Drive only in 4WD Low. Grinding from T/Case | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

  • Register Today It's free!

Drive only in 4WD Low. Grinding from T/Case


New Member
July 22, 2014
Reaction score
Year, Model & Trim Level
1998 XLT 4.0
We've just been gifted a 1998 XLT (Auto with the 4.0 6 Cyl engine) for sons first car. Picking it up there was much consternation that the vehicle wouldn't drive. Eventually managed to get the vehicle to engage 4wd Low (according to the dash light) and enabled driving it home (definitely 4WD but possibly high ratio). Kept the wheels bouncing and steering slow and even to prevent and release any torque-windup.

1. Grinding from T/Case when attempting to select any drive gear on column shift (4wd selector set to Auto). No Drive.
2. Clunk and slight jolt in vehicle when selecting 4WD Low on electronic dash switch. No Grinding now from t/case when selecting gears from column shift. Drive seemingly 4WD High, 4WD Low light illuminated on Dash.

I've read as much as possible on these forums (even about the brown wire mod and rebuilding the shift motor) but haven't found anything which seems to relate to being unable to drive in 2WD.

What I've tried:

Jacked up rear end - rotated r/h wheel and watch l/h wheel counter-rotate. (99% confirmed rear halfshafts/differential action).
Checked for rear propshaft being fitted. checked for massive play at transfer case output. All seemed OK.
Managed to select 4WD Low again and drove it onto a set of ramps, watched for wheel-spin at rear wheels, confirming drive to rear wheels.

At this point i'm running out of all my natural tests for 4WD operation (Previous experience on landrovers and they tend to deal in lumps of metal and levers for 4WD operation)

At this stage I'm assuming that either there's a problem with the shift motor (even though it seems to just be related to Lo/Hi Ratio selection) or that there's an electric fault in the t/case in relation to the electromagnet engagement but i can't seem to find much information on that subject.

Any help greatly appreciated for this newbie in the world of Explorers.


*Proud owner of the most Useful Haynes Manual in the world... :salute:

You will need to rebuild or replace the transfer case. Not the shift motor. Very common failure point.

there's a couple of guys in the UK that part them out regularly, it's not a big job, you just need a 98 case,

good luck n welcome!