Change background image

Why would anyone want to fit an ARB air locker?

Discussion in 'Differentials' started by mattyboii, Jul 6, 2012.

  1. mattyboii

    mattyboii New Member

    Well where do i start?
    I guess firstly this is to all those sheep out there who have been brainwashed by the advertising of ARB promoting how good their air lockers are supposed to be.
    I do not deny the fact that initially the air lockers do work as intended but sadly only for a short period of time.
    After working in the mechanics industry for over 10 years and have seen what happens to the lockers and the damage that they cause the vehicle.
    I personally would never purchase an ARB air locker.
    I know there are a lot of you out there who are saying well why not and if not then what else can i run?
    Firstly there are various lockers out there that are designed for different applications and all have their pro's and cons to a degree.
    To understand completely you must look at how they work and what they do to make them work. look for design faults that could cause other problems.
    If you are one of these brand driven people then by all means pay for the brand name and get a locker.
    If you don't know what sort of locker to get and are driven by flash advertising by big brand advertising then please take the time to read on about the things ARB do NOT tell you about their products.

    The main reason i personally do not like the Air locker is simply because of the design limitations.
    I mean seriously - who would put 100+ psi of compressed air into their diff housing?
    You'd have to be nuts!
    The ARB air locker relies on 2x O-ring like seals to provide air pressure to the internal locking piston. unfortunately there must be air pressure present at all times the locker is to be engaged and these 2x thin little o-rings wear regardless you have the locker engaged or not!
    The O-rings do the same number of km's as your hub seal would. Now ask your self how many times have you had to replace a leaking, dry or cracked hub seal? Further more, would you trust a hub seal to withstand 100+ psi of compressed air that has done a few km? That is what you would be asking your ARB air locker seals to do when its done a few Km's.
    The diff housing does have a diff breather tube that is capable of venting slight pressure changes due to expansion and contraction from heat but unfortunately are not designed to cope with 100+psi of air being passed through them.
    Further more, what happens if your breather gets blocked with mud or dirt? The air pressure has to go somewhere and unfortunately tends to pick the next easiest point of escape - an axle seal, diff pinion seal or hub seal. I have seen several seals 'pushed' out of their housing as a result of a blocked breather and a failed ARB air locker seal.
    So after running your diff dry all the way back to civilisation where you can organise for your vehicle to be towed back to the closest available mechanic to get your seal popped back in and then a further more expensive job later on when you get back home to repair the leaking air locker seal. You ask your self why did i go down this path and choose this air locker?
    One would think that a flimsy O-ring like seal wouldn't cost to much to replace and even a pair of them sitting in a housing couldn't be all that bad right? WRONG!
    As a mechanic doing the repair work for a poor customer who had just this problem found out first hand why not to buy an ARB air locker.
    The Diff center containing the locker was removed and the seal housing containing the 2x O-rings was disassembled to expose the failed seals. ARB Penrith (Our most local franchisee) was called to chase up the replacement seals.
    After three whole days of being given the "oh i haven't had a chance to look the part up for you yet - give me a call back in a couple of hours" and after calling back as requested was also given the "do you have the model number for that particular model air locker" since there is nothing at all inscribed on the locker itself there is no way of knowing even what model the locker is other than just going off measurements and dimensions and isolating it down to a little over a dozen with all the same dimensions.
    On Day four was told by ARB Penrith's Manager to come down and to bring a sample of the seal housing and the seals as to match the replacements up.
    I drove half an hour out there from the workshop to arrive at the Penrith branch where i met the bloke who i had been on the phone with for the last 4 days. Warren. He took the seals and housing and walked out the back and was told to wait around while he matched up the replacement parts. 3/4 of an hour went past and i could see through to the workshop area where the seal housing and seals where still sitting on the bench and a group of staff where standing around enjoying a non work related conversation. I called out and asked what was going on as have been here for quite a while and was anxious to get the customer's work vehicle reassembled.
    To my shock i was asked "how does it feel? how does it feel to have your time wasted by someone wanting a 50c part. I made you drive all the way down here and sit around for what 3/4 of an hour now? how does it feel to have your time wasted?"
    I was shocked. I stated i only want the seals - a couple of 45mm O-rings to repair one of your company's air lockers. Can you help me or not?
    Warren replied with i can sell you a complete seal housing assembly to replace your current carrier but it will be almost a thousand bux and you will have to upgrade to a single 50mm carrier bearing on one side only. either that or i will sell you a brand new air locker at full retail and tell you its a special price cos you work in the industry as he chuckled at what he had just done.
    Warren at ARB Penrith refused to sell me the 2x little O-rings and said there is much more money in selling a new unit than there is in repairing them so thats why he refuses to and on that occasion literally threw the seal housing to me and told me to either buy a new air locker or piss off.
    I called my boss immediately and relayed word for word what had been said and done and then further contacted the Moorebank branch where i was put in touch with the storeman since there is no such thing as a complaints department being a franchise.
    The Moorebank store foreman (also named Warren) sympathised with me and said that it wasn't the first complaint nor will it ever be the last and he said that there is only 2 different sized seals for the Toyota range - being a 45mm or 50mm seal and sent me out the 45mm seals i required via post for free! to make up for the headaches and hassles.
    That afternoon after receiving the seals the customer was able to get on his way and back to work after nearly a week being out of business due to his vehicle being off the road.
    I have been informed by an ex ARB employee that the kind hearted Warren from the Moorebank head office no longer works for ARB and it is against ARB's hard sell policy to offer any form of support for their products not covered under warranty.

