Bad Transfer Case Symptoms ❤️ All That You Need to Know

Consequences Of A Bad Transfer Case

Here are some common things that happen when a transfer case goes bad.

Issues With Shifting Gears

If your vehicle deals with a bad transfer case, it will be challenging to shift gears. And this is the most common and earliest problem that you can detect.

Still, when you are experiencing issues while shifting gears, a bad transfer case might not be the only reason. But, it is always better to check the transfer case for damages or leaks.

Another thing to remember is that, with different models, the transfer case controlling system might vary significantly.

There is a good chance that your transfer case is working perfectly, and the issue lies with the controlling system. With different controlling systems, the gear shifting system might vary too.

So, read the vehicle’s manual first. Anyway, if you are experiencing shifting issues, it is always good to check your transfer case.

Issues With Four-Wheel Drive

If your vehicle’s transfer case goes bad, it will affect the four-wheel-drive system. It is vital to identify these issues early.

Warning Lights Related To Four-Wheel Drive Transfer Case

For any vehicle, a warning light system is crucial. Usually, these warning lights will display on the dashboard.

Under any circumstance, you shouldn’t ignore the warning lights. Many people ignore them, and this might end up terribly.

When it comes to 4WD system warning lights, a message will display on your dashboard saying “Service 4-Wheel Drive”. Sometimes this 4WD drive issue might be coming from the 4WD drive system.

But this often happens when your vehicle’s transfer case goes bad. So, check the transfer case immediately.

If you cannot inspect the transfer case yourself, always reach for professional help.

Disengaging And Engaging Issues On Four-Wheel Drive Transfer Case

If your vehicle keeps disengaging and engaging from the 4WD system, you might have some problems related to the transfer case.

Disengaging and engaging the 4WD system will occur

Disengaging and engaging the 4WD system will occur regularly when your vehicle’s transfer case goes bad.

We highly recommend checking the transfer case immediately in such a situation. Driving with a bad transfer case is never a good idea!

Greasy Puddles Underneath Your Vehicle

At least once a month, you should look under your vehicle to check for potential issues. It is a good habit that most of us don’t take seriously.

When you have leakages in the transfer case, those leaked fluids can form a greasy puddle underneath your vehicle. In that situation, you will need to sort that particular leakage immediately.

Also, don’t forget to check under the axle assembly or the transmission. Sometimes these greasy puddles will come from both of these parts.

Another thing you should remember is modern vehicles takes a long time to show any leak.

Weird Humming, Grinding And Growling Noises

It might signal a severe issue whenever you hear a humming or grinding noise from your vehicle. These noises can be the cause of a bad transfer case.

If you did not take care of the issue timely, it might lead to a broken transfer case. The transfer case might be making these noises because of low fluids levels, mechanical problems, or other issues.

Fixing the problem by yourself can be a difficult task. In most cases, replacing the front portion and the chain will fix the problem.

To execute this kind of task, you will need pretty good mechanical skills.

Bad Transfer Case Can Damage Vehicle’s Transmission

We mentioned earlier in the article that you should never ignore or drive with a bad transfer case.

It could destroy your axle shaft, gearbox, and disc brakes. Unfortunately, replacing these items will cost you a lot of money and time.


What Causes Transfer Case Failure?

There can be many causes for transfer case failure but the two most common include a shaft seal failure and high mileage. As you continue to use your vehicle you put more miles on it and as this happens it simply causes all of the components in your vehicle to wear out. This is a natural progression with vehicles but if you haven’t properly maintained your vehicle you will notice that the higher your mileage, the older your vehicle, the higher your risk for transfer case failure. Additionally the shaft seal which is located on your transfer case is designed to prevent hydraulic fluid from leaking. But if it starts to leak because of a shaft seal failure it will cause a great deal of problems with your transmission and your gear shift.

Is it hard to rebuild a transfer case?

It is really simple to rebuild a t-case should the need ever arise. I highly recommend that you do the work yourself on the t-case because it is a huge confidence builder. It looks complicated and is a vital part of your driveline. However, it is simple and easy to work on.

Can I rebuild my own transfer case?

If you are having problems with the four-wheel drive option on your vehicle, it could be a result of a faulty transfer case or one of its components. Fortunately, you can avoid the financial burden of a costly replacement by rebuilding your existing transfer case, rather than buying a new one.

