1998 Moutaineer Transfer Case Problem | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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1998 Moutaineer Transfer Case Problem

'98 Mutineer

New Member
June 10, 2011
Reaction score
City, State
Robert, Louisiana
Year, Model & Trim Level
1998 Mountaineer, 6.0 AWD
I thought I had a bad wheel hub bearing and CV issue and replaced both. The morning after replacing both, the truck almost ground to a stop with plenty of smoke from the right front.

Are there seals that go bad on the transfer case that can be fixed? Can it be re-built or is total replacement needed?

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Are you sure it's the t-x case? It sits behind and slightly to the left of the transmission, almost directly under the driver seat.

Smoke from the R.F. doesn't point to the t-x case???

I could be wrong on the terminology. I'm an enthusiast, but certianly not extremely versed. It is the case that accepts the drivers front CV axle.

That's the front differential. The front wheels connect to the front half-shafts, that connect to the front differential that has the front driveshaft connected in the rear that connects to the transfer case under the drivers seat.

Get a Haynes manual as a good start.

Smoke from right front? Around the wheel? If so, something went wrong in the hub repair.

Front differential. Yes it has a seal where the cv axel slides into it which can be replaced. If the retaining spring in the seal was pushed out of place then the seal will leak. The gear oil will sling all over your exhaust leading to the smoke. They cost about $12. Removing is very easy. Hammering in the new one is a PITA on the passenger side because the angle and tight space to move a hammer.

I suspect the grinding was already happening before. It just got worse when you did the replacement as the hub and cv were not the source. The front is an open differential so left and right sides can turn independently. After lifting the tire off the ground, try turning it by hand. You should be able to feel and hear where its binding.

EDIT - Seal leak and gear oil will be easy to spot if you look under the truck. Did the grinding go away for any period of time after you did the replacement? If so, smoothjimmy is probably right with bad replacement hub or maybe not torqued correctly and it failed.

No smoke or oil coming from the hub or CV.

It probably wasn't the cause in the first place, but I picked what was simplest to diagnose/fix.

It is only when I get to the end of my 45 mile commute that it gets bad. If I go on a short trip I didn't notice. The timeline is:
-This Monday I saw the fluid and a small bit of smoke.
-Parked it
-Replaced the hub/bearing on Wednesday and drove home.
-Noticed the sound at the end of my trip - no smoke.
-Parked it.
-Replaced the CV Thursday evening - test dive was fine - short trip.
-Drove to work today and it seemed like it wanted to seize up two miles short of my destination.
-Tow truck.

The fluid leak is only on the one side and it is black fluid not a grease. I could see fluid coming out of the differential at the CV axle.

I think you have 2 issues--
a seal leak and a frozen caliper which isn't releasing. The friction from this will cause a lot of heat.

A bearing getting this hot would have locked up rock solid in a few moments. I am going with the caliper on this one.

Thanks turdle. I'm hoping its the seal, because I just got new brakes and rotorrs.

What do you think a mechanic woudl charge?

Thanks turdle. I'm hoping its the seal, because I just got new brakes and rotorrs.

The fluid leak is only on the one side and it is black fluid not a grease. I could see fluid coming out of the differential at the CV axle.

Did you have any of the noise or grinding before the brake job? You might want to take the tire off and carefully inspect both sides of the rotor to see if it has any scoring on it. Mistakes do happen and those front pads fit on backwards with horrible noise and damage to the rotor when driven.

That black slimy oil is gear oil. Nothing else quite smells like it. Even the smallest leak will coat everything under there when you drive. A shop should charge around an hour labor to remove the half axel and replace the seal.

When I did the hub and cv replacement, the rotor was pristine and the shoes were in good shape. And, no the noise was not there prior to the brake job, but the brake job was some time ago. The noise only seemed to happen in the last week. I did have a jarring experience right before it started. I live in New Orleans and travel across a 24 mile long bridge over a lake. Great road, BUT, if you get a flat you can NOT stop. If you do, the motorist assistance or bridge cops push you to the next turn around. In my case, I had a rear blow out and drove it three miles until the 15 inch rim became a 14. Needless to say the truck felt like it was gonna shake to pieces. I didn't lose a fender like in NASCAR but if anything was gonna stress a close-to-bad seal, it would have been shaken the rest of the way.

If the seal goes bad is the issue that the fluid leaks out and the differential runs dry? (Maybe stupid question) What kind of damage could I have done? I hope a new seal(s) and new fluid helps. I do like the Mutineer and hope it can last me a bit longer. It has 156K on it now, but until this week was running great. I will bet that the front axle assembly is original equipment.

Sooo, you had a flat in the (right rear?) and now are experiencing problems in the (right front?). Could you possibly have hit something?

Left rear and trouble in the left front. When the tire went down it was gradual like I ran over a nail, but no jarring blows like a pot hole or anything. I was going 65 when it started going down and had to run it long enough for the tire to completely separate from the bead. I was strewing junks everywhere. It was the longest 3 miles of my life.