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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all..... I have a problem The front wheels are not locking in. I have manual locking hubs.And auto trans. And the truck is a 97. The 4x4 light comes on.... But its not working. I called Ford and the guy said to look for a black solenoid by the front axle. He said it had 2 screws holding it in and a plug.I can't see anything like that. Anyone have any ideas what he was talking about and where it really is.

Thanks for any help... And hey if you have another idea on what it could be making it not work let me know.... Again Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I guess I should have said The 4x4 was working...It went out 2 months ago. As I said The lights say its working but they are not ( FOR SURE NOT WORKING )
Any incite on this?
Thank you
 

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Aimless Wanderer
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I guess I should have said The 4x4 was working...It went out 2 months ago. As I said The lights say its working but they are not ( FOR SURE NOT WORKING )
Any incite on this?
Thank you
The solenoid on the front axle is a servo. It slides a clutch to allow the front differential to drive the front axles. If this is not working, the hubs will not be driven. These used to be terrible about reliability, (IMO) as they get all kinds of road splash and mud cake if used off road.

If you have indicator lamps on the dash or console telling you the 4X4 is engaged, the transfer case is working, (apparently) but the front differential is not engaged. This solenoid/servo will be bolted to the front axle housing about centerline of the truck on the top. Make certain you have voltage to the plug before you replace parts. If you have voltage reaching the unit, ensure it's mounting brackets are supplying a ground for the case. Not all of them used the chassis as ground so electrically ensure you have a ground also. If you have voltage, and a good ground, remove the unit from the axle and try to slide the fork by hand this unit engages with. It should move very easily. If it doesn't either something is binding, or bent inside the axle housing or differential case. If the apparatus slides easily, you have voltage, you have a good ground, then replace the solenoid/servo unit with new.

Not all of these were plastic; some had a metal body dependent on year. If the case is impact damaged, swollen, or smells any kind of burnt, change it.

I can't remember is this unit was fuse protected or not as I've not worked on one in quite some time. If you don't have voltage, look for either some type of electrical protection blown, (fuse, circuit breaker) or the enable switch itself. The rotary and slide action switches using in vehicles are troublesome as they age.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
4x4 not working

OK update here. I looked and looked for The solenoid on the front axle. There is nothing there. Does anyone have a picture of where and what this looks like? I do a google look and what they show in back on the trans.
THANK YOU for any and ALL help.
 

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Aimless Wanderer
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You stated the truck is a 1997. Is it the then new body style 1/2 ton, or older style 3/4 ton? Does it have a solid beam axle, or IFS?

The differential is on the left, (driver's side) of the truck, and the servo motor should be just to the right, (passenger side) of the axle tube on top.

Give this a try also. If your 4X4 is electrically activated; with the key in the "on" position but engine not running, engage the front axle. With the front hubs in the free position, (not engaged) try to turn the front driveshaft. It should not turn as the transfer case should have engaged the front drive. If it will not turn, disengage the front axle and try to turn the driveshaft again. If it now spins, the transfer case is working. Now spin the shaft and look at the front drive axles at the wheel ends to ascertain if they are moving with the driveshaft. If yes, the drive axle is trying to pull the truck. Now lock the hubs and try to spin the shaft again. If it still spins, the hubs are not working.

Some of the 1/2 ton trucks had the electric engagement solenoid on the axle, some did not so don't be discouraged. If the truck has the original supplied hubs installed, they would be best replaced with Warn aftermarket which contain no plastic.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I am thinking its the older style. It does have a solid beam axle.. Now when I get under the front there is NOTHING on the axle tube. left or right side. The truck has MANUAL locking hubs. There is a line that goes into the Axle bell. I see nothing else.
 

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Aimless Wanderer
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I am thinking its the older style. It does have a solid beam axle.. Now when I get under the front there is NOTHING on the axle tube. left or right side. The truck has MANUAL locking hubs. There is a line that goes into the Axle bell. I see nothing else.
If you have the solid beam axle, there is no solenoid. I suspect you have a hub engagement problem. Try the things with the front driveshaft I've mentioned. Those OEM hubs really were not a good idea, (IMO) as they presented a lot of problems such as you mention from either sticking, (spring loaded) or stripped/fractured internally from portions being plastic.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Well I took pics of what I am seeing but I dont see a place to post. Ford says there is a servo. But I 'll be where it is.
 

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Aimless Wanderer
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97 was a transition year and a lot of things were incorrect in the books. When was the truck built? Is the truck the older square body style, (88-96) or the later style? The tag on either the left door, or door jamb will tell you this in the upper corner.
 

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Aimless Wanderer
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Well looking at the tag . Its says 8/97....I am thinking its the square body style. I just dont understand why there is no picture showing this.
Is truck an F-150, or F-250? F-150 should have been the new body style that late in the 97 model year production.
 

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Aimless Wanderer
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its a F250 auto trans, with Manual locking Hubs.
Now it makes sense. I've been referencing an F-150 all along till you stated a beam type axle. Your problem is most likely a hub engagement issue. Take the allen, or torx screws loose from the hub perimeter and give them a good flush and service; or simply replace them with Warn aftermarket variants and never have the problem again. If your hubs are the Warn OEM supplied, (black and chrome) those are terrible in reliability once they got just a couple of years old. Get the ones that Warn markets that are metal where you place your fingers and you'll be happy you spent the money!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
4x4 not working

Now it makes sense. I've been referencing an F-150 all along till you stated a beam type axle. Your problem is most likely a hub engagement issue. Take the allen, or torx screws loose from the hub perimeter and give them a good flush and service; or simply replace them with Warn aftermarket variants and never have the problem again. If your hubs are the Warn OEM supplied, (black and chrome) those are terrible in reliability once they got just a couple of years old. Get the ones that Warn markets that are metal where you place your fingers and you'll be happy you spent the money!
Ok BUT!!!! what was the ford repair guy talking about? Says there is a solenoid BY the axle. That plugs in. BUT I just dont see this. Any ideas?
 

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Aimless Wanderer
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Ok BUT!!!! what was the ford repair guy talking about? Says there is a solenoid BY the axle. That plugs in. BUT I just dont see this. Any ideas?
There is room for error in his database. I've never seen a solenoid used on a beam axle myself. Only on the IFS types.

I'd run the vin number by another parts man for confirmation. 1997 had lots of room for errors in the database. The vin of the truck is crucial for ordering any type of parts anymore.
 
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