes D4693 low temp spec)

Find it at Amazon.<<< I recommend this, as its OTC, that is Over The Counter.

Pennzoil red grease 707L Find it here.

AMZOIL synthetic Multi-Purpose Grease, NLGI #0 (GLA)

For the totally Anal retentive? or perfectionists? (0.5Nm drag, wow!) starting drag, (turn the locker dial and it turns at -54c?)
Mobil Aviation Grease SHC 100 
Mobilgrease 33 (GOOD ENOUGH FOR BOING AirCraft it is.)

Low Temp. Torque at -54ºC (-65ºF), Nm (g-cm) ASTM D 1478

Not so great, a dry lube, when water gets inside, but you have to do what you must. (more service in the extreme climates)
If in Siberia, do not use grease at all in the hub, use E&L DRY SPRAY on lube. Ask any gun store for this. They know!

Real Mercury thermometers freezes at -37.89 F so, when that happens, you need a special grease. or dry lube.

If you don’t ford steams and service the hubs each fall, you can use any cheap spray or light lithium grease.
CRC makes that and is sold in Walfart. YMMV or Your Climate Can Vary… YCCV?

You can just swap locking and automatic hubs all you want, but on GM/GEO Tracker 97 and 98, it takes GM kit. (has the funny lock rings holding bearings on)
See here the kit for making up your own 97+ tracker bearing lock nut down grade kit, if you hubs interfere with these hub parts.
Or you just hate the GM way.


Next 98 CAMI built Sidekick Sport or The ones that came on the ’95 JDM Escudo (By EZZIE ) THANKS!
Style 2 Auto 1

Style 2 Auto 2

Style 2 Auto 3

Style 2 are so much easier to clean than Style 1.

Starting in 1999 to 2005 Vitara or Grand Vitara, or Chevy Trackers no more locking hubs, this newer system locks up the whole axle via an air acuator next to the ring gear (inside)
I cover the tests in the 1999 sections seen here.

Timken, Loctite, NAPA are all private companies and are not associated with me or am I paid to recommend their products.
This document is just a journal of my repairs. Nothing more or less.

Best place for asking questions is FixKick forum.

2 thoughts on “[ALL] Servicing the front axle locking Hubs”

  1. I am trying to put older model hubs on a 1998 tracker and you mention the downgrade kit and link to build your own but the link simply reloads this page, Can you still help?

    Specifically, See here the kit for making up your own 97+ tracker bearing lock nut down grade kit, if you hubs interfere with these hub parts.
    Or you just hate the GM way.

  2. no hate me.
    what ever is more easy to find parts wise.
    i just like the suzuki real ones best ,


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