How to test transfer case shift motor [with Symptoms & replacement cost]

What happens if the transfer case shift motor fails?

 If the transfer case shift motor fails, you may experience trouble in selecting the 4WD or 4H mode, or difficulty in switching from 4WD to AWD and vice versa. This can lead to an issue with the rear differential if both parts are mechanically linked. When this happens, your AWD system would no longer function appropriately and need the replacement of either the transfer case or even the differential itself.

how to program transfer case control module

When the mechanical system of this transmission is affected, the serious consequences may include the front axle, rear axle, the steering position and steering angle being out of normal range.

The goal of this article how to test transfer case shift motor is to show you what to look for as symptoms that there is something wrong with your transfer case output shaft seal. This will help you determine whether or not you need to have it repaired or replaced.

Transfer case shift motor symptoms

four wheel drive transfer case
  • Gear shifting issues and 4wd issues are common in cars with a transfer case.
  • Leaking fluid can cause electrical issues.If fluid is leaking under vehicle, it will likely cause electrical issues such as a burning smell, smoke, dimming lights and illuminated check-engine light.
  • Grinding, humming or growling noise coming from the front of your Tucson
  • Puddle Formation Directly Under the Transfer Case’s Location.
  • The 4WD warning light may come on
  • Difficult shifting between high and low ratios, which usually involves either grinding gears or the shift feeling “notchy.”

What is transfer case shift motor?

The transfer case shift motor is a small electric motor, and the transfer case itself is an essential system component that plays an important role in distinguishing 4WD and AWD vehicles.

transfer case shift motor replacement

Transfer Case Shift Motor is used for transfer case shift motor in 4WD/AWD transmission for the car. It can activate the various modes of the 4WD/AWD system. When the transfer case fails, you will find it difficult to stay in 4WD, or unable to go from 4WD to AWD, and in rear situations, it’ll affect the rear differential since they are mechanically connected.

In most cases, this involves moving clutch packs, brake bands and other parts in order to engage or disengage the front axle drivetrain from the rear axle drivetrain. This means that in the low range, both drivetrain sets can rotate at the same time, while if you are in the high range, only one set may rotate at a time. The transfer case requires lubrication and has grease fittings that should be greased with silicone grease.

The transfer case shift motor on your Jeep Grand Cherokee operates through a small gear or chain system to change the semi-locked mode of your four-wheel drive system into a fully locked axle.

Summary Transfer Case definition

The transfer case is a continuously variable transmission (CVT) used in automotive applications. The transfer case is a rugged device designed to bridge the gap between an automobile’s transmission and its driveshaft. It also takes care of power distribution between the front and rear axle. A transfer case is generally composed of several gears, bearings, chains and electronic sensors. Since they are designed to support the engine loads in all driving conditions, they have higher torque capacities than any other transmission parts.

What does the transfer case motor do?

A transfer case shifter motor is responsible for the functions of your sport utility vehicle to switch from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive. Over time, continuous use of your SUV can cause wear and tear to the transfer case itself, requiring replacement.

Installing a replacement transfer case motor is one of the easiest ways to avoid an expensive replacement cost. For an idea of how much does it cost to replace a transfer case motor, let get some idea.

Dorman 600-910 transfer case motor:

Dorman 600-910 Transfer Case Motor

Dorman’s transfer case motor is manufactured to meet or exceed the original equipment it is replacing. This Dorman transfer case motor is a sturdy, quality-crafted design factory-style replacement part.

Designed to meet or exceed OE standards, they install easily with the same wiring connections, gaskets, fasteners and fluid applications as the original parts. It has been made with durability and performance in mind to match the original part’s specifications and fitment. This is an electrical component that has been test-fitted for easy installation.

BMW X3 transfer case motor

Transfer Case Shift Actuator 4WD for 2003-2010 E53 X5 E83 X3

High quality and competitive price make it win much favor with its wonderful performance. It is manufactured to precise tolerances and designed to provide years of trouble free operation.

Fit for:

BMW with ATC400, ATC500, ATC700 Transfer Case

  • E83 2003-2010
  • E53 2003-2005
  • E70 2006-2009
  • 2004 – 2010 BMW X3
  • 2004 – 2010 BMW X3
  • 2003 – 2004 BMW X5 3.0i
  • 2004 BMW X5 4.4i
  • 2004 BMW X5 4.8is
  • 2005 – 2006 BMW X5

Transfer Case Motor for ford

Dorman 600-805 Transfer Case Motor

This direct replacement transfer case motor from Dorman fits select Ford models and performs like the original motor that came with your vehicle. It maintains the same durability as a factory-part, but at a great price! This transfer case motor is made with factory-style electrical connectors and a weathertight seal, to prevent corrosion. It has been tested to ensure quality and fit, so you can purchase it with confidence.

