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Old 08-19-2010, 12:07 PM   #1
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4WD Engagement Issues

Hello all, I've got an interesting issue I'd like to hear all of your thoughts on...First off the truck is a 1998 TJ with ~120k on the 4.0. The auto trans has been rebuilt, but that was done a few thousand miles ago. I'm pretty sure the Tcase was left alone, althought at this point I'm not sure that was the wisest choice. See, until about 6 months ago I was never around the truck much. Its more my fiance's truck, and we've been dating on and off since '07. We just moved in together, and until then she was living in KS, me in WI. This is the reason I wasn't 100% involved in the upkeep of the TJ. (sorry, that was a little longer explination than I wanted.)

Now onto the issue. A night ago I was using the TJ to yank a tree out of the ground, and not a very large one at that. The pulling out of the tree when flawlessly, but I did need to engage 4low. That was where I found the issue.

I need to give a significant tug on the lever to get the truck into 4hi as it is, and I just assumed that was the nature of the beast. It has always been like that, all of the *few* times I've put it into 4 (again, haven't been around the truck much until 6 months ago). Switching into 4low was worse, and didn't engage at first. Seemed like the truck didn't want to bring the Tcase out of neutral, and I heard gear teeth barely kissing each other, which told me gears were grinding a bit, also feeding the "non-engagement" theory.

In the end the truck did go into 4low, and the tree came out no problem. But 4low was really...grumpy. When shifting the lever...the lever itself almost felt loose, or it felt like whatever it was connected to (the Tcase) was loose. I looked under the truck, everything seemed OK, which forces me to think that if there is indeed an issue (and I'm convinced there is), then its internal. I'm not about to crack open a working (so far) Tcase just to poke around, I'd rather know for sure this is what I need to do before going in balls deep.

So, has anyone had any Tcase issues like this? And for those of you out there just itching to call out the trans wasn't in neutral you can chill. It was in neutral, and the truck was standing still, all 4 not moving.

Any help or thoughts or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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Old 08-19-2010, 12:10 PM   #2
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start simple.. adj the shift linkage to the t-case and see if that helps. there is a adj screw/bolt what ever its called down there.. move it forward or back and see if that helps.

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Old 08-19-2010, 12:16 PM   #3
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Everything seemed tight, and not loose or easy to move, but I didn't try adjusting anything. I'll try that tonight if I get the chance.
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Old 08-19-2010, 12:52 PM   #4
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Old 08-19-2010, 07:08 PM   #5
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Shifting into 4Hi or Lo sometimes needs a "special" touch. I know it took me a couple of times before I mastered it. Do you have the owners manual for it? That my give you some pointers, or you can do a Google search for a video called "Jeep Wrangler tips and basics......"
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Old 08-20-2010, 10:33 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Neil F. View Post
The lever isn't broken, the linkage is tight as I have already stated. The lever just has to be pulled rather firmly, and the Tcase seemed to almost kick the lever out of placement when I moved it into 4low.

I would compare it to a stick shift vehicle thats had its clutch let out before the gear selector was fully into place. I could feel teeth grinding through the selector handle, and the truck almost seemed to kick the lever back into neutral.

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Originally Posted by 03 RUBI View Post
Shifting into 4Hi or Lo sometimes needs a "special" touch. I know it took me a couple of times before I mastered it. Do you have the owners manual for it? That my give you some pointers, or you can do a Google search for a video called "Jeep Wrangler tips and basics......"
That is one of the silliest things I've ever heard. Going into 4hi is just a straight pull. There should be no special touch required unless something is wrong, or something is being done wrong. As I've explained, I was doing nothing wrong, the truck was at a full stop and the transmission was in neutral.

