T-case issues | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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T-case issues


February 9, 2009
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City, State
FROM Chicago. Live in Terre Haute, IN
Year, Model & Trim Level
1996 XLT
Alrighty then, first of all, just bought a 96 Exploder XLT, and I've pretty much narrowed the issue to either the t-case or the shift motor. Anyway, here's the symptoms:

In 2HI: Plenty of vroom-vroom, but when you put it in gear (it's an automatic tranny, BTW), lots of clicking/grinding and no vehicular motion, (switches to Leon Phelps voice) or what we, in thientific thircleth, refer to ath wangular futility.

Same for 4HI and 4LO.

Thoughts, anyone?

I'm in the process of removing the t-case, and will post more info once I crack it open.



Edit: Also, forgot to mention that once you put it in gear, when you put it back into park, you can hear the clicking/grinding continue as the torque converter? winds down. Not sure if that's the same issue or a different one.

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Your transfer case's shift fork is stuck at the edge of the Neutral zone right before it engages the next set of gear -- either LO range on one end or HI range on the other (its somewhere in between these two extremes).

The noise you hear when you switch from Drive to Park is the transmission getting damage because its output shaft has not stopped rotating yet because the transfer case is in Neutral -- and you stepping on the brakes, or the fact that the vehicle is not moving, does not stop the output shaft of the transmission (due to again the disconnect in the transfer case being in Neutral). In this situation, when you want to turn off the vehicle while in [D]rive, turn off the engine first and wait a few seconds for the transmission to completely stop rotating, and then put the vehicle in [P]ark.

Depending on the damage done to the gaers, more than likely you will have to replace or get the transfer case rebuilt because beside the shift fork location problem, you have probably grinded down some of the planetary gear set's teeth and the engaging gear.

Yeah, I was kind of figuring on a full rebuild, and I was actually going to do it whether or not it needed it, since it's got 218k on it, and since I'll have it apart, anyway. Thanks for the reply, and as I said, I'll keep everyone posted. I'll be finishing up the t-case yank and crack tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday). Could it be anything with the shift motor that caused the fork to become stuck?


Aaaaaaaaaalrighty, then. Sorry about the delay, but I finally have it cracked open, and here's what I have:

Shift fork nylon guides are completely gone, AND there's a chunk missing out of one of the "heads" (circled in yellow):


Okaaaaay, for some reason, the yellow isn't showing up, but it's missing out of the left-hand head.

The pump is pretty much trashed; the filter has collapsed in on itself:


And the main cause of it all? Water. Water in the T-case. ALWAYS good for moving mechanicals. Keeps it clean. Seriously, though, when I went to remove the vent tube, it broke in half (you can see it laying underneath the shift fork in the pic). I'm pretty sure that's where the water got in. The top half of the case looks like this:


For some reason, the bottom half of the case won't upload from my phone, but it pretty much looks like the top half as far as the muck is concerned.

Anyway, Glaciers write-up was completely invaluable to me and provided no end of help during this troubling time for me. Thanks, Glacier!

His thread:


How are the clutches? They are probably shot with water in there.

Actually, the clutch pack looks okay. It's dirty, but it appears to be in decent condition. Same with the planetary gear set! WOOOHOOO! So my plan is basically just to replace the three parts that need it; shift fork, pump, and motor, at least for now, because I only plan to use it as a daily driver for the time being.

Okay, so, transfer case rebuilt and installed. Now I have new symptoms:

Vehicle does not come out of park even when you move the gearshift, yet the shift lever on the transmission IS moving with the gearshift (automatic tranny).

O/D OFF light flashes.

Other than those two symptoms, everything else seems to be in working order. (Yes, I checked the fluid level...the tranny was about a quart low, so I put another quart in and same symptoms.)

Any thoughts? Right now I'm thinking a tranny rebuild. Also, I looked on the sticky for the Tranny models by year/code, and my door code says "T" for the trans, which means I either have a 4R44E or a 4R55E. How do I tell the difference, or does it matter when ordering parts?


Decided NOT to put the money into it, but decided to sell it as a parts or repair vehicle instead. Was going to post my eBay listing in the For Sale thread, but since I'm not an Elite Explorer...

If anyone's interested, my eBay username is puddlepirate72

Thanks and good luck.

Yet another change in plans. Vehicle didn't sell, and my buddy, who is a mechanic, very strongly feels that it's the torque converter. I just got a rebuilt/upgraded TC off of eBay, and once it's delivered, he's going to help me put it in. I'll post here when it's done and what the result is.

Parting it out. I'm stealing the rear end, tires, rims, and backseat. If anyone else wants parts, make me an offer. I'll ship small and easy-to-get-to parts, but if it's large or difficult to remove, you'll have to come pull it yourself. Just send me an email here if you're interested.