Transfer case motor F150- for Ford F-150 2012-2014 Expedition 2012-2017

Transfer Case Motor for Ford F-150 2012-2014 Expedition 2012-2017

This transfer case shift actuator motor ONLY fits F-150 2012-2014, not compatible with other models of F Series and for Expedition 2012-2017.

This transfer case shift motor and actuator is constructed with a built-in bearing inside the body, which makes it durable and strong.

How to change transfer case motor in Ford F-150 + diagnostics

Dodge transfer case shift motor connector

Dorman 600-936 Transfer Case Shift Motor

Dorman 600-936 Transfer Case Shift Motor

This is a 100% new durable construction, vehicle-specific application has been validation tested to ensure quality, including a weathertight seal to prevent corrosion and made with a factory-style electrical connector to prevent hazardous spark. This direct-fit replacement motor is designed to install easily without any modifications to your existing cable harness.

Transfer case motor replacement cost 

So, How much does it cost to replace a transfer case motor? A transfer case motor replacement is necessary when the transmission in your 4×4 is broken. When a transfer case motor fails, it interrupts the continuous sending of power to all four wheels. If your transfer case motor is not functioning properly, you will feel vibrations throughout the car when accelerating or slowing down. A transfer case motor replacement costs between $50 and $800 depending on the brand of the component, and what vehicle you have.

What are the symptoms of a bad transfer case motor

How do I know if my transfer case shift motor is bad? So, let check transfer case shift motor problems.

transfer case shift motor repair

There are several symptoms that could indicate your transfer case motor is bad. Most of the time, a bad transfer case motor is the most common and simple to fix the problem.

 1. Transfer case output shaft seal failure

Transfer case output shaft seal failure is a common problem with transfer cases. The output shaft seal provides a barrier between the transfer case fluid and the vehicle’s drivetrain fluid. When the seal wears out, the transfer case fluid can leak into the vehicle’s drivetrain fluid resulting in shift and driveline problems.

2. Issues staying in 4WD

If you suddenly have issues staying in 4WD, it can be due to several different problems. One of the most common is a bad motor pump, but the transfer case failure could be a sign of something more serious.

When the drive train or axle shaft fails, the transfer case motor is not driven by the front differential, effectively causing it to fail. Many people are unaware that their transfer case drives the front axle until they encounter a 4WD failure.

To check for this issue you’re going to want to start by checking the fluid level on your dipstick. If 4WD still doesn’t engage, your vehicle may a timing issue and will need to be towed.

3. Growling, or grinding noise:

A bad transfer case motor may make these grinding, growling noises, click-clacking sounds and strange vibrations. It’s time for you to bring in a transfer case motor replacement when any of the following occur: The humming, growling, or grinding noise gets louder.

 It occurs when the speed of the vehicle is slower than normal, at around 20 miles per hour or less.

It could be due to low fluid level or mechanical damages such as damaged gears, loose chains, or bad bearings.

1. Loose chains

2. Dead battery

3. Shifting problems

4. Loose transfer-case mounting bolts

5. Worn axle shaft

4. Puddle buildup/transfer case leak

Leaks in transfer cases can be caused by a variety of issues. Typically you will find that leaks around the front and rear seal are hard to spot when you first inspect them. The real issue may not be visible until you begin to notice a greasy or oily buildup under the vehicle.

A puddle of oil under your car could mean a bad transfer case motor.

1. Find the transfer case or transfer case motor on your truck.

2. Also look at the front and rear axles and make sure that they are covered in oil and not leaking.

To do a manual check, put some oil on your index finger and run it over the cover of the transfer case to feel for any grease or oil residue.

5. 4WD high or low, poor or jerky 4WD engagement

Electrical faults may prevent the transfer case from shifting between the different modes. Overheated shift solenoids can cause 4WD not to engage or disengage properly. Excessive clunking in the four-wheel drive system.

As mentioned above, if you experience any of the above symptoms it may be time for you to replace your transfer case output shaft seal.

6. Grinding or loud noises when shifting gears

Gear-shifting issues are also a telltale red flag that the transfer case needs a replacement.