As for 4low, read what I posted above. Maybe that will help you understand the issue I'm having. I feel you may not have a firm grasp of what I'm explaining. I, however, appreciate your help.
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Old 08-20-2010, 12:58 PM   #7
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Simple, when in 4 hi, travel about 3mph, shift your auto trans into neutral and pull up into 4 low quickly. place transmission back into gear and your good to go.
ps. just learned this myself bu works great. good luck
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Old 08-20-2010, 02:51 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Wranglerken View Post
Simple, when in 4 hi, travel about 3mph, shift your auto trans into neutral and pull up into 4 low quickly. place transmission back into gear and your good to go.
ps. just learned this myself bu works great. good luck
x2 at times it helps to have the Jeep moving (slowly) to get the gears to sync/mesh into 4lo.
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Old 08-20-2010, 02:55 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Wranglerken View Post
Simple, when in 4 hi, travel about 3mph, shift your auto trans into neutral and pull up into 4 low quickly. place transmission back into gear and your good to go.
ps. just learned this myself bu works great. good luck

Exactly.....been doing it this way for 30+ years......NEVER fails......
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Old 08-20-2010, 03:34 PM   #10
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Man, folks are really missing the point here!

I'm not really having issues with 4hi, it just requires a good tug to get it in. I'm ok with that.

The big issue is 4low, and according to the owners manual of my Jeep (and all other 4wd trucks I've owned) trying to engage 4low while moving is a bad, bad choice. The trans needs to be in neutral, and the truck has to be at a complete stand still. I'm not gonna try creeping along and popping it into 4low. Obviously if that is necessary something is wrong with the Tcase.

And this is what I need to know. Whats wrong, and how does it get fixed?
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Old 08-20-2010, 03:45 PM   #11
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No they arent saying to do it while moving.... I had the same issue as you when I first got my jeep. but they are correct.
First you do as you said, stop, put it in neutral, and go to 4 hi. then pu the trans into gear and move a few inches. just let it crawl. then brake, go back into neutral, and shift to 4 low. It should work. This is what I have to do with mine 3/4 of the time. Just try it out, I know it sounds like it should be easy but, hey this is what you gota do.
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Old 08-20-2010, 03:47 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gee oh Dee View Post
Man, folks are really missing the point here!

I'm not really having issues with 4hi, it just requires a good tug to get it in. I'm ok with that.

The big issue is 4low, and according to the owners manual of my Jeep (and all other 4wd trucks I've owned) trying to engage 4low while moving is a bad, bad choice. The trans needs to be in neutral, and the truck has to be at a complete stand still. I'm not gonna try creeping along and popping it into 4low. Obviously if that is necessary something is wrong with the Tcase.

And this is what I need to know. Whats wrong, and how does it get fixed?
We are commenting on shifting into 4lo. With the transmission in neutral, it helps to have the Jeep slightly rolling to help the gears to mesh into 4lo. Once engaged, you may shift the transmission out of neutral.

It's a Jeep thing, once you get the hang of it - the process becomes transparent.
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Old 08-20-2010, 03:48 PM   #13
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No they arent saying to do it while moving....
Really? Re-read what has been posted...I even bolded/italicized/underlined where they DO tell me to be moving...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wranglerken View Post
Simple, when in 4 hi, travel about 3mph, shift your auto trans into neutral and pull up into 4 low quickly. place transmission back into gear and your good to go.
ps. just learned this myself bu works great. good luck
Quote:
Originally Posted by IslandTJ View Post
x2 at times it helps to have the Jeep moving (slowly) to get the gears to sync/mesh into 4lo.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jim_n_Looziana View Post
Exactly.....been doing it this way for 30+ years......NEVER fails......
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Old 08-20-2010, 03:53 PM   #14
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I don't have access to my manual but here's an excerpt from the Jeep website:

Can I shift into 4WD Low Range at any speed?

No. With the vehicle rolling at 2 to 3 mph (3 to 5 km/h), shift an automatic transmission to Neutral or depress the clutch pedal on a manual transmission. While the vehicle is coasting at to 3 mph (3 to 5 km/h), shift the transfer case lever firmly through Neutral and into the Low Range position.

Link is here:

Jeep - 4x4 Basics - Engineering FAQs - 4WD SUVs
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Old 08-20-2010, 03:54 PM   #15
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Well, heck, I don't know what else to tell you.


I think the point is......try this method, and I'll bet it solves your dilemma......



We ain't saying "moving 50 mph...." 1-2 mph is all you need........
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Old 08-20-2010, 03:58 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by IslandTJ View Post
I don't have access to my manual but here's an excerpt from the Jeep website:

Can I shift into 4WD Low Range at any speed?

