stuck transfer case | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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stuck transfer case


New Member
October 23, 2006
Reaction score
City, State
Rockton, IL
Year, Model & Trim Level
'94 XLT
Hi everybody. I am new to the forum since I realized that my 4x4 (and low range) didn't work. I read quite a few transfer case motor rebuilt instructions and did my best to follow them. After having a few hick-ups rebuilding the motor I finally made it. When I was installing the motor back in, I noticed that I needed to turn the transfer case shaft (the one that normally points to 2H) just slightly counterclockwise (maybe 10 deg or so) in order to re-install the motor. I put everything back in and turned the key on. It turned the 4x4 light right away. I didn't even try running it since the vehicle's rear was on the ramps and front on the ground. I immediatelly took the transfer case motor off to and tried to turn the transfer case shaft with pliers. Somehow, I turned it towards 4L and then realised that I can only turn it between 4L and about 90 degrees clockwise from there. If I try turning more, I am fighting a strong spring that I can't win against.
If I leave it in 4L the vehicle is always in 4L. If I turn it by 90 deg clockwise from (which is so easy I can do it by hand) then the transfer case doesn't even engage the rear end drive shaft (all gear positions feel like neutral).

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You may need to first of all put the vehicle on a flat level surface so that it wont roll away (remove any jacks, jackstands, ramps and whatever else is obstructing the vehicle from moving forward/backwards) and put the transmission in Neutral. Then get under the vehicle and push the vehicle forward or backwards (a few inches) until the shift-rod thingy is able to go back into the 2HI mode. That takes care of the mechanical end of things -- so now onto the electrical. With the transfer case motor still removed, plug its electrical connector into the vehicle and put the in-dash switch selector to 2HI.

The shift motor and the transfer case should now be aligned together and you can then bolt the shift motor back onto the transfer case.

As for fighting a "spring" - dont fight it too hard or you will bend/break the shift fork.

Thanks a lot IZwack!

I'll try that. Only I am not sure I can fit underneeth while the vehicle is on the ground. I never tried - just assumed I had to rise it.
So, to make sure - the motor assembly is supposed to operate without being mounter onto the transfer case. Right? What I mean is, is there any feedback from the actual transfer case that permits/prevents the motor operation? By what you are saying, it seems not. Then, I am wondering what those three wires (2 + 1) that have "things" plugged into the case are. Do you know?

Thanks again.

Yes the motor assembly will operate with it physically removed from the transfer case but electrically connected to the rest of the vehicle.

ha this is sandrunner69 I am having the same problem I will let you know wat I do to get it out of 4l

I have tried last night what IZwack suggested (rolling the vehicle until it lets you turn the transfer case manually to 2H. It wouldn't go until I made 4-5 one inch moves, and then it let me turn to 2H.
As far as the motor operation, I couldn't get it to work. It seems to be slightly different than one in "the big write-up with pictures". The encoder pattern and the fingers that go over printed circuit board traces are molded in plastic so I can't get to them without braking stuf. The motor itself works fine, but the encoder that detects positions is somehow screwed up. Of course, the ring around the limit screw was broken and I fixed that. However, after playing with it for a good hour and a half, I decided to go ahead and buy a new motor on ebay.

ya I had the same thing hapen to me set it on the ground and have a frend rock it back and forth wile it is running in nutral and try to shift it manualy with some plires that worked for me and it went right in

As I said I would, I bought a new transfer case motor on ebay. It actually didn't fit right on for some reason. I needed to file of a little shoulder in order for it to fit on all the way. Maybe there is something different on Explorer 1994, or maybe this motor manufacturer (the one that "usedautopartsguy" sells) didn't do a very good job. Also, the bracked that holds the connector did not come in, so I had to use the old one. Anyway, I installed it and it worked right off.