    So you've decided not to go down the same path but ask what else is there?
    personally i like the Torsen Gleason diff aka Detroit Truetrac.
    It doesn't require compressed air into the housing
    It doesn't require an air compressor to be fitted and running
    it has no messy air lines nor require drilling of the diff housing
    it is quiet and always engaged
    works similar to a conventional LSD unit so there is no downgrade if your vehicle is currently equipped with an LSD.
    Can be fitted in both front and rear diffs without causing loss of steering around corners or in the mud
    compared to ARB's air locker kit is much cheaper to purchase and has no on going servicing requirements like replacing seals.

    If you are heart set on installing a locker, why not look at electric solenoid lockers or external actuation lockers?
    TJM for example do offer a locker similar to ARB's but from my experience back their product 100% and do offer ongoing replacement parts unlike ARB.

    I am not payed in any way by any company to promote or demote the products described above however in answer to a question i was asked by Warren at ARB Penrith "What am i going to do about it?" (after i told him that he his business has the worst product support) Sharing what i have learnt from experience with everyone who chooses to read this post may be pretty good response to his question :)

    for those interested in the Torsen Gleason diff check out this link for more info
    Gleason's Impossible Differential
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 25, 2013
  2. mattyboii

    mattyboii New Member

    ps sorry to those out there who just bought a new ARB Air Locker
  3. Reddave

    Reddave Member

    You are a very angry man!!!!

    But seriously, each to their own, I run a workshop and have seen many air lockers that have failed and many that haven't

    I don't have lockers currently, but will be fitting air operated lockers when the funds become avaliable because for what I want to achieve that is how I will achieve it

    You had a bad experience, and it turns you off a product, that's fine, I get that(see my thread about Mickey Thompson tyres) but like I said, each to their own

    There is a multitude of different ways to achieve a 'locked differential' each has it's own compromises, fit what's best for you
  4. noelh

    noelh Member

    Hi there

    Hi Matty thanks for the insight into ARB air lockers as I only just spoke to ARB Moorebank this morning about buying and getting them to install a set on my front axle as I have a LSD on the rear and was told that I don't need lockers there as it is LSD.
    I will check out the link you posted and post what I learn but the quote I got from ARB was $2100.00 fitted per diff and I also spoke to Opposite Lock about fitting E-Lockers and there quote was $2050.00 fitted per diff. Maybe the link you posted might be cheaper but I will let you know.
    Noel H:)
  5. Pajer_oh

    Pajer_oh New Member

    thanks for the info, saved me some stuffing around and $$$ i would have spent later on down the track
  6. Rocker

    Rocker New Member

    Will go along with your gripe on the poor customer service mate, but the product itself I couldn't fault. Mine (front & rear) have been put through the works and are yet to cause me grief.

    Calm down :)
  7. Vegetoast

    Vegetoast Active Member

    Mine are near 10 years old. a few axles and crown gears other than that, fine. :D touch wood.:rolleyes:
  8. mitschal02

    mitschal02 5th Annual Victorian Gathering member

    The Mitsubishi Challenger LSD is a Torsen Gleason diff :D
    Same as the Hummers :D

