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How-To: Adjusting Transfer Case Shift Linkage (Manual Shift T-Case)

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Old 12-28-2012, 02:00 PM   #1
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How-To: Adjusting Transfer Case Shift Linkage (Manual Shift T-Case)

When you shift your truck from 2WD into 4High, Neutral, or 4Low, and instead of a nice sharp click into gear, you feel like you're stirring through a bowl of oatmeal to find the strawberry bits (sweet spot), you need to adjust your shift linkage. Here's how.

Tools I used:
3/8" drive ratchet
3/8" wobble drive
14mm socket for 3/8" drive
Large adjustable crescent wrench
Paint pen (optional)
Philips screwdriver
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:01 PM   #2
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Start by removing the shift boot. There are two philips head screws holding it down. Pull back the boot to reveal them. Unscrew them.
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:03 PM   #3
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Then remove the shift knob. It simply pulls off, with some effort. Be careful doing this. One time when I was removing a shift knob from a Camaro, I was pulling on it really hard and when it let go, my elbow came up and smashed the windshield, shattering it. Don't do that.

Once the knob is off, lift the boot up and off, and remove the foam padding under it.
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:05 PM   #4
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You'll see the shift gate which has detents to guide and stop the lever's travel. To the left is the vent tube, which goes to the transfer case. For some reason mine was plugged with a trim fastener. I can't think of any reason to have a plugged vent tube so I removed the fastener.
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:11 PM   #5
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On mine, when I shifted forward into 2WD, there is a lot of empty space between the lever and the front of the shift gate. It's supposed to only have a little bit of clearance. When I pulled back to go into 4Hi, instead of going straight back into it, I had to pull the lever to the left to do so. This is wrong! The shift pattern on your knob shows how it's supposed to be. I got so used to shifting this way but it is hard to find the sweet spot of where 4Hi is, and it would sometimes jump out of 4Hi back into 2WD as a result.

When the lever is pulled all the way back into 4Low (you'll need to have transmission in Neutral to do this) there's a gap in between the lever and where the shift gate has an angled bit. It would bang into the back of the shift gate when I pulled back, making 4Low jump out sometimes.

What does this all mean? In relation to the shift lever, in my case, the shift gate needs to be moved backwards toward the rear of the car, while the lever stays in place.

In your case, you may not need adjustment, or you may even need to move the shift gate the other way. Try turning the ignition on, transmission in neutral, and shift your transfer case through each range while watching the 4x4 and Low Range indicator lights. Does it match up at the right points?
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:17 PM   #6
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Now get under the car on the drivers side. Find the side of the transfer case. There are two bolts you'll need to loosen. I've pointed them out in the pictures with green arrows.

The large bolt is some odd size. I didn't have a big enough metric socket for it. The SAE socket I had that sort of fit (1-1/8") didn't have enough room for the ratchet in there, so I used a crescent wrench.

The smaller bolt is a 14mm. I used a ratchet with a wobble drive to get at it. It is tricky to access but you are only loosening it, not removing it.

Ford says to loosen both bolts one turn. I marked the large bolt with a paint pen so I'd know how far I turned it. However, I found that if you loosen them both one full turn, the shift gate gets too wobbly. Try loosening them one half turn or so. This lets the shift gate pivot and adjust forward and back.
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:18 PM   #7
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More pictures of loosening the bolts. DO NOT fully remove them, just loosen them a half turn or so!
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:22 PM   #8
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Now get inside the car and move the shift plate to where it needs to be.

In 4Low, the angled part of the gate should just barely touch the lever or clear it by a tiny bit.

In 2High, there should be just a tiny gap in front of the shift lever in between it and the gate.

I used the shift knob as a wedge to hold the shift gate in the right position while I tightened up the bolts. Keeps it from flopping around and throwing off your adjustment.

Once you get this adjusted, get underneath and tighten the two bolts up. The larger one should be tightened to 70-90ft/lbs and the smaller to 32-42ft/lbs.

Get inside the car and check that the adjustment hasn't moved.

Check that it shifts properly.
Going from 2High to 4High, the lever should come back and firmly click into place, without having to pull the lever left over the neutral stop.
When you shift to 4Low, it should shift back and engage correctly like in the third picture.
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Last edited by arco777; 02-18-2013 at 09:38 AM.
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:23 PM   #9
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Reinstall the foam, then the shift boot, then tighten down the two screws.
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:24 PM   #10
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Push the shift knob firmly back on. You're done.
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Old 12-28-2012, 09:44 PM   #11
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Gonna have to check mine, it's tough to find 4Hi.
Thanks!




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Old 12-29-2012, 02:23 AM   #12
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Gonna have to check mine, it's tough to find 4Hi.
Thanks!
Ditto, I can never find 4hi. I've never seen what thae factory cut away looks like for the shifter too. I think I need to do some trimming and find some foam.




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Old 12-29-2012, 04:16 PM   #13
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Glad I could help. I have had issues finding 4High for years now, and I never stopped to think that the way I had to pull the lever left to get it didn't match up with the shift pattern on the knob. After adjustment, it pulls straight back and clicks right into 4High.
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Old 12-29-2012, 04:25 PM   #14
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Here's the procedure out of the Ford Service Manual, with part numbers. I'd hope that my "how-to" explains it a little better with easier pictures!
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