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[3 Causes Explained] Ford F150 Transfer Case Problems With Ultimate Solution!

Ford F150 Transfer Case Problems

A transfer case is directly connected with the power system of vehicles that have a four-wheel system. Yes, It works like a champ when it comes to dividing the power between the important parts of your vehicle.

But the bad news is- sometimes, the transfer cases malfunction and result in some unwanted situations.

So, you must have a crystal clear idea about the Ford F150 Transfer Case problems and how to solve them.

Luckily, you are in the right place because this article will cover the common problems, the reasons behind them, and the easiest way to troubleshoot them. So, ready to dive in? 

How Does a Ford F150 Transfer Case Work?- Basic Understanding

Before we delve into the problems, let’s have a basic knowledge of the transfer case functionalities. It will let you understand the malfunctions more easily.

The main task that a transfer case does is to divide the power between the front and the rear axles of your vehicle.

In the first place, the transfer case receives the power from the transmission, and then sends the power to the rear axle.

Then, it divides the power between the rear axle and the front axle. This process offers more traction when your vehicle deals with snow, mud, and other slick surfaces.

And, when the vehicle needs to shift between the system modes (from 2WD to 4WD) to speed up, you can speed it up either manually or with a selector switch.

What the switch does here is, sends the power to an electric transfer case shift motor which will shift the transfer case from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive.

However, if you drive F-150 instead of the old versions like F-250 or F-350, you will always find a switch on your dash for activating your 4WD ford.

Since we are done with the surface level talks, we can move onto ford f-150 transfer case problems now.   

A Quick Overview to Transfer Case Issues and The Reasons Behind Them

Gear shifting issues, reddish type of fluid on the ground, humming noises from the engine compartment  Transmission Fluid Leakage
Humming, rattling, or growling that changes with the speed of the vehicle.Pinholes on the transfer case, a loose chain, bad bearings, damaged gears
Facing difficulty while staying in 4WD, 4wd not engaging or disengaging, embarrassing noiseDamaged encode motor

Ford F150 Transfer Case Problems- Explained!

We will discuss here the most common reasons behind the issues and how you can solve them using DIY hacks.

Problem-01: Transmission Fluid Leakage

Leaks are one of the culprits that lead you to have a problematic transfer case.

But how can you determine that your ford is facing nothing but transmission fluid leakage? Here are some symptoms that indicate a low fluid level.

  • Gear shifting issues
  • Reddish type of fluid on the ground
  • Humming noises from the engine compartment

In these cases, you can be sure that there’s a problem with the fluid level. However, humming noise can also occur for other mechanical problems (pin it for later, we’ll discuss it in detail).

Now, you may be curious about how things work here.

Well, you will notice a seal in the transfer case that prevents the transmission fluid from spilling and creating a mess. But the problem arises when this seal doesn’t work properly. This fluid won’t transmit where it’s needed to. It may result in a problematic transfer case.

However, when you’re in doubt about leakage, you must be sure about it. To be so, these are the very first steps you should take:

  • To raise your vehicle, use a floor jack & jack stands
  • Find the transmission case by crawling underneath your car
  • Take a container and place it underneath the fill plugs
  • Pull the fill plugs

Now, notice if the liquid is coming out. If you see it coming out, then the bad news is, the transmission doesn’t work anymore which leads the transmission fluid to come out.

To fix this irritating issue, you need to replace the seal inside your transfer case. But hey, it’s just the opposite of how complicated you think it is. Here you go with an easy explanation to do the job.

Things You’ll Need

Manage the things below before you get started.

  • A floor jack & jack stands to raise your vehicle
  • An impact gun for taking apart the bolts on the driveshaft
  • A rag for wiping off the residue inside when you’ll pull out the seal
  • A hammer to remove the seal
  • RTV and oil to install a seal
  • A marker to mark the ways to where everything goes

Step 1: Raise Your Vehicle

Jacking up the vehicle will make everything easy to manage when you’ll work on the transfer case.

So, first thing first, raise your vehicle and get underneath it. Stay there and put the vehicle in neutral as you can turn the driveshaft. Now, use a marker for drawing a line on the driveshaft. It will make it easy when you’ll put it back on.

Step 2: Get Rid of The Driveshaft

It’s time to remove the driveshaft as well as do some cleaning.

Hold the driveshaft and remove the bolts using the impact gun. Once you’re done removing the driveshaft, carefully pull the seal out using a screwdriver.

After that, place the screwdriver on the seal’s backside and then, use a hammer to tap the screwdriver. Clean inside properly to get rid of the bulk inside.

Step 3: Install the New Seal

The last step is to install the new seal.

There’s a rubber part inside every transfer case. You need to add oil to that rubber part first. Then, go for the metal part and add some RTV to it. Put the seal inside carefully and use a hammer to hit it until it’s perfectly attached inside.

Once done, put your driveshaft back on.

So, you have solved one type of issue with the transfer case. Let’s move on to the other types.

Problem-02: Pinholes in The Transfer Case

The reason which we should be concerned about the most is the pinholes on the transfer case. About the rest, you can simply collect rebuild kits that contain a new chain and the front half of the case.

Then, replace the front case and the chain. But this job should be covered by a professional instead of a DIY person.

So, let’s get back to the pinholes part. We can fix them with our DIY hacks.

There is a fluid pump inside your transfer case and it moves continuously to keep things normal. But if you hear a humming or rattling noise from the transfer case, things are not normal. If this is the situation, replace the half case.

