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Re: Problems with front free wheeling hub
Have you checked the wheel bearing(s)? It would be under a cap that protects the front hub. There would be 5 or 6 small bolts that hold it in place. Repacking with grease might help but replacement would be best. It might also be worth your while to check the axle nuts and the brake rotors.
Hope this be of initial help/idea. Pls post back how things turned up or should you need additional information.
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You don't say, Front or rear wheel drive. First check oil level, On rear wheel drive check the thrower plate on the tail shaft at the diff end is not bent and rubbing on the seal, A dry oil seal can make this noise.so can the U/Joints. on front wheel drive , check the cv joints , dry oil seals , the drive shaft inner cv joints have a thrower plate that may be bent. worn or binding brakes can make this noise also.
the freewheeling hubs work when the axle is driving by transfereing the drive to the hubs from the axle. If you remove the hubs and the noise goes I suggest the problem is not in the hubs but in the cv joint just inside the hub. When you engage the F/Wheel hubs you are loading up these cv joints and if they are worn then that is when you will get the noise
The two symptoms you posted may or may not be related. I'd check the driveshaft and axle joints for any looseness or binding. (do this with the rear wheels hanging free in neutral, front wheels blocked) The chattering may be an axle joint or the posi unit in the differential. Most times replacing the diff lube, (using posi additive) then making tight left and right circles will free the clutch packs. Difficult to diagnose noises online. If you have any problems finding the source, have an experienced tech look at it,,,You still have the option of actually doing the work itself.
Alot of people are having this problem. A locked 4x4 while turning on a dry or wet surface will do this, unless it is snow or mud which allow the wheels to slip the front wheels bind and buck,clunk. Now if this is not the case then check the CV joints, jack front wheels off ground, one at a time is fine, grab wheel and wiggle all around and see if tire feels loose as it might be a bad wheel bearing hub also. I don't believe there is anything wrong with the ,transfercase. I have owned 4x4s for 31 yrs ranging from 1967 - 2003, mostly chevy (gmc) ford, and 1 dodge ram. 9 out of 10 times it is front hubs,pinion,front driveshaft. Transfercases either work or they don't,and if they don't its because it's broke and your not driving.
check front axle shafts cv joints one might be bad. also if you turn on a dry surface when 4x4 engaged it will bind and make noise. Jack front of truck up and try to wiggle wheel up,down all around as you may also have a bad wheel hub bearing that is clunking when turning.
Is the front driveshaft turning but the wheels are not? or is the noise coming from the transfer case and the front driveshaft is stationary. If the driveshaft is not turning the problem is inside the transfer case. If the driveshaft turns, remove the front differential cover and make sure the gears are not damaged. Before doing that though, If the boots on the axles are torn, chances are that the c/v joints (one or both) have failed. The front diff is an "open type" which means that the wheel with the least amount of traction will receive all the power. If a joint fails there is no "traction": at that wheel so the opposite one will not turn as well. You will see the axle turning but the wheel will remain stationary. If joint has failed, most times it's faster and easier (and not much more $ to buy a complete rebuilt axle). Chilton or haynes manual outlines r&r...not terribly difficult job but if you have any questions about any of it just ask!
sounds like you have a bearing going out in the hub. The reason it stops making noise with 4 wheel engaged is having the truck in 4 wheel drives puts power to the front hub. Which gives it more stability. In other words you have power which helps bind and hold the bearings from more extensive travel then with it disengaged. The other possibility is you have a ball joint going out. If you are capable of inspection on these to possibilities you will need to jack it up and inspect ball joints for movement and look for abnormal up and down movement of the hub. If not take your truck in and get the front end inspected at a brake or an alignment shop.