The transfer case in your engine/transmission does exactly what its name says it does: it receives power from the transmission and transfers that power to the front and rear axles. This is done either with a set of gears or it is chain driven.
In four-wheel drive vehicles, this process happens when the driver activates the transfer case either by flipping a lever, or shifting into four-wheel mode, or by locking the hubs on the wheels. Some vehicles even have low range gears, so there might be a shifter for regular gears and also a shifter for 4WD and even 4WD low and high.
The gear-driven transfer cases are usually only found on large vehicles like trucks and maintenance vehicles. The chain-driven transfer cases are used on compact trucks, full-size trucks, Jeeps, SUVs and some passenger cars.
There are two types of housings used, the married housing and the divorced/independent housing. A married transfer case is bolted right on the transmission, and on some cars it actually shares the same housing with the transmission. On a divorced housing there is a separate case from the transmission and it is usually bolted to the transmission output shaft with a short driveshaft from the transfer case to the front and rear differentials. This is most often the case on vehicles with very long wheelbases like commercial trucks.
There are also two different types of transfer case shift, namely the M.S.O.F. and the E.S.O.F. The Manual Shift On The Fly transfer case has a selector lever on the driver’s side. To engage into four-wheel drive the vehicle has to be moving slowly so that the 4X4 high gear can be engaged. For 4X4 low gear the vehicle must be stopped.
The other type is the Electronic Shift On The Fly transfer case and with that you will usually find a dash-mounted selector switch or buttons. Simply pushing the button or setting the switch will shift you into 4X4 mode.
And those are the basics of a transfer case.
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