Four-wheel-drive vehicles have increasingly sophisticated operating systems designed to make them as efficient as possible and to provide a safe and secure ride. While these systems are generally designed to last for a lifetime with only periodic service requirements, some issues can certainly still arise, especially when it comes to a component known as the transfer case. What is this, and what are some of the symptoms of a problem?
A transfer case is fitted to a vehicle that has the capability to switch between two-wheel or four-wheel-drive. Many vehicles that are usually driven in urban settings have this capability. It allows the operator to choose extra traction should they encounter bad driving conditions or turn onto a loose surface road.
Understanding the Transfer Case
The transfer case is usually fitted at the rear of the main transmission, linked to the rest of the system through a secondary output shaft. This shaft will be disengaged in normal conditions but will spring into action when the operator selects 4WD high or low in the cabin.
The transfer case is not particularly sophisticated in the bigger analysis but is simply designed to connect the passive axle. Still, it contains a range of gears, and friction is always a challenge, which is why you need to ensure that the fluid is in good condition and is changed when recommended.
If problems arise, you may notice that the vehicle tends to jump out of 4WD. Or you may find that you have a problem shifting between gears, which may be due to low fluid levels or damaged linkage. If the 4WD mode does not engage at all, this could be due to a variety of reasons. Don't forget that you should typically be stationary before trying to engage the system, but if you still face a challenge, you may have a failure within the transfer case.
Early Warning Signs
A sudden and significant failure is quite unusual, and you will typically notice some tell-tale warning signs in advance. To start with, be familiar with where the transfer case on your vehicle is situated. If you hear humming or grinding noises coming from the general direction, you may have issues with damaged gears, failed bearings or fluid levels.
The Best Approach
While you may not always need four-wheel-drive and may wonder if the transfer case issue is serious, remember that it could be a sign of bigger issues with your transmission. Therefore, it pays to get in touch with a qualified mechanic at the first signs of any problem. For more information about 4WD repairs, contact a local auto service.