No. With the vehicle rolling at 2 to 3 mph (3 to 5 km/h), shift an automatic transmission to Neutral or depress the clutch pedal on a manual transmission. While the vehicle is coasting at to 3 mph (3 to 5 km/h), shift the transfer case lever firmly through Neutral and into the Low Range position.

Link is here:

Jeep - 4x4 Basics - Engineering FAQs - 4WD SUVs
Man, that just scares the hell out of me. I'm not kidding when I say *every* truck I've had that has been 4wd has had it clearly stated not to put it into 4low when moving at all. 1998 Ford Exploder, 1992 Toyota SR5, they have all said no movement. I just don't wanna do any further damage if something is indeed wrong. I like things to function flawlessly. I guess I'm a perfectionist when it comes to certain things. :/
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Old 08-20-2010, 04:03 PM   #17
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Well, heck, I don't know what else to tell you.


I think the point is......try this method, and I'll bet it solves your dilemma......



We ain't saying "moving 50 mph...." 1-2 mph is all you need........
I hope you and IslandTJ (or everyone else for that matter) don't think I'm just trying to be a pain in the ass, I have reasons for being meticulous with this truck.

Originally its my girlfriend's truck. We're both 25 and have been "together" since 2nd grade. We've had some really, REALLY great memories with this Jeep, and I want it to be perfect. Maybe not body-wise, cuz we've got some love rubs on it from branches, but at least everything needs to work right.
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Old 08-20-2010, 04:07 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by 4Jeepn
start simple.. adj the shift linkage to the t-case and see if that helps. there is a adj screw/bolt what ever its called down there.. move it forward or back and see if that helps.
Same thing happened to my jeep and this fixed the problem
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Old 08-20-2010, 04:09 PM   #19
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Well, in all of the owner's manuals I have it clearly states to be moving 2-3 mph when shifting from or to 4L.


On page 154 of my 2003 Jeep owner's manual it states that, and then it has a note that says...."shifting into or out of 4L is possible with the vehicle stopped, HOWEVER, difficulty may occur due to the mating teeth not being properly aligned."


And, I have owned 10+ new and used 4x4's and the owner's manual in ALL of them stated the same thing. That's including a 1988 Toyota, a 1993 4-Runner, a 1995 Toyota, several Z-71's, Tahoe, 3 HD 2500's, etc.........

And, my Dad did it the same way in his old Bronco's, and full size pickups. So, since 1979, when I got my driver's license, and first clunker CJ, that's the way I have always done it.


Maybe your owner's manual is different than mine........mine is factory.......
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Old 08-20-2010, 04:10 PM   #20
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Same thing happened to my jeep and this fixed the problem
Yeah, I really need to make time to check this out. I ended up really busy last night cuz there has been a death in the family.
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Old 08-20-2010, 04:15 PM   #21
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I am gonna scan the owner's manual page here for ya.........
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Old 08-20-2010, 04:19 PM   #22
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Thank you, mine isn't in front of me, and I don't think the lady friend got one when she bought the truck. She's got a CD but its a HUGE pita to search through. Very poorly orginized.
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Old 08-20-2010, 04:21 PM   #23
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Here ya go....from the Jeep factory owner's manual......


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Old 08-20-2010, 04:32 PM   #24
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Craziness. I guess it is what it is. I just hope the Tcase doesn't take a dump on us while we're out on a trail!
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Old 08-20-2010, 04:41 PM   #25
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Hope she works now my friend.

no more
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Old 08-20-2010, 04:50 PM   #26
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Once ya get the hang of it, you'll be doing it without even thinking about it......
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Old 08-20-2010, 04:53 PM   #27
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Once ya get the hang of it, you'll be doing it without even thinking about it......
I'm not sure about that! The thought still makes me cringe and my butt pucker.
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Old 08-20-2010, 04:55 PM   #28
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Well, take from an OLD man.........get out of the 4x4 as a hobby mode,,,,,,,
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Old 08-20-2010, 06:59 PM   #29
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Golly Gee maybe I wasn't so wrong after all huh?
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Old 08-21-2010, 12:20 AM   #30
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Does your jeep have any kind of lift at all?

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