Got issues with your Ford F150’s 4×4? I’ve got a couple of workarounds to help you out. I’ll throw in some steps for replacing the actuator too.

Because, let’s face it, a working 4×4 actuator is key for a smooth ride, improving traction and stability in all kinds of driving situations.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

Ford F150 4×4 Actuator Bypassing Process

There are 3 ways to bypass the 4×4 actuator in your F-150:

3 ways of Ford F150 4x4 Actuator Bypassing

1. By Removing the Vacuum Solenoid Hose 

  • Open your Ford F150 hood and find the vacuum solenoid valve.
  • Identify two hoses—one to the IWE side and one to the engine intake side.
  • Locate the hose with the check valve on the engine side.
  • Disconnect both hoses; use pliers if needed.
  • Plug hose ends to prevent debris.
  • Secure the vacuum solenoid valve with plugs or bolts.
  • Start the vehicle to test 4×4; IWE should engage.

2. By Disconnecting Actuator Vacuum Hose

  • Find the IWE Hub Actuator on your Ford F150.
  • Disconnect the larger nozzle’s vacuum hose to disable 4WD.
  • Seal the open ends to block moisture and dirt.
  • Confirm the gears are now locked for 4WD.

Note: Keep in mind that when reconnecting, you need to ensure a clean system.

3. By Using Free Wheel Hubs

  • Lift and secure the vehicle.
  • Remove the IWE hub and hoses.
  • Install free-wheel hubs.
  • Connect hoses to dummy posts.
  • Add a solenoid valve in the engine area.
  • Connect hoses: engine to valve, valve to dummy posts.
  • Secure all connections.
  • Lower and test 4WD engagement.
  • To revert, disconnect hoses and reinstall IWE hub.
  • Regularly check hubs, hoses, and connections.
  • Confirm proper solenoid valve function.

How To Replace 4×4 Actuator F150?

Now, here’s how you can straight-up replace the actuator:

  1. Pry off the center cap and loosen all lug nuts.
  2. Lift the vehicle, place a jack stand, and remove lug nuts.
  3. Choose an approach:
  • For ball joint method:
    • Remove the cotter pin and loosen the castle nut.
    • Separate ball joint and remove it.
  • For control arm method
    • Remove bolts, slide out the control arm.
  1. Free upper control arm bolts and remove outer tie rod end.
  2. Pry off the wheel hub’s dust cap and remove the center nut.
  3. Gently detach the vacuum and vent line on the actuator.
  4. Remove three bolts holding the actuator, pull out the knuckle.
  5. Glide the half shaft out, then remove the actuator.
  6. Install the new actuator and slide in the half shaft.
  7. Torque actuator bolts to 9 ft-lbs.
  8. Re-attach the vacuum and vent line. Install center nut and torque to 20 ft-lbs.
  9. Re-install the dust cap and then tie rod end, torque to 150 ft-lbs, and use a new cotter pin.
  10. Re-install upper ball joint or control arm. For control arm, remember to align.
  11. Put the wheel back, hand-tighten lug nuts.
  12. Lower the vehicle, tighten lug nuts with a tire iron.


When should you consider changing your F150’s 4×4 Actuator?

If engaging or disengaging 4-wheel drive gets tough, you hear strange noises such as Grinding, humming when slowing down or notice inconsistent performance in your F150, that’s when you should think about changing the 4×4 actuator.

Final Thoughts

That’s all you need to do! 

While swapping out the 4×4 actuator might seem a bit daunting, I’d say it’s the way to go. Direct replacement ensures reliability and a long-lasting solution. 

So if your F150’s 4-wheel drive is acting up, invest in a proper replacement. 

Avoid the temptation to bypass, it might seem quick but it could compromise your truck’s overall performance.

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