Types of transfer case:

There are different criteria are used for the classification of transfer cases:-

Based on the drive used:-

Based on the type of drive used for transmitting power to the front output shaft, the transfer cases are classified as follows,

[i] Chain driven transfer case:-

This type of transfer case uses a chain drive to transfer power from the rear output shaft to the front output shaft.

This type of transfer case is less noisy and used in most light-duty vehicles like passenger cars, pick-ups, SUVs, etc.

[ii] Gear-driven transfer case:-

This type of transfer case uses a set of gears to transmit the power from the rear output shaft to the front output shaft.

This transfer case has a higher strength than the chain-driven transfer case and hence it is used in heavy-duty vehicles like trucks. This transfer case is heavier than the chain drive transfer case and also creates more noise.

Based on the housing of transfer case:-

Based on the housing, the transfer case has the following two types:-

[i] Married transfer case:- The married type of transfer case is directly bolted onto the transmission unit of the vehicle.

[ii] Divorced transfer case:- In this type, the transfer case is placed independently and connected to the transmission through a short shaft.

Wrap Up

We hope that with this article, you were able to find the answer to the ‘what happens when a transfer case goes bad’ question.

To sum up, a bad transfer case will cause trouble to your transmission, four-wheel-drive system, and overall performance of the vehicle. Sometimes it might lead to costly repairs.

Remember, you can avoid these causes if you act quickly and wisely. So, whenever you recognize a potential symptom, take the necessary action immediately before the transfer case goes bad!

James has been a car enthusiast since his childhood when he learned the differences between a ford and a chevy from his father. He loves to drive and restore old cars with a special drive for Italian marvels. Currently, he has a 1968 Alfa Romeo. He has studied aeronautics and civil aviation in his college and still gets smitten by Galant SS and Lancer GSR. He is a New York-based product training director working with a giant automotive retailer. He loves to review and uncover the vehicles and their fascinating stories. He believes in keeping it legitimate with a keen passion for research on the latest technological upgrades in cars. While reading his articles or blogs, you can sense the extensive research and dedication backing the piece of text. He loves fried chicken, music, and spending quality time with his pet dog.

So why SG?

To avoid any confusion, it’s always a good idea to get a professional diagnose of your vehicle if you suspect a transfer case problem. The specialist team at S&G Gearbox Exchange in Perth will be able to better assess your vehicle and its underlying issues and work efficiently to get your card back on the road. You can contact a team member by calling (08) 9356 9988.

How Do I Know If I Have a Bad Transfer Case?

There are a few signs that you may have a bad transfer case. If your car is making strange noises, such as grinding or whining, this may be a sign that the chain or gears inside the transfer case are damaged.

If your car is having trouble changing gears, or if the gears feel “slippery,” this may also be a sign of a problem with the transfer case.

If your car starts to vibrate excessively, this may be a sign that the transfer case is seized or damaged. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to have your car checked out by a qualified mechanic as soon as possible.

Why Do Transfer Cases Go Bad?

There are a number of reasons why transfer cases may go bad. Some of the most common causes include:

1. Worn or damaged seals, gaskets, or bearings

Seals, gaskets, and bearings are mechanical components with a specific lifespan. Once that lifespan is reached, they tend to go bad, leading to a bad transfer case.

2. Low fluid level or pressure

If the fluid level or pressure in the transfer case is incorrect, it might cause a slew of issues, including a damaged transfer case. It’s critical to keep the optimum fluid level and pressure in order for the transfer case to function properly.

3. Improper installation

If the transfer case is not installed properly, it can cause a wide variety of issues. These issues may include damage to the transmission, drivetrain, and other components. Make sure to have a qualified technician install your transfer case to ensure it is done correctly.

4. Excessive wear and tear

Transfer cases are subjected to a great deal of wear and tear, especially if they are used frequently. Over time, this wear and tear can cause serious damage to the unit, leading to a bad transfer case.

5. Accidental damage

Accidental damage is another common reason why transfer cases go bad. If the unit is dropped or hit with a blunt object, it can cause serious damage, leading to a bad transfer case.

6. Overheating

If the unit is subjected to too much heat, it may cause the seals, gaskets, or bearings to fail. This can lead to a wide variety of issues, including a bad transfer case.

7. Rust and corrosion

Rust and corrosion can also cause a bad transfer case. If the unit becomes corroded, it may not be able to transfer power properly, leading to a wide variety of issues.

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