Air Lockers vs. electric lockers vs. Cable lockers

Which Locker do you recommend?

  • ARB Air Lockers

    Votes: 28 63.6%
  • Electric Lockers

    Votes: 11 25.0%
  • Cable Lockers

    Votes: 5 11.4%

  • Total voters


I'm interested in lockers however below is the basic summary of my understanding as to their pro and cons. I should add that I'd like to keep my offroading to moderate, however I seem to find myself in situations it would be nice to have them. I'd like to know the from the experienced if they have a leaning and I hope to be able to create a poll. I will post this in mudd as well, however I consistently do not get updates from their website for whatever reason when following threads.

Cable lockers: dependable in the sense that one has the option of engaging the locker if accessible from underneath the vehicle if necessary. Also full floaters. There's a sequence that has to be followed when engaging. I don't know if it's front first then rear or vice versa however I imagine (someone please give an example) that it may be advantageous to engage only the front or rear.

Air Lockers: To be able the engage the front or rear. Requires on board air and holding tank. Can leak.

Electric lockers: I assume they can individually lock however if a solenoid goes so does your locking.

I'm certain there are other pros and cons, please add to the above from your insights.

They all seem to add up monetarily to the same so that is moot point to me. Thanks!
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Each has pros & cons for sure.

I think the "Air Lockers can leak" thing gets blown out of proportion. I've had 4 ARB lockers between two rigs (two in my BII, 11 years now, one in my Ranger pickup, 18 years now), and not one of them has ever leaked (my Ranger's other ARB grenaded it's internals, but still didn't leak air lol).
What i think happens is the O-rings get damaged by careless installers and is what causes them to leak (other times it's overtightening the air fittings). Routing of hoses next to heat sources such as catalytic converters or places where trail objects can snag them is another issue brought about by carelessness. Properly installed, I think the ARB setup is extremely reliable. ARB's compressor (with small integrated holding tank) doubles as a decent air source for airing up tires too (though the comp does get pretty hot after awhile without a fan placed next to it).

Electric lockers seem to have a lot more moving parts in them (and many are not even lockers at all... case in point: the Auburn ECTED I think it's called). I've seen the ECTED let people down (slip) when they need them most. Like air-activated lockers, poor routing of wiring can just as easily lead to an unlockable locker.

Same again for cable lockers, a snagged or damaged cable is likely to render it unlockable (though admittedly a cable setup is likely to be a lot more robust than a thin electrical wire or an air hose). Cable lockers would seem to be the least vulnerable of the three types to issues stemming from careless installation.

Not sure with OX lockers and the various electric locker offerings, but ARB's wiring harness I do know has a lockout that requires you lock the rear locker first before you can lock the front locker, however it is easy to defeat this with a little splicing of the wires in the harness. Engaging just the front locker can be advantageous to "pull" the front of the rig around an obstacle without the rear locker trying to "push" the vehicle straight ahead into another object.


Thanks 4x4junkie. I already have on board and the chance of finding the arb second hand seem decent. Although, no full floater as I have a 60 series.


Expedition Leader
Personally I'll take mechanical every time. I don't have to worry about leaks, wires, compressors, cables, or any combination of the above. In my case lock hubs, engage 4x lever, motor. Unless they explode my Detroits work every time with no concern what-so-ever.

Ducky's Dad

Chrysler uses electric lockers on the Power Wagons and Jeeps. They seem to work OK if properly cleaned/maintained, but some have reported various failure modes, usually related to the electronics. The lockers in my '05 PW work fine, but are sometimes slow to engage. Others have reported a need to drive a bit to get them engaged, which does not help much once you are bogged.


There is a least one after market one that Beno sells, but they're 1500 a piece for lockers. I'm guessing they've got a few models covered.

I Leak Oil

Expedition Leader
Each has their "what if" that could keep them from functioning properly. Install any of them incorrectly and you'll have issues. Air makes sense if you already have an air source. Detroit is about as easy as it gets if you have a D60. No messing with gears etc.

Don't overthink it. Go with what's available and what you can afford.


I gotz dis
Given that this is an Expo Site target usage, most people drive on the road. Selectable locker is the optimal choice. However, it's really driven by what kind of terrain might be filling most of your runs. The other variable is driver experience with the locker type in use.

The previous posts pretty much capture the general choices. A further comment on electric lockers, specifically the Jeep Rubicon and Powerwagon ones as they are the same, use an electric signal that actuates a magnet in the carrier in order to move the engagement ring. Over time, the magnet's distance/proximity to the ring increases and therefore gets far enough away that it can't activate. The "fix" is shimming it closer to close the gapping.

Good luck with the decision!!


I put E lockers on my CJ7. LOVE it. Works great with the hit of a switch. Front and rear on separate switches. It is not my daily driver just a hunting and off-roading jeep. Pretty basic and stock except the lockers, tires, and shocks. I can't believe the difference it makes. Would do it again without question.


Expedition Leader
:sombrero: My elockers are still at 100% after over 7 years and I've modified them so that I have front/rear lockers in 2hi/4hi/4lo-instantaneous-no computer wait !

Relatively "un stickable"-:snorkel::snorkel:


:costumed-smiley-007:wings: JIMBO

LR Max

Local Oaf
Seems like air lockers are very strong, however its the air hoses that are the weak point. Overall if you aren't going to maintain the system (which no one really does), they end up deteriorating after a few years.

I've heard and seen good things about Ox Lockers. Seem to work well.

E-lockers, of course the Toyota ones are the popular reference. Eaton makes a locker which was originally designed for the 14 bolt series of axles. Works great in those applications. I didn't hear great things about them in Dana 60 and 44 applications. That said, this was 8 years ago so they might have gotten their act together. If so, this would be a viable solution.

I've heard electric lockers take longer to engage than air, but I think that is picking a little too much.

I've got a detroit in the rear of my truck. Took me a few days to get used to it, then never noticed it after that. Its truly a great way to go if you've got the wheelbase.

Happy Joe

Apprentice Geezer
I have been using the same ARB (air locker) with the same hose in various Jeeps for more than 25 years, without any problems and would recommend ARB air lockers without hesitation...

A friend has some Unimog portal axles (cable clockers) in his rock buggy and normally uses vice grips to keep them engaged (not sure that I could recommend them).