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1998 Explorer 4WD help please


New Member
December 16, 2013
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Year, Model & Trim Level
1998 explorer
Hello All, I am new to the forum but for the past few days I have been reading everything I can that has to do with 4WD on this forum. My wife has a 1998 Ford Explorer 4.0 V6 with 270k miles, it is by far the best vehicle ever! To this day its her daily driver and she loves it. For a few years the 4wd has not worked, and this winter is turning out to be a nasty one, so I would like to fix it for her.
I am going to get long winded so bare with me...So basically I need some help getting started with trouble shooting since I have never worked on a 4wd truck before (I have worked on all sorts of other stuff).
My observations are this:
-When I move selector knob to 4hi the dash light will come show 4hi. If I put the truck in neutral place the know to 4l, the dash light will show 4L. But on a road test it does not engage the 4wd in 4hi and definetly does not go into low range. There are no blinking lights.
-in the snow when the know is in Auto and the rear wheels slip you can hear the 4wd trying to come on, but it does not. Its not consistant with either, sometimes when the wheels slip you can feel it, but most times it does nothing.
-I jacked the front end up, started the truck and placed it into 4hi. I could turn the driveshaft freely, this tells me its not engaged to the rear drive shaft. If I turned on one wheel the other wheel spun in the opposite direcetion. I did not place the truck into D and try this. LOL! When I turn the front driveshaft the front wheel spun.

From what I have read the transfer case shift motor only switches ranges and does not actually place the truck in 4wd. There is a electro mechanical clutch that will lock the front driveshaft to the rear. If the system will not shift into low range does that mean the transfer shift motor is bad? I am not sure how to transfer case shift motor and the clutch are related...so you can see I am still confused. BUT everything I have learned and tried has been due to this forum!

I am looking for some direction here, I really appreciate the help.