Most Common Jeep Grand Cherokee Transfer Case Problems

If your Jeep Grand Cherokee is spending more time in a workshop than traversing up in the mountains, followed by symptoms of strange sounds, flashing of 4WD warning light, and persistent fluid leakage, then for sure your transfer case needs a fix.

Knowing your transfer case problems and preventing them will help increase the lifespan of your transfer case, leading you to save a big punch on your pocket in case of complete replacement.

Therefore, in this blog, I will share all the information related to common Jeep Grand Cherokee transfer case problems, symptoms, replacement costs, and quick DIY fixes.

So, let’s get scrolling…

Also Read: 5 Worst Jeep Wrangler Years to Avoid

What is a transfer case?

The transfer case is an essential component in a four-wheel drive.

It splits power from the transmission and delivers it to each axle. This is done through a chain drive, hydraulics, or gears. 

Different types of vehicles, like all-wheel drive or part-time 4WD, have different configurations of a transfer case. While the simplest one goes for a 4WD, and a more complex transfer case is used for transmitting power in a part-time 4WD.

To make the Jeep function properly, the transfer case must work in coherence with all the other components like driveshafts, drive axles, and wheels.

Most load-carrying or off-roading vehicles depend on the gear type of transfer case as it is less noisy and more reliable.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Transfer Case Problems

Symptoms of transfer case problems Jeep Grand Cherokee

A few prominent signs arise if your transfer case is not functioning correctly.

1: Odd sounds

Jeep Grand Cherokee transfer case noise like whining, gurgling, or squeaking is one of the significant signs of a faulty transfer case. It may occur due to worn-out or broken gears.

2: 4WD warning light pops up

When the 4WD warning light flashes on the dashboard, it indicates something is wrong with your Jeep’s functioning. In this case, you can use an OBDII scanner for problem diagnosis or go to a mechanic.

3: Fluid leakage

Jeep Grand Cherokee transfer case fluid leakage is another symbol that indicates the system. It may be due to any hose rupture or loss of fluid pressure.

4: Trouble long-term staying in 4WD

Continuous engagement or disengagement of the 4WD gear is a prominent symptom of a transfer case issue. This may be due to a broken part, leaking fluid, or a faulty seal.

Most common Jeep Grand Cherokee problems

If your Jeep Grand Cherokee is facing any of these issues, then a bad transfer case might be a backlog problem behind all these.

1: Gear shifting issues

Transmission fluid plays an important role in the gear shifting of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. When the fluid level decreases, odd sounds are heard.

Since a transmission fluid is responsible for lubricating the drive chain and gear while keeping the working temperature low.

If the fluid level decreases, odd noises become audible due to excessive friction of mechanical parts resulting in a bad transfer case.

2: Loud clunking noise

Clunking and banging noise is another transfer case problem that you might encounter. These noises are most audible while accelerating or shifting in or out from the 4WD.

In this case, first, you need to check the transfer case fluid level; if that is fine, investigate for any broken linkage.

3: Transfer chain stretch

Chain stretch is easily understandable through the example of a bicycle. The chain slips out of the sprocket often, leaving the bicycle stranded mid-way.

Similarly, the transfer case chain in a Jeep Grand Cherokee suffers the same chain stretch, due to which the vehicle starts stalling or delays change in driving modes.

Mostly, this chain stretch is due to a broken linkage or slip of a sprocket.

4: Damaged transfer case

Transfer case and its components tolerate maximum strain, due to which sometimes it breaks. 

Although the transfer cases are made of metals like magnesium or other aluminum alloys, the transfer case is still damaged after undergoing challenging off-road conditions. Transmission fluid leaks away, followed by a complete seizing of the engine.

5: Broken vacuum lines

Vacuum lines are responsible for shifting from two to four-wheel and reverse. If the vacuum lines wear off or get broken, the transfer case cannot create a vacuum. Ultimately the transfer case suffers a loss in generating power.

Also Read: 500+ Cool, Creative and Catchy Jeep Names for Enthusiasts

How to fix a faulty transfer case?

Fixing a faulty transfer case is more challenging than the headline might look. For this, you need to be a mechanically inclined person who loves watching how stuff works.

Besides, if you can DIY your faulty transfer case, first observe and replace the defective parts. Check the broken seals and replace them if they are damaged. Also, refill the transmission fluid.

Sometimes the condition of the transfer case is beyond repair as the parts are severely damaged or broken. In such a case, we must replace the whole housing and the mechanical parts. Suppose we continue using the same faulty transfer case. In that case, it will put pressure on the transmission leading to a decreased lifespan of your Jeep.

What is the Jeep Grand Cherokee transfer case replacement cost?

The total replacement cost of a Jeep Grand Cherokee Transfer case ranges between $1,670 and $2,115, which includes shift motor cost, labor cost, and parts price.

This price range value is with respect to the model year of the Jeep you own.

Also Read: Jeep Grand Cherokee Panoramic Sunroof Problems [FIXED]


I hope this article guided you with all the transfer case-related queries. If you face any of the above signs, check your transfer case or inspect it yourself. If your transfer case is damaged, consider replacing it in the first place, as it is one of the integral parts of your Jeep.


What does a bad transfer case sound like?

If you face Jeep Wrangler transfer case problems, you will hear grinding, squeaking, clunking, or banging sounds. 

These sounds will be most audible while accelerating or between shifting gears. You will also need help with issues like idling or stalling.

What does a transfer case do on a Jeep Grand Cherokee?

A transfer case is responsible for splitting up power and distributing it to the front and rear axles and all four wheels. It manages the 4WD, part-time 4WD, and all 4WD on Jeep Grand Cherokee and other similar vehicles like Wrangler, Cherokee, Sport, etc.

What happens if the transfer case is low on fluid?

Low-level transmission fluid will cause significant wear and tear in the mechanical parts leading to extreme pressure on the transmission. 

Moreover, you will hear loud clunking noise indicating a low-level fluid in your Jeep, followed by overheating issues and a smoky smell.                                                                     

Can I drive my Jeep with a bad transfer case?

Driving your Jeep with a bad transfer case is the worst decision you will ever make for your Jeep. You will consequently face harmful impacts like parts damage, broken seals, idling, braking and acceleration issues, and even transmission failure.

 Therefore, driving a Jeep with a bad transfer case is not recommended. Going to a professional mechanic is best if you see any symptoms of the faulty transfer case mentioned above.

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