1. Disconnect the battery before working on the transfer case or doing any other repairs.

2. Ensure that all wiring connections on the shift control panel are tight and clean.

3. Troubleshoot the vehicle’s computer system for any error codes relating to the transfer case.

Ford F250 transfer case shift motor problems

Ford transfer case motor problems- Commonly, if the transfer case doesn’t communicate with the front and back ends of your ford 250 properly, you’ll hear grinding or growling noises when gear shifting. Also, if it’s time to replace your truck but this is something that can wait since it’s still working fine, it may be time to consider a replacement.

The solution: Draining the oil and removing the cover, you can check the level of the fluid and determine if it’s too low or contaminated with impurities that cause a rumbling sound in the transfer case. If you find proper fluid level, remove the chain that drives all 4 wheels to check if there are any damages.

How to align transfer case motor

The most important to check the indicator lights flashing is a sign that the transfer case TCCM (Transfer Case Control Module) has lost communication with the TC encoder ring inside the TC shift motor. This is more than likely caused by some sort of wiring issue or poor connection at either the TC MCM (Motor Control Module), TC TCCM or TC shift motor.

There are a couple of things you can check. First, make sure that the transfer case is in N (neutral).

Second, make sure the shift motor actuator cable is connected to the shift motor.

Third, check to make sure that the pinion shaft has a couple of splines engaged with the transfer case input shaft and that both are turning when you turn the transfer case input shaft by hand.

If everything looks good in those areas then try checking for voltage at the plug on the shift motor where it plugs into the TCCM. You should have 5 volts present when it’s in neutral and not grounded.

How to bench test transfer case motor

You can also remove the motor and bench test it. In order to bench test the transfer case, the motor do the following-

Using a multimeter, check for 200 Ohms in resistance between the orange and yellow wires. If there is no potential difference, there might be a problem with your transfer case motor. If you get a reading, it’s good. If you don’t get a reading, your motor has a problem and needs to be replaced.

If the resistance is too high or too low, then there might be something wrong with your multimeter or there is something wrong with your transfer case motor. A reading of more than 2.2 kOhms indicates that your transfer case motor has failed.*

If you get an open circuit when testing the resistance on the transfer case motor wire harness, this indicates that either your wiring harness has failed or that one of the wires going into your transfer case motor has failed.

To make sure that your transfer case motor has good contact with the gear, spray some WD-40 on the metal teeth of your transfer case.

It is important to have a fluid drain plug in place before you start to run your vehicle because there are fluids that needs draining from the transfer case and differentials. For your convenience, we have listed out some of them:

Transfer Case Fluid: Transfer cases are filled with fluid that needs changing every once in a while when contaminated or for maintenance purposes.

Differential Fluid: Differential fluid also needs changing after some time as harmful particles may get deposited inside them which may lead to differential failure or poor shifting.

Brake Fluid: Brake fluid needs changing at regular intervals because of wear and tear.

Transfer case actuator motor

 A transfer case actuator is an electric motor that performs the shifting function in a four-wheel drive (4WD) transfer case. The transfer case also houses other components of the 4WD system, such as the center differential, output shaft and front/rear drive shafts.

It allows the vehicle to change from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive in order to accommodate changing road and trail conditions. The actuators utilize sensors to determine when and how fast a transfer case change must take place, under split-second timing. Transfer cases have been used for decades and are common today in both off-road vehicles like pickup trucks and SUVs and on-road vehicles like some trucks and many full-sized cars.

Transfer case control module

 The Transfer Case Control Module (TCCM)is a multifunctional control module that drives the electronically shifted transfer case system with the engine running. The TCCM receives information from the dashboard-mounted mode selector buttons and processes it to apply a shift. Also features 4-wheel drive low and high range indicators on the dash panel.

One of the most common causes for transfer case failure is the internal components wearing out. When this happens and symptoms are persistent, the replacement of internal parts is the best option.


How do i know if my transfer case shift motor is bad?

  • A warning message or light on the dashboard
  • No power to transfer case shift motor

Other symptoms:

Four-wheel drive (4WD) service message

If diagnosing a system having this type of message, have the vehicle scanned with a diagnostic scanner. If the scan tool confirms codes related to TCCM, check it. If module checks out okay, replace the button pack or encoder motor. If the message persists or if you’re getting an error code on your dashboard and/or the shift selector is stuck in a position, it might mean that your transfer case control module is bad.


While the transfer case shift motor is not very prone to wear, there are instances when it can fail and your vehicle’s AWD system would no longer function. In such a case, you will have to get the transfer case replaced or repaired in order for it to work properly again.

This article provides full instruction about how to test transfer case shift motor for people who have a truck or SUV.

 We believe the goal of this article has been achieved, as it explains in detail what you should look for if you suspect that your transfer case shift motor has failed, so that you can determine whether or not it requires replacement or repair.

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