Vehicles that all wheel drive don't have to be off-road vehicles these days. City cars and SUVs also have all-wheel drive, depending on the model and manufacturer. In some vehicles with all-wheel drive, this drive variant can be switched on electrically or manually. A freewheel hub creates a switchover option. It is possible to switch between a so-called frictional connection of the vehicle front wheels with the drive shaft and a decoupling of the vehicle front wheels with the drive shaft. The latter is called freewheeling. The all-wheel drive can be switched on either manually or automatically. Connection is not possible in the unlocked position.
What are the advantages of a freewheel hub?
A freewheel hub offers the option of switching off or activating the all-wheel drive. If all-wheel drive is not required, decoupling the front wheels leads to reduced fuel consumption. It also reduces wear on tires, differentials and cardan shafts. At the same time, the drive noise is reduced.
How are they differentiated?
A distinction is made between automatic and manual freewheel hubs. In addition to the variants mentioned, the dual-function hub should also be mentioned, which is installed in the Nissan Patrol, for example. The dual function hub has the switch positions AUTO and LOCK in the Patrol. This means that interested tuners can operate the Patrol with both a manual and an automatic freewheel hub. Apart from the Nissan Patrol, the vehicles are usually automatic or a manual freewheel hub installed. With the manual freewheel hub, you have to switch between FREE and LOCK. The manual hub is considered to be particularly reliable, but difficult to use. Because the driver has to get out of the vehicle to choose between FREE and LOCK. The hubs must always have the same switch position. Manual freewheel hubs are useful for maneuvering (with a trailer), for example. The all-wheel drive is not required when maneuvering and the decoupled front axle prevents tension in the drive train. This means that the turning circle does not have to be increased due to driveline tension. The manual freewheel hub means that the clutch is particularly gentle on the clutch.
more comfort: automatic freewheel hub
An automatic freewheel hub is always required when operation is to be comfortable. The automatic freewheel hub is often less durable than the manual version. It is also considered to be less reliable in challenging terrain. An automatic freewheel hub locks when the wheel is stationary and the drive shaft is rotating. In the opposite state, the freewheel hub opens. When driving backwards, the drive shaft is unlocked; when driving forward, however, it is switched on. The direction of travel is often changed off-road, and in unfavorable moments it can happen that the hub pops out and the vehicle does not have all-wheel drive.
Manual freewheel hub makes sense in the field!
If the all-wheel drive is to be used mainly off-road, manual freewheel hubs make more sense. They can be used more reliably off-road than automatic freewheel hubs. While automatic freewheel hubs can lead to the car getting stuck off-road because the hub pops out, a manual freewheel hub provides the necessary permanent all-wheel drive in difficult terrain. However, it should be possible to use a manual freewheel hub. If you drive a vehicle with switchable all-wheel drive and want to go off-road, you should inquire beforehand about the best possible operation of the freewheel hub.
Retrofitting manual or electric freewheel hubs?
For example, if a vehicle has built-in automatic freewheel hubs, retrofitting with manual freewheel hubs can be done using the plug-and-play method. The reverse is a little more difficult, since electrical supply lines, any pneumatics / hydraulics etc. have to be retrofitted in order to be able to operate the hubs using switches. But that too can be implemented with a certain amount of effort. It is much more difficult to retrofit an electric or manual freewheel hub if the vehicle does not generally have all-wheel drive. Then an all-wheel drive would have to be created by means of an additional cardan shaft, differentials, etc. A conversion in this way is also "possible" but in 99% of all cases uneconomical and disproportionate.
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