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What is a Wrangler Transfer Case and How Does It Work?


What is a Transfer Case?

The Wrangler transfer case, also popularly known as the t-case, is often found on four-wheel drives. The auto component helps divide power to all four wheels of your vehicle, and you will discover off-roading difficult without a transfer case. The rigs gain traction with the help of a transfer case, which will enable you to get out of tricky situations. The transfer case divides power from the transmission to the rear and front wheels. Due to this, the engine power gets dispersed, and this enhances traction and provides more torque.

How Does a Wrangler Transfer Case Work?

When the engine starts powering the transmission, the transmission sends the power to the transfer case. The power gets sent from the output shaft using a set of gears or chains. The torque gets transmitted to the rear and the front driveshafts, and it helps in delivering power to the axles.

Chains are often a preferred choice of delivering power to a transfer case, and it is because they are lighter and quieter than a set of gears. You will find chains giving power in most of the modern transfer cases. Off-road enthusiasts prefer using gear sets to deliver power to the transfer case due to its reliability. Apart from that, it can also handle greater torque when compared to a chain.

When you don't engage the four-wheel drive, the rear wheels get 100% of the power. When the four-wheel drive does get engaged, the energy gets evenly distributed to all four wheels of the Wrangler.Transfer case works in absolute coordination with the wheels, transmission, driveshafts, differentials, and drive axles to distribute power to all these auto components.

Gear Settings Within the Transfer Case

You will often find two gear settings inside the transfer case, which are low and high. When you drive your Wrangler at a slow speed, the low gear provides more torque, helpful during off-road driving situations like hill climbing and rock crawling.
High gear is the ideal choice for basic off-roading situations such as driving your Wrangler in heavy rain and ice. When you are driving your Jeep in such conditions, you will need more traction. It is known as 4L and 4H or 4-Lo and 4-Li.The transfer case gets manually engaged with a lever if you have an old model and make of Wrangler. In new Wrangler models, you can operate the transfer case with only a push of a button.

What Are the Two Types of Four-Wheel Drive Systems?

Full time and part-time are the two types of four-wheel-drive systems. You must know the difference between the two.

Full-Time Four-Wheel Drive Systems: Full-time four-wheel-drive systems operate on all four wheels of your Wrangler. The systems operate whether you drive on paved roads or the highway. The full-time four-wheel-drive systems have both high and low gear settings. It would be best to remember that you wouldn't be able to switch to two-wheel drive as it is a four-wheel-drive system. When driving in off-road conditions, you will find the high and low gear settings helpful. Depending on the trail conditions you are going, you can shift to low or high gear.

Part-Time Four-Wheel Drive Systems

The part-time four-wheel drive remains in two-wheel drive, and it is usually the rear wheels that function. When you use this system, it improves fuel economy. Apart from this, it will put less strain on the drivetrain.
When you require a four-wheel-drive system, all that you need to do is to engage it, and it will start functioning. The four-wheel-drive system has many modes that you can choose to use, and the standard methods include 4-Lo, 4-Li, and auto.

Wrangler Transfer Cases and Four-Wheel Drive Systems

Depending on the Wrangler model you own, there are several four-wheel-drive systems available. Some old Wrangler models have manual part-time four-wheel-drive systems.The modern Wrangler models have automatic four-wheel-drive systems. These systems will engage on their own when they sense the need to do so.

Selec-Trac Full-Time Four-Wheel Drive System

The selec-trac full-time four-wheel-drive system is a two-speed system that can get operated in auto 4H. Depending on the driving conditions, the systems will automatically engage and disengage.The internal wheel speed and traction control systems help the selec-trac system determine whether it needs to switch to a four-wheel-drive system.

Command Trac Part-Time Four-Wheel Drive System

The Sahara and the Sport Wrangler models have the command-trac part-time four-wheel-drive system. The transfer case can shift from a two-wheel drive system to a four-wheel-drive system when the speed exceeds 45 miles per hour. Avoid operating the command trac on dry pavements. You should also avoid using it in good weather conditions. The system gets designed for off-road terrain or when you need extra traction on the road due to rain or snow.

Rock Trac Part-Time Four-Wheel Drive System

The Wrangler Rubicon model has the rock-trac part-time four-wheel-drive system. The heavy-duty four-wheel-drive system is for enhanced off-road performance. Even at slow speeds, you will get a higher torque.The rock-trac system enables your Wrangler to maintain a steady and slow crawling pace which is enough to overcome any obstacle on your off-road adventure.

Common Signs of a Damaged or Broken Transfer Case

If the transfer case gets damaged or broken, it should get replaced immediately. Lack of maintenance and the usual wear and tear is the most common reasons for transfer cases failures. If you drive with a damaged transfer case, it can affect your safety.

The common signs of damage include:

The four-wheel-drive system doesn't engage or disengage.
The Wrangler will start having shifting issues.
You will find it hard to stay in a four-wheel-drive system.
You will find a puddle of fluid under the transfer case location.
You hear humming, grinding or growling noises.


Just Jeeps Auto Wreckers has different types of transfer cases for all models and makes of Wrangler. The online inventory makes it easy to shop. When searching for the auto part, specify the transfer case's model, make, year, and component number. You can find transfer cases for both old and new Wrangler models.