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nittanylns 04-30-2011 10:29 PM

Replacing a Transfer Case
I have a 97 4 cyl 5 speed and a few days ago my transfer case broke. By broke I mean the case split right down the middle. The front shaft was hanging by the chain with just a bit of case left around the yoke. I decided to go for a used one, there is a guy close to me that runs a jeep only junkyard. After talking to him I felt a bit better about what had happened, he had a pile of transfer cases split just like mine. He said what usually happens is a hard hit to the front that shoves the front drive shaft back into the transfer case and they crack. That is my first question, it makes sense to me but I want to hear from a few others if that is probably what happened. I have only owned it for a year or so and haven't hit anything but, to me, it could have taken that long to bust if the previous owner did it.

Today I pulled the old transfer case off. The front drive shaft has the double cardan cv joint in it and it is broken inside. The ball is visible in it and I'm not sure how to fix that. Heading to advance tomorrow to check on options, I will replace the drive shaft if I have to. I'm not sure if this is separate from the transfer case breaking or one could have caused the other but they will be fixed either way.
It was getting dark as I got finally got the transfer case off, those top 2 bolts are terrible. Here is my main question, when I separated the transfer case from the transmission the transmission started leaking fluid. I figured I had messed up the rear seal and it is easily and cheaply replaced so no big deal. After I got home I got to thinking about it and I am wondering if the seal is bad or if it would leak some when the transfer case shaft came out. It was too dark to see much so I couldn't tell if the fluid was coming from around the seal or leaking out of the transfer case shaft hole. I will probably replace the seal either way, $5 and 15 minutes extra are no big deal but it would be nice to know if I messed up the seal or not.
Thanks for any input!

fire239 04-30-2011 11:14 PM

More than likely, the bad CV in the front drive shaft bound up and broke the transfer case. The centering ball is easily replaced. You can buy just the ball or the whole piece that the ball rides in. Stu offroad has an excellent pictoral and write up.

KBR97 05-01-2011 01:12 PM


Here is my main question, when I separated the transfer case from the transmission the transmission started leaking fluid. I figured I had messed up the rear seal and it is easily and cheaply replaced so no big deal.
When the Tcase and Tranny are seperated the transmission will leak. The two of them being together is what "completes" the seal for the transmission.
At least thats how it is on my 97 4.0.

nittanylns 05-02-2011 07:52 PM

OK, today I've spent all day trying to repair the front drive shaft. I thought it was the yoke on the CV that was bad and it was but it was really bad. So bad the ball is fused to the drive shaft. The "bell" on the drive shaft that contains the inside u joint is also bent very bad so there's not much I can do but get a new driveshaft. That is going to take a week or so to come in no matter where I get it from.
So then I get to thinking which always leads me to trouble. Could I drive it for a week or so with no front drive shaft? I can go to work by a route where my top speed would be around 45. I don't see any reason why I can't but I want someone else's opinion. Anyone ever done this?

TnDz TJ 05-02-2011 10:28 PM

Sounds like you can fix this yourself.. as long as the shaft is not bent. I'm not kidding.... You sound like you can do this....

I doubt your double cardin is bent.... maybe cracked... check it closely.... compare pics of what you have from the site below...

Go to

Click on Drive line Products ( on left)

Click on Spicer bubble

These will be the 1310 series components of the double cardin joint. They have each and every piece you need to rebuild and/or repair your shaft.

I have built quite a few shafts in my day from the site for custom trash I was building.. again and again....

nittanylns 05-02-2011 11:20 PM

Thanks! I found exactly what I need there. Ball stud weld yoke is the term for it. The steel dust shield is what is bent on mine plus the yoke centering assembly that is completely shattered and fused. Whats weird is it just started chirping maybe 2 weeks before the transfer case exploded. That will teach me to wait and not fix it right away.

With the parts from there it opens up a lot of options for me. I can buy a cheap replacement on ebay for around $100 and that gives me time to repair mine correctly. It will still take several days to get the shaft but I have found several posts from google search that make me think it will be ok to drive without the front shaft while I wait on it. That will save me the $30 a day on the rental car I have been using!
Thanks again!

TnDz TJ 05-03-2011 02:07 AM

Anytime! When you have to build something from scratch for a custom fit.. or just repair what you have... they got it... and the prices are good too.

Make sure you get the correct size as well.... that will be important if the ball stud weld yoke is what you need. It must match the ID of the shaft tube you have. GET THIS RIGHT and you wont have a problem.

glad to help... let us know how it goes....

Sherpa 05-03-2011 01:09 PM

I bought my former TJ (a 1997 SE 5-speed with 88k miles and cold A/C) for only $1700 back in June 2009 because its transfer case was split in half just like yours. No big deal, I figured, and I trailered it home. The next day I found a local junkyard with a transfer case sitting on their shelf ($300) so I bought it and swapped it in. As I went to reinstall the front driveshaft, that's when I discovered the joints were dry and seized up, and then I realized why the t-case had exploded.

I drove it for a few weeks in RWD only. During that time, I dropped the driveshaft at a local repair shop which specializes in drivelines. They rebuilt it with all new joints, then balanced it. $200 later I took it home, popped it in and had 4WD. Voila!

fire239 05-03-2011 01:14 PM

I've been driving mine a year with no front DS, it wont hurt a thing.

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