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How often does the Viscous coupling/chain fail on the AWD V8 trucks?


1997XLTRollover

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Hey all, short story is I think my transfer case is eating up a bearing, so I have to rebuild the case since I can't find one locally that's any good. Unlucky for me my truck is a 96, so it's almost impossible to find the 4 bolt front flange case. So... stuck with a rebuild.

That said I was going to do a new chain, VC and all bearings/seals... until I found out how much it all cost. So I was thinking of doing bearings/seals only and then throwing it back together with the original VC and chain since I have no issues with my AWD, other than a slightly loose front output yolk. So my question is how often do those chains stretch and how often do the VC's fail? My truck has just under 200k miles and I'm kind of hesitant to put those parts back in unless they rarely fail as I plan on keeping it for a while. Thoughts?
 


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Mbrooks420

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In my experience the are fairly stout. I guess it all depends on the cost of the chain set and the viscous coupling, and how long you intend to keep the truck.

Can’t you just upgrade to the CV style front driveshaft?

I don’t recall where the speed sensor is in the 96...
 




1997XLTRollover

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In my experience the are fairly stout. I guess it all depends on the cost of the chain set and the viscous coupling, and how long you intend to keep the truck.

Can’t you just upgrade to the CV style front driveshaft?

I don’t recall where the speed sensor is in the 96...

Speed sensor is in my tcase I believe. I don't think the newer cases work without some modifications. I also just rebuilt my double cardon front shaft so that would require a replacement front driveshaft, which would negate the cost of just rebuilding my current case. Plus I think the double cardon is a much better design than the ball and cup setup.

Ballpark my research shows the bearing and seal kit around 100 bucks, chain around 100 bucks and the VC around 200. Rock auto sells a whole Raman case but I don't know the company and how well they rebuild plus they're $1,300 with a 400 core I'll get back when I return my old case. Just seems steep for a case going into a vehicle worth not much more than the case itself haha.
 




Mbrooks420

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General consensus here will probably be to swap to a 4406.
 




1997XLTRollover

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General consensus here will probably be to swap to a 4406.
Yeah I've thought about that, but I just rebuilt both of my driveshafts and getting into cuttings holes in the floor, finding proper driveshafts etc. is probably just not worth it. Ironically though I have a 2000 f150 parts truck with a 4406 in it. But it has 453k miles so needs a rebuild I'm sure also.
 




masospaghetti

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I thought the early 4-bolt front driveshafts were better than the later CV shafts. (although I admit the CV on mine is original at 256,000 miles, so they can't be that bad.) The 4-bolt shaft is nice because it can be rebuilt, the CV one can't, at least not easily.

If things are working I say stick with what you have. How loose is the chain? is there noticeable slop in the front driveshaft when you try and rotate it by hand? You can imagine if there's some play when you manually rotate the shaft, it will feel sloppy and loose when you apply power to it.

You can always try it with the used chain and if it feels lousy, then put a new chain in there. The 4404 case is pretty simple to take apart and it's also pretty easy to remove and reinstall. I'm not a huge guy and I was able to remove/replace the 4404 without a floor jack or anything, except obviously to raise the vehicle up to have room to work underneath.

While the 4404 doesn't have low range like the 4406, it's simpler and seems like it's more reliable. So, unless you really need the low range, I would just stick with it.
 




lorraine1

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could it be possible to take a link out of the chain? i know very little about transfer cases, probably not possible as it would be to easy ,it always is seems like.
 




410Fortune

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the awd cases can last 250-300K miles....with regular fluid changes. Or they can explode at 150K miles, without fluid changes and if they are beat on, like running a tire low often, running without a front d shaft, these things will generate heat and the lifespan is cut short

Since you have a 96 5.0 you will need to keep the speed sensor in the t case tailhousing no matter what you decide.
I would just rebuild the 4404 if you do not want to convert to a true 4x4 system

No way in heck is the AWD 4404 as strong or as reliable as the 4406 4x4 transfer case.......you said it yourself your f150 has 453K miles on it
The 4406 4x4 case is available in 3 configurations, manual shift, electric shift, and electric shift with torque on demand. I prefer the manual shift. But yes you have to cut a small hole in the floor for the shifter...I do not see this as a major modification as it can be done with a scrolling saw in just a few hours. You can get driveshafts that will 99% bolt in if you do your research. The 4x4 conversion is so much better then the 70/30 split full time AWD....well Ill just stop here, if you have researched this then you know how I feel about the AWD case vs 4406
In fact we got 6" of snow last week and our driveway is now ice (2 mile off road driveway) my stepson drives a 2002 sport trac 5.0 AWD..... he had to leave it parked at the bottom of the road because his AWD will not make "the hill" meanwhile everyone else back here that has 4x4 has been driving in and out like it was nothing.......... I am no fan of the 5.0 awd setup...it sucks power, is sucks fuel mileage and when it really counts all the power is sent to the rear axle leaving you stuck at the bottom of the hill

