How to Look after Your Vehicle’s Transfer Case

As cars become more sophisticated, manufacturers are always looking for a way to improve stability, traction and the overall ride. These companies are increasingly shifting to four-wheel-drive for their vehicle range, as they've been proven to be not only more efficient, but also safer. You may be new to the world of four-wheel-drive and wonder if you should pay more attention to its upkeep, due to the additional complexity. There is one area that you do need to focus on within the transmission system and that is the transfer case. What is this and what problems should you be looking out for?

How Does This Work?

The transfer case is a complicated device that manages the power created by the engine and distributes it to the front and rear axles of any four-wheel-drive vehicle. It is situated behind the transmission case and has a drive shaft from the front and rear connected to it.

Inside the transfer case is a complex series of gears which allow the vehicle driver to shift in between high and low range, or choose only two-wheel drive versus four. In two-wheel drive operation, the transfer case would simply direct the power towards the vehicle's rear axle, without any additional input.

Some Known Issues

This component is designed to put up with a lot of wear and tear and ordinarily should give no problems. However, from time to time you may notice some issues.

For example, if you're finding it difficult to shift the gearstick into the required range this could be due to a number of problems. The linkage itself could have come loose or sustained some damage so that it is no longer true. You need to have that checked and possibly add lubrication. You may also find that the transfer case lubricant level is low. Refill it, or take the opportunity to change the oil for new oil. In certain circumstances, the internal components within the transfer case may be damaged or worn. This will require the unit to be taken apart and overhauled by a qualified mechanic.

Some Other Fixes

Sometimes, when a vehicle has been driven for a long distance, the torque that's built up in the system can make it difficult to shift gears when needed. To get round this problem it's recommended that you stop for several minutes and then shift the gear into two wheel drive before moving off again. Always remember that the speed you are travelling needs to be relevant to the gear you are trying to select. You will find it challenging to shift into low gear when you're doing a relatively high speed, for example.

Taking It Further

If you're coming across any other issues with your four-wheel-drive transmission, take it in to a qualified mechanic for a full service.