Solid Axle Industries Spyntec Locking Hub Conversion Kit For Jeep Wrangler JK - Stop The SpinPosted in How To: Transmission Drivetrain on July 1, 2009
It used to be that "locking the hubs" was a fundamental first step when heading off-highway. Over the years though, OE manufacturers defected from the lockout hub. Most four-wheel-drive vehicles built nowadays have front axles with internals that spin full-time with the wheels. Blame it partly on cost and partly on vocal buyers who want the convenience and simplicity of just pushing a button or pulling a lever to deliver power to all four wheels without having to lock hubs. Sure, these new systems are easy to use, but here's the thing: in many ways they create far more problems than they solve.
For instance, if your rig breaks an axleshaft, grenades the ring and pinion, or bends a front driveshaft on one of those new axles, there's a good chance you're hosed. Everything will want to turn the same as always, and the result can be an even bigger mess caused by collateral damage as the broken or bent parts flail away. If you can even move your rig at all, that is.
Those non-lockout axles have other quirks, too. They increase wear and tear on driveline components; they increase resistance, which can increase fuel consumption; and they usually have unitized bearings, which are expensive, non-serviceable, and prone to failure.
So what can you do? Well, listen up. That bugle call you hear is the aftermarket cavalry coming to the rescue. In this story, we're going to look at a Solid Axle Industries SpynTec Conversion Kit. We hung out at Attitude Performance in Arlington Heights, Illinois, while owner Matt Dinelli bolted a SpynTec kit on a Jeep Wrangler JK Rubicon. This kit creates a fixed-spindle front axle, which offers the ability to unlock the hubs whenever you want. But that's not all. This kit replaces the troublesome and expensive unitized bearings with more affordable, serviceable bearings; it uses proven 760X axleshaft U-joints; it includes front and rear alloy axleshafts; it changes the bolt pattern from 5-on-5 to 5-on-51/2; it includes beefy Warn Premium hubs; and it includes a spare tire adapter so a spare with the same bolt pattern can be installed. It's also important to note that this kit will not affect the JK's ABS or Electronic Stability Program (ESP). Additionally, the kit fully seals the ABS sensor and tone ring from contaminants both on- and off-highway.
Hey, lockout hubs are good. If you're not convinced, go back, reread the second and third paragraphs, and then picture your rig immobile and your wallet empty from a fat towing bill.
1. Installation begins with the removal of the wheels and tires, brake calipers, rotors, three 12-point bolts (per side) that hold the unitized bearings to the knuckles, and the ABS sensors. The shaft assemblies can then be removed from the axle housing as shown. Set aside the metal dust shields and the 12-point bolts, as they'll be reused.
Don't Have a Jeep, But Still Want Lockout Hubs?
Solid Axle Industries also offers SpynTec Conversion Kits for solid axle-equipped 1994-2008 Dodge fullsize pickups and 1999-2004 Ford pickups.
Lockouts and Towing
If you use your rig to tow, or if you flat-tow your rig, unlocking the front axle via lockouts will help decrease wear and tear on front axle components and decrease overall drag. Will you see an increase in fuel mileage? Probably not a large increase, but hey, every little bit helps.
What Does It Cost?
At the time this story was written, the SpynTec kit for all models had an MSRP of $1,995. Matt Dinelli at Attitude Performance says he charges approximately $336 to install the kit on this application. Other applications will be similar.