The 4406 was used in half ton trucks and suv behind the 302, 351, 4.6 triton and 5.4 triton... the 4406 case is much much stronger then your explorer awd unit.

the 4406 4x4 conversion is the single best upgrade you can do to a AWD 5.0 IMO, that and headers :)
If you do go 4406 you will need one with a VSS in the tailhousing (pre 98 case)

You can get a low mile 4404 awd case and use the back half from your 96 to retain the VSS, whatever you do, DO NOT get rid of your 96 case!!! EVER!!! THEY ARE GETTING VERY HARD TO FIND with the VSS sensor in them

If the VSS sensor went bye bye then you can make your trucks speedometer, abs, cruise, etc etc happy by adding a speedo correction interface and wiring it in....but that is a whole new topic.
 




1997XLTRollover

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Hey all. I just picked up a 4404 as a replacement locally but I don't have a good feeling about it. How much play should be in the chain? I stick my finger through the fill hole and the chain moves around a fair amount. Is this normal? Also should the front flange have any in and out play?
 




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normal
yes there will be a little play in and out
 




1997XLTRollover

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normal
yes there will be a little play in and out
How about the chain? It feels pretty loose to me but I'm not sure how much play is normal. It's hard to tell how much is there but I can push the chain up against the guide and then it will drop about 3/4" from there.
 




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sounds about normal
How many miles on the 4404?
 




1997XLTRollover

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sounds about normal
How many miles on the 4404?
Guy claimed 132k. Then said 120 something. So who knows. I didn't see the truck it came out of. I still plan on doing a 4406 swap but I need this thing back on the road and I couldn't pass up the deal for $30 lol
 




410Fortune

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I UNDERSTAND That! the chain does not sit in there tight, so without tearing apart a 4404 to look see I would vote RUN IT and see how it goes...
 




1997XLTRollover

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I UNDERSTAND That! the chain does not sit in there tight, so without tearing apart a 4404 to look see I would vote RUN IT and see how it goes...
Ok sending away. One more question. The seal inside the housing that sits against the trans. I guess the input shaft it would be called seems to be leaking. Is that easy to change from the outside of the case? It almost looks like I would have to pull the case apart to fix it.
 




410Fortune

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the front input shaft seal? What makes you say its leaking? I mean how do you know?

The tailhousing of the transmission will have transmission fluid in it from the transmission, the t case should stay sealed.

IN any event make sure the t case vent line is clear and the case can breathe
 




1997XLTRollover

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the front input shaft seal? What makes you say its leaking? I mean how do you know?

The tailhousing of the transmission will have transmission fluid in it from the transmission, the t case should stay sealed.

IN any event make sure the t case vent line is clear and the case can breathe
Yup first think I did was clean the vent tube. You're correct. Seal is fine. This was my first transfer case change and I wasn't aware the tail housing had fluid in it and seals to the transfer case. Case is in. Awd works properly and no leak yet. Just done a short test drive though. Highway drive will be the test to see if my vibration is gone. But the "new" case had a much tighter front output flange. Had some play but probably only half of what my factory case did. Thanks for all the help. I'll probably be on the lookout for a 4406 to sway in now, that factory case was tough to get out... I'm sure the 4406 is fun to put in
 




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I have some tricks to help you reach those top two bolts on the t case next time
First up drop the trans crossmember and lower the trans and t case 3-4" giving better access
With the right combo of 3/8" drive extensions you can get to the top two bolts from over by the exhaust.

Otherwise if you really want easy access to the top t case bolts you can pull the center console and front seats, roll the carpet back and remove the floor plate cover (Takes about 15 minutes)..... now you are looking right at the bolts.
 




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The AWD viscous clutch unit is sealed, it has fluid sealed with it. If you take the TC apart and see the VC leaking at all(it'll be black fluid), then it's bad or going to be soon. If the VC seems to be okay, and tires have always been matched, I'd reuse the VC.

The chain I found for about $90, the seals and bearings about the same. The big cost was the VC, it ran over $275 when I was buying the parts last year. So a rebuild could be a decent $200 and labor, keeping the VC it had. If it needs a VC, those are hard to get due to low demand, plus expensive.

I like the AWD on pavement the best, but the real 4WD is hands down the best on all slick surfaces. I think I'll convert one and see how it compares with some power like the other guys here.
 


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410Fortune

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once you convert one you will be like "Doh"
now I see
the whole front end gets lighter, steering effort reduced, passing power is there, the whole truck feels completely different. And then to put it in 4x4 low and see what they can do....it goes from Soccer mom suv to Truck just like that
 




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