From time to time, you’ll run into Chevy Silverado transfer case problems. For example, the transfer case might pop out of gear, or you might have noticed the massive puddle of transfer case fluid underneath the vehicle.
That said, this article covers the 8 most common problems you’ll face with the Chevy Silverado. You will also find out how you can track down the root of the problem and fix it yourself.
- 1 What Is a Transfer Case?
- 2 8 Common Chevy Silverado Transfer Case Issues
- 3 Transfer Case Replacement Cost
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- 5 Conclusion
What Is a Transfer Case?
Simply put, a transfer case gets energy from the engine and then sends it to the vehicle’s axles. When this happens, you can switch from 2WD to 4WD. Without it, you’d have to do this manually.
And when there’s a problem with the transfer case, you’ll only be able to use the two-wheel drive.
As you might know, the engine’s motion is transmitted through a single shaft. This is not a problem if you’re using the 2WD system.
But the 4WD system works differently. Instead of relying on a single shaft, it needs two different shafts to work. Hence the 4WD system needs a transfer case to work correctly.
8 Common Chevy Silverado Transfer Case Issues
Certain types of problems can be annoying to deal with. Especially anything related to the transfer case. That being said, here are eight misfires found on the Chevy Silverado:
01. Service 4WD Light Comes On
Noticed that the service 4WD light came on as you were driving? Then you might have a bad sensor. Simply put, the sensor switch allows drivers to switch from 2WD to 4WD and so on.
Without it, you would have to lock the wheel hubs manually. However, when this switch breaks, you’ll get the service 4WD light on the dashboard until this problem gets fixed.
So, there’s a good chance your transfer case is still in great shape.
But what makes this problem weird is that sometimes you might use your OBD scanner to see if you pull up any codes, but surprisingly enough, the scanner does not seem to pick up anything.
So, the only way to get rid of this annoying problem is to replace the switch itself. After getting this part replaced, the 4WD light should be gone.
02. Chevy Truck Transfer Case Noise
One minute you’re going down the road blasting your favorite song, and everything seems to be going well until you hear a terrible humming noise coming from your vehicle.
But there’s still some hope. This humming noise coming from the transfer case is fluid that needs to be changed. You should change it after 62,000 miles.
If you’ve never changed it before, chances are the culprit is the fluid. When the liquid gets too dirty, it’ll lose its ability to lubricate. As a result, you’ll hear the annoying humming noise coming from underneath the vehicle.
As expected, changing the transfer case fluid will fix the issue. Don’t worry, though. Changing this fluid is child’s play. Even if you have no previous experience, you should still be able to get through this process.
That said, here’s an excellent video for this job:
03. 4WD Does Not Work Properly
Were you going down the road this morning only to realize that the transfer case keeps popping out of gear?
Well, you might have a faulty encoder motor. When it breaks, the transfer case will continuously pop out of the 4WD.
Commonly, it’s just the sensor built into the encoder motor. Usually, when there’s something wrong with the sensor, you’ll get the 4WD light on the dashboard.
So, you’ll have to remove the front driveshaft and then pull the encoder motor. Finally, replace the sensor inside.
If that doesn’t eliminate the problem, you’ll have to replace the encoder motor itself. After getting this part replaced, your vehicle should work as intended.
04. Low Transmission Fluid
One of the most frequent Chevy Silverado transfer case issues is low transmission liquid. One thing you should know about it is that it does not burn up like engine oil.
So, it’s not like it will magically disappear overnight. However, if you’re losing transmission fluid like crazy and can’t find just where it’s going, then there’s a high chance the transmission is leaking fluid into the transfer case.
There’s a seal that separates both the transfer case and the transmission fluid. This seal keeps all these fluids from mixing together.
But if it were to get damaged, the transmission fluid would get inside the transfer case. This is especially true when towing.
So, what’s the best way to tell that this is the case? Well, if you can’t find any leaks under the vehicle and the transmission fluid is low, here’s a little test you can run to rule this out:
- Jack up the vehicle and then crawl underneath it. After that, head over to the transfer case and loosen the nut.
- If quarts and quarts of fluid are coming out as soon as you pull the fill plug, then you indeed got a damaged seal. When you take off the plug, you shouldn’t lose that much fluid.
To solve this issue, you’ll have to pull the transfer case and install a new seal. After replacing it, you shouldn’t run low on transmission fluid again.
05. Chevy Silverado Transfer Case Leak
Trying to track down a leak but can’t seem to find it no matter how much you try? Well, perhaps you have a pinhole leak on the transfer case. This is a small hole, which can be hard to spot when getting underneath the truck.
Inside the transfer case, there’s a fluid pump. This little part moves around the inner part of the transfer case. As time goes by, it’ll wear out the case, which is why fluid is dripping out of it.
