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4x4 "hops" When wheel spins

Old 07-11-2018
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Houghton, MI
Posts: 5
4x4 "hops" When wheel spins

My 1997 ford ranger 4x4 with a 4.0 and automatic trans. Shakes and hops somewhat when I am in 4 wheel drive and the front left tire spins. Its a concern of mine because I live in northern mi. Has anyone heard of this happening? All 3 U joints are new and in good shape, has done this for the past 100k miles I have owned it
Old 07-12-2018
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Roanoke, VA
Posts: 303
What kind of surface were you on when this happened?
Old 07-12-2018
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Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 11,338
All 4 tires must be EXACTLY the same size when using 4 wheel drive

On dry hard surfaces in 4WD the front wheels will hop or skip when turning

4WD is not AWD, in AWD vehicles the front wheels only get 30% of the power, so don't do the hop or skip
4WD is 50/50, even split, when turning, all 4 wheels are turning at a different speed, and that difference shows up as a hop or skip on dry hard surfaces, on gravel or dirt you can still feel it somewhat, but not much.

Front axle is an OPEN differential, this means the easiest wheel to turn gets ALL the power, most cars and 2WD pickups have this in the rear axle which is why they get stuck.

Most 4x4s have Limited slip in the rear axle so both rear wheels get power evenly, but they have OPEN in the front, so 1 front wheel can spin if it losses traction

Make sure both front hubs are Locked when 4WD is selected, the "auto" hubs are not all that reliable after 20 years, many switch to Manual hubs for reliability.
You can leave the manual hubs Locked all winter and switch from 2WD to 4WD "on the fly" same as usual, doesn't hurt anything.
2001 and up Rangers have full time locked front wheels, called Live Axle, because of the problems over the years with "auto" hubs

Last edited by RonD; 07-12-2018 at 11:50 PM.
Old 07-14-2018
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Houghton, MI
Posts: 5
It happens on snow because that's about the only time I use it besides in deeper mud or rough roads. But usually it won't spin or anything and always hooks up well in mud. and all tires are the same size, brand, and depth.
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