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Transfer Case Problems

by | Jul 23, 2022 | Best Western Transmission

When you are preparing to off-road, the last thing you want is to have a problem with your four-wheel drive vehicle.  Traversing rugged terrain requires a well-functioning four-wheel drive system – and one of the important components of that system is the transfer case.  In this month’s blog, we examine the transfer case and its purpose, and highlight common problems and symptoms that you may experience with your vehicle’s transfer case.

What is the Transfer Case?

To understand the transfer case, it is helpful to first think about a two-wheel drive vehicle and how it uses engine power to drive.  The two-wheel drive transfers energy from the transmission to the wheel axles through a single propeller shaft.  This is because with two-wheel drive, the driving power is only needed for the front or rear wheels.

The full-time or partial four-wheel drive vehicle requires more driving power to all four wheels, which is the function of the transfer case.  Essentially, the transfer case “transfers” the energy from the transmission to the front and rear wheel axles via two propeller shafts (the front and rear).

The transfer case is also able to control low or high torque (ie. rotational power) to the four-wheel drive, depending on the driving conditions.  This enables the vehicle to have increased traction when off-roading on rugged terrain or in unusual road surfaces or conditions.

Problems with the Transfer Case

The transfer case is a hard-working component that can become damaged or worn out over time.  The primary ways that the transfer case can develop problems include:

  1. Standard wear and tear – if you tend to do a lot of heavy off-roading, it may prematurely wear down your transfer case.
  2. Transfer case oil leaks – usually a damaged seal may result in leaking of fluid in the transfer case.
  3. Maintenance neglect – if you do a lot of heavy off-roading but neglect any transfer case maintenance, this may result in a worn or damaged transfer case.
  4. Poor Driving Habits – if you put your four-wheel drive through a lot of rough driving on a regular basis, this could easily contribute to damage and wear.

If you develop a problem with your transfer case, you may experience tell-tale symptoms, including:

  • Humming, whirring, or grinding noises when shifting gears or continuously coming from the transfer case
  • Hesitation or difficulty when shifting gears
  • Lowered or inconsistent four-wheel drive performance
  • Smoke or fluid leaks from the transfer case

It is important to have your vehicle inspected by a service professional as soon as possible when you notice any possible problems.   If neglected, these problems will only result in further damage and costly repairs to your four-wheel drive vehicle.

Call us today at Best Western Transmissions to schedule a full inspection of your system and the transfer case.  With decades of transmission and transfer case repair experience, the specialists at Best Western will ensure you follow all the necessary maintenance and repair schedules, keeping your 4WD vehicle working just as it should.