I am assuming your truck doesn't have front manual locking hubs,since most of the 1/2 ton class of trucks made today buy the most popular manufactures-Ford,Chevy,GMC,Dodge Etc... do not have Manual locking front hubs to engage your front axles like in the past older versions of 4x4 trucks.Some of the larger rated 4x4 trucks 2500,F250 Etc...and up can still use manual locking hubs.This Explains Manual front locking hubs-they are just like it says-you personally have to manually go to the front axle hub and turn the selector from the free position to the lock position 4x4 then when you are driving you select 4 wheel drive from your cab usually a selector lever or push button then the front wheels are given power by the transfer case-which is 4 wheel drive.
With the new series of 4x4 trucks they do not have manually locking hubs on the front axles no more.They are direct coupled to the front drive axles which go into the front differential housing then routed to the front drive shaft then to the transfer case. Your front axles and differential,front drive shaft turns when your truck is in motion frontwards or in reverse its a constant.You have control to engage your truck in 4 wheel drive by your selector usually a button you push on your dash or a manual lever coming up from the floor.So when you assume your in 2 wheel drive the only wheels with power is the rear which is correct BUT the front wheels and its connecting partners are still turning even though they are just rotating freely for the ride.
Otherwise with MANUAL LOCKING hubs you could push your button or pull your lever to engage your 4 wheel drive and the dash light 4x4 indicator may be on but the rear wheels will only have power --unless you stop your truck and manually go and turn the manual locking hub to the lock position on your front axles. The down side people may have with the inconvience of manual locking hubs you have to get out and turn them in yourself when the weather may be worsening or turn them in and let then in at your leisure,The up side is when they are set to FREE--the only thing turning is just your wheels and tires-the axles and front differential and the front drive shaft DOSEN'T turn-which can save you fuel,wear and tear on these critical componets,less maintenance on the componets of your front end.The down side of having the front axles and differential and drive shaft it does rob you of some fuel mileage and it does wear these componets out faster.The UP side is when you need 4 wheel drive all you do is push your button or pull your manual lever and you have it.Hope you find this helpful--God Bless.
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