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Transfer Case Replacement Cost

Know what price you should pay to get your vehicle fixed.

Transfer Case Replacement
The average cost for a Transfer Case Replacement is between $1629 and $5082. Labor costs are estimated between $237 and $655 while parts are priced between $1392 and $4427. Estimate does not include taxes and fees.
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Transfer Case Replacement

What is a Transfer Case Assembly?

Transfer cases are aptly named in that their function is to transfer power from the transmission output shaft, to the differentials. This function could be considered like a splitter for the transmission because the transfer case accepts the single shaft from the transmission and distributes power from that shaft to two individual driveshafts. There is much more, however, since the transfer case on modern vehicles can change the amount of power sent to the front and rear wheels, and many transfer cases are able to electronically shift from four-wheel drive to two-wheel drive.

How does the Transfer Case Assembly work?

As the transmission output shaft spins, splines on that shaft are turning the input shaft for the transfer case. That provides rotational power to the transfer case, which is then distributed to the output shaft by one of two sets of gears. One set of gears will drive only the rear wheels, and the other set of gears will drive only the front wheels. The rear wheels will always be connected, so the switching will only lock in the front wheels. Transfer cases have a locking function as well, and this allows the front and rear wheels to turn at the same speed regardless of the load on each wheel. Again, there is more, since many transfer cases have two speeds - hi and lo. These are typically selected electronically through a transfer case shift motor the same as four-wheel or two-wheel drive is selected. Modern transfer cases have the added benefit of torque vectoring. This function allows a percentage of power from the transmission to be sent to the front or rear wheels on demand.

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What are the symptoms of a bad Transfer Case Assembly?

Transfer case failure for older models of vehicles is typically denoted by failure to shift between drive modes, where modern vehicles may have the same issues, and more. Modern vehicles will see warning lights for the transfer case, traction control, and possibly anti lock brake systems, as well as any other manufacturer specific all wheel drive system warning light. All transfer cases will make the same noises when they fail. This may be a grinding, clicking, thumping, rattle, squeak or bearing howl. Some modern vehicles will reduce available engine power and prevent driving over certain speeds to protect the transfer case when problems are detected.

Can I drive with a bad Transfer Case Assembly?

Since the transfer case is essential to drive, any failure resulting in inability to operate the vehicle normally will require immediate repair. Noises from the transfer case should not be ignored. This is because a light noise may be a candidate for repair, but when the noise turns into a larger issue, replacement is almost guaranteed to be the only recourse.

How often does the Transfer Case Assemblies need replacement?

Transfer cases in some makes and models are known for frequent failure, even in the first 50,000 miles. However, this is not typical of a well maintained transfer case in a vehicle driven in a non-aggressive manner. In general, transfer case failure is going to include a leak, so preventing failure means repairing leaks before the transfer case runs dry of oil.

How are Transfer Case Assembly issues diagnosed?

Transfer case issues on modern vehicles are obvious as a scanner will identify fault codes related to the issue. The vehicle may drive normally in most instances, so the issue may have to be replicated through driving to determine the cause of the fault. When a transfer case is obviously mechanically damaged, it must be removed, disassembled, checked against specifications, and diagnosed as repairable or not.

How are Transfer Case Assemblies replaced?

When the transfer case has failed, it must be removed by, first, draining the oil from the transfer case, removing the driveshafts, and disconnecting the transfer case input from the transmission output shaft. Electronic connections must be removed, and the transfer case will be supported by a transmission jack before removing the transfer case mounting bolts. Replacement is the reverse of removal, and the driveshaft universal joints, transmission output shaft seal, and, if equipped, coupler will be inspected and replaced if necessary. Finally, the transfer case is filled to specification with the appropriate fluid.

RepairPal Recommendations for Transfer Case Assembly issues

Even if a transfer case issue does not cause complete failure, the vehicle should be placed out of service. This is to protect the transfer case from further damage, and provide safety for the intended occupants. If the transfer case fails during operation, the vehicle may be left permanently in neutral or the transfer case may bind. If the transfer case is malfunctioning electronically it can cause erratic shifts from high to low gear and from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive. Either situation can cause a dangerous situation while driving.

What to look out for when dealing with Transfer Case Assembly issues

Many models of vehicle, even from the same model year, will use a different transfer case than another vehicle of the same type. This is due to differences in gear ratios, engine power, and intended use for the vehicle. Before replacing a transfer case, ensure that the proper part number is ordered to avoid incompatibility.

Can I replace the Transfer Case Assembly myself?

Transfer case replacement is a large job, but a straightforward job. The biggest issue to overcome is how to remove and install the transfer case, as transfer cases can be very heavy. Diagnosing a transfer case is not typically a difficult task, but if the electronic operation of the transfer case is not understood, the transfer case may be replaced for a minor electronic issue.

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