To find the leak, here’s what you can do:
- First and foremost, raise the vehicle. After that, get under the car. Next up, head over to the transmission pan. If it is dry, try to find any other fluid trail.
- After that, locate the transfer case. If there’s any liquid, try to find the highest point. Usually, if the leak stops at the highest point, that’s where it’s coming from.
- That said, clean off the transfer case. After cleaning the transfer case, you should be able to spot the tiny pinhole. Keep in mind that you have to carefully look to find the hole. It is minimal, so it might take some time.
After finding the pinhole, you’ll have to replace the case half. To do this, take the transfer case apart, remove the case half and then install the new one. After that, any issue you’ve run into should be gone.
However, if you’ve determined that there’s no pinhole and the vehicle is still leaking fluid, then perhaps you have a broken tail-shaft seal.
Fortunately, this is an easy repair. Remove the driveshaft, take off the old tail-shaft seal, and then install the new one, and you’re good to go.
06. Chevy Truck Transfer Case Noise
U-joints can be a pain in the neck to deal with. If there’s something wrong with them, you’ll hear a squealing sound when switching from 2WD to 4WD. What’s more, the truck will vibrate when it is in motion.
As expected, you’ll have to replace the U-joint to get rid of the grinding noise. You should also know that it’s never a good idea to assume new parts are in great shape just because they’re new.
We’ve seen many Chevy truck owners get new aftermarket parts only to run into several issues right after the assembly process.
Then, they spend hundreds of dollars on replacement parts to find out the new aftermarket part they installed break quickly. Consider this problem if you’ve recently replaced the old U-joints.
07. My Car Will Not Come Out Of Neutral
If there’s something wrong with the encoder motor, the transfer case will not come out of neutral. To get the truck back on the road, replace the encoder motor.
However, if that doesn’t work out for you, you might have to reset the transmission control module. Keep in mind that resetting the TCM will not solve any problem with the transmission internally.
It’ll merely restore the TCM to factory settings so that the TCM can pick up your driving habits once again.
08. Damaged Transfer Chain
Finally, if the transfer case is acting up, it could be related to the transfer chain. The transfer chain does not stretch. Instead, it wears out over time.
When this happens, the transfer chain itself will come loose. As a result, shifting gears will be extremely challenging. And the truck could get stuck in one gear.
To fix this problem, replace the chain. After that, the truck should work like before. Replacing the chain is not as expensive as it might seem.
At most, you will pay $300 for a new one. It’s nowhere as expensive as replacing the transfer case itself.
Transfer Case Replacement Cost
Chevy Silverado transfer case problems can be expensive to fix. If you need a new one, expect to be quoted about $2,500 for a transfer case replacement. On average, this job takes about four hours.
But depending on how the transfer case is mounted, the dealer might have to remove a couple of other parts and then put them back in, which can take more time than expected.
Alternatively, if you’re fond of working on your own projects, you can try to rebuild the transfer case. You can find a brand-new transfer case rebuild kit for roughly $120.
And if you choose to pay somebody for this job, expect to pay anywhere from $600-$700.
Also, we suggest going to a Transtar if you live by one. They pretty much have everything you need for this.
Finally, if you choose to rebuild the transfer case, we suggest getting a good manual/diagram. There are no many parts inside. However, you can mess up pretty badly if you don’t have a proper manual.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
That was a lot of information, wasn’t it? But if there’s anything else you want to know about transfer case problems, check this section out:
What sound does a bad transfer case make?
Generally speaking, if your transfer case is not working, you’d hear a grinding /metallic sound coming from underneath the vehicle.
However, the sound could be related to the transfer case fluid. If you haven’t replaced it before, there’s a good chance it’s dirty.
What happens if the transfer case does not have fluid?
If you’re running low on transmission fluid, you’ll have a hard time changing gear. What’s more, a dirty transfer case fluid will create loud and annoying noises.
Can I drive with a faulty transfer case?
Yes, you can operate your vehicle with a faulty transfer case. But it can get pretty messy if you’re trying to drive in the snow. The 2WD system is not enough, and you should use the 4WD instead.
Does a transfer case do anything in two-wheel drive?
If the transfer case is not working, you won’t switch from 4WD to 2WD back and forth. Instead, you would only be able to use the 2WD system.
Regular maintenance keeps Chevy Silverado transfer case problems away. Most of the issues covered above can be easily prevented if the drivers kept a tight maintenance schedule. Either way, they’re not hard to fix.
Low transmission fluid is the only problem drivers might spend a lot of time on. Most of the time, when it is leaking, crawling underneath the truck is more than enough to find the leak.
However, when the transmission fluid is going into the transfer case, that’s when things can get pretty messy.
But you know how to find the leak and fix it by yourself and many other problems now. So it’s time to put your hands to work.
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