Finding the holes are generally easy because they are found on the top of the transfer case most times. However, sometimes, you may need some more time to find the holes. So, examine carefully.

Once you are sure that you need to replace the case half because you’ve found the holes, let’s see what’s the solution.

Things You’ll Need

These tools are needed for the job:

  • Flathead screwdriver to release one tab
  • Pry bars for taking the case half out
  • A floor jack & jack stands to jack up your vehicle
  • A hammer to pull things out
  • A bucket to avoid any mess related to spills
  • Impact gun or 10mm, 18mm, 19mm wrench to remove the bolts
  • A 15mm socket to remove one specific bolt of the transfer case

Step 1: Jack Up Your Vehicle

As always, make things easier for you by raising your vehicle with a floor jack and jack stands. After that, find carefully where the transfer case is. Then, place the bucket under the fill plugs.

Step 2: Disassemble the Bolts

The first thing you’re asked to do is to disconnect the battery. Then, put your vehicle in neutral. After that, use an impact gun and get rid of the bolts from the driveshaft. 

Now, it’s time to get rid of the transmission cross member of your vehicle. You should remove the nuts first and then the bolts from each side of the transmission. 

Step 3: Disassemble the Front Shaft

Start the third step by removing the front driveshaft. Take the bolts out with a wrench and then pull off the transmission mount.

Step 4: Take the Connector Apart

The connector we want you to remove operates the encoded motor of your vehicle. The motor lets you switch from 2WD to 4WD.

Since you have access to the electrical motor, use a flathead screwdriver for releasing the tab. Then, get rid of the tube and nuts that keep the transfer case attached. 

Step 5: Remove the Top Part of the Transfer Case

Start by removing the snap ring grommet from your transfer case. Take the output shaft speed sensor apart using a 19mm wrench. There, you’ll find the factory drain plugins, remove them with an 18mm wrench.

Next, remove all the bolts from your transfer case using a 10mm socket. As we said before, you’ll need a 15mm socket for removing the last bolt. Now, pull out the transfer case using pry bars.

When you pull out the top, put the flathead screwdriver inside the speed sensor hole and lift it up. Now, you can easily take off the top of your transfer case.

Step 6: Install the New Case Half

Take the new case and place it over the new shaft. Then, line it up on the dowels. While lining it up, be sure it’s squishing down perfectly. Next, tap on the case with a hammer.

Use the pliers and the flathead screwdriver for locking the new case in half. Then, reinstall the case bolts and the brackets. Tighten down all the bolts and reinstall the drain plugs. Replace the speed sensor then.

Before you install the shaft ring grommet, make sure you have installed the bearing correctly.

This is it. Let’s see what the next problem is.  

Problem-03: Damaged Encode Motor

As we said before, the shift motor helps your vehicle to switch backward and forward between 2WD and 4WD modes. To keep things normal, the motor must work properly. But if it fails, issues like difficulty staying in 4WD, 4WD not engaging, or disengaging may occur.

So, it’s important to examine the motor and if there’s any problem, replace it.

If you were wondering how to test the transfer case shift motor, here you go.

Things You’ll Need

  • Jack upstands
  • Impact gun
  • A test light (Ohm would be preferable)

Step 1: Remove the Motor

First thing first, jacks up the vehicle using jack stands. Look for the transfer case motor. You will find it easily because it’s similar to a window motor and it’s found on the rear of the transfer case.

You will notice that there are 3 to 4 bolts holding the motor. Use an impact gun and remove the bolts. After that, unplug the wiring connectors.

Finally, remove the motor and get ready to carry out the test.

Step 2: Use the Test Light 

Look closely at the actuator and see where the yellow and orange wires are. These two wires are supposed to go into the motor. Now, set the volt of your Ohm to 200 ohms. Put the probes on the yellow and the orange wires.

There should be a result somewhere between 2.2 and 2.7. Otherwise, the shift motor is faulty.

If you are having a damaged motor, you should go for a new one. Since the motor is the life of the transfer case, no risk should be left here.

So, we are done talking about the reasons behind the most common Ford F150 transfer case problems. But in case you couldn’t find here the exact issue you’re facing for your transfer case, then you may need to replace your transfer case in no time. 

A Helpful Tutorial For F150 Owners!

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

Can you drive with a broken transfer case?

Yes, you can drive with a broken transfer case. But you can’t use your vehicle as a 4WD, it would be a 2WD vehicle. However, we don’t recommend driving with a broken transfer case as there are chances to damage the vehicle. 

What happens when a transfer case goes bad?

You cannot use the 4WD (four-wheel drive) when your transfer case goes bad. You may ask ‘what about 2WD?’. Well, you can drive in 2WD but we don’t recommend it because it’s quite dangerous.

Can a bad transfer case cause vibration?

Yes, a bad transfer case can cause excessive vibration.

What noise can a bad transfer make?

A bad transfer can make a grinding noise when you switch from 2WD to 4WD.

Is the transfer case the same as transmission?

No it’s not. Transmission is the power supplier of the transfer case.


Thanks for still being with us! Since we tried our best to cover the Ford F150 transfer case problems along with the useful solutions, hopefully, you’ve got your desired information from here.

So, go and fix the problem you’ve been facing with your transfer case. Good luck!

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James Noah

Ah! Driving your King has no twist when you have zero knowledge! Yes, Noah is here with his core experiences about trucks, cars, suvs and atvs. Working as a cheif editor for Automasterx to make you satisfied with solid data driven post.

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