    If funds ever allow we will be fitting a ARB air locker for the front as they are the only one available for the front diff of a Challenger :)
  9. mattyboii

    mattyboii New Member

    Hey Noel,
    before you buy either diff, just weigh up the pros and cons of both. Personally (pending the brand design) i would choose the E-locker over the ARB air locker.
    Main reasons - taking customer service history out of the equation, the air locker you still have to mount a noisy air compressor and run air lines to a diff that could potentially do damage to your diff gears etc and leave you stranded with out oil thanks to an oil seal being blown out.
    On the other side of the equation find out if the E-locker is one that is mechanically engaged or held in place by a solenoid. For example uses a solenoid to engage the diff lock when you want to use it and power must be supplied at all times whilst in use or only during switching. The latter is a much better unit as even though both diffs use solenoids to engage the solenoids tend to last longer if they don't have to be powered up all the time.
  10. croozza

    croozza Active Member

    If my memory serves me right, i do recall that the cheap chinese copy of the ARB Air Locker did not have part numbers on the locker itself. This is how you can tell the two apart, and that is whay they were asking for that number. So the locker you were repairing was infact a locker that ARB does not recognise. This is why you prbibly got the run around, I know if someone has copied my product and had a problem with it and then wanted me to supply the parts, I would be doing the same.
    Milan77 likes this.
  11. Guido_s

    Guido_s New Member

    From searching the various internet sites for Australia distributors of the Detroit Truetrac
    it seems that they are Eatons.

    Is the E-locker the same as the Truetrac??

  12. Fishigan

    Fishigan New Member

    No, I believe the E Locker is similar to an air locker where it is engaged via a switch. E Lockers have an electrical solenoid and air lockers have a pneumatic solenoid. I think the Detroit Truetrac is engaged automatically.
  13. Isitslippery

    Isitslippery Member

    Long story.

    I change my answer to:

    5 year warranty.

    Promise of a good fit up.

    I won a compressor, which helped a lot.

    Better warranty procedure than some competitors.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2014
    Sharpy likes this.
  14. Swaggie

    Swaggie Moderator

    Athough there has been good reviews for the e-locker (for people that have them) i came across this site i thought would be useful too fix the issue should it arise....

    elocker+actuator issues
  15. ruffgq

    ruffgq Member

    Maybe TJM needs to advertise the Prolocker a bit more, no one ever seems to ask about it, all the questions on forums seem to be about those cheap lokka lockers or *****ing about air lockers.
    The prolocker / JacMac design has been around for 25 odd years, it's well and truly a proven product.
  16. Big Rig

    Big Rig 4x4 Earth Contributer

    I've had no issue with their lockers and I have them in front and rear of my xj but I've got elockers in the rubicon and reckon they are heaps better. No noisy compressor and there is no compressed air going into the diff. I've always been a bit concerned about that. As for arb in general, I agree. There has never been any after sales support, the salespeople like to argue with you to try and prove they know more about four wheel driving than you just to bignote themselves. If you go in knowing exactly what you want they don't give you the time of day. I have brought gear from them in the past but my last experience left a bad taste in my mouth so I won't be back at this stage.
  17. Swaggie

    Swaggie Moderator

    Maybe people are not aware of it,I certainly wasn't:);)...
  18. dutchies80

    dutchies80 New Member

    I've had two ARB air lockers for 5 years, and the front one has gone through three sets of seals. What a bugger to remove the diff center each time. If I had my time again I would buy something else.

    As far as service, i've had shit and great from different stores.
    Richmond Vic - Shit
    Thomastown Vic - Great. these guys bend over backward for me even for a $2 part.
    Robert Idzes likes this.
  19. cloughcarib

    cloughcarib Well-Known Member

    I've been saving up for quite some time for ARB air lockers, and to say the least, I'm not impressed with what people are saying about the after sales service which for me, is VERY important. Especially as ARB Penrith is my local store.
    I'm now shopping around where I had my heart set on the ARB lockers because of a desire to put something in my car that I can rely on 100%, but if they cant be arsed selling a small part to repair their product, then I cant be arsed buying their product.

    Just got off the phone with Brian at Locked Drive Systems (details) in Parramatta, and was pleasantly surprised by the level of help and advice he offered.
    SlownEasy likes this.
  20. Swaggie

    Swaggie Moderator

    Hiya Mate

    I would be looking right into every product available,because what you have saved for isn't cheap by any means ,try to work out if its easy to fix in the field and if not who is able to fix it asap...

    With ARB you have the option of taking it to any of there stores Aussie wide but if you go out on Weekends most of the time hows that going to be of any help,I tend to go Weekdays...

    The E-locker seems fairly easy to fix if something goes wrong,especially the electronic side of it..I posted a link about it on a previous page in this thread...

    Goodluck with your choice

Share This Page