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How to Replace a Transfer Case in a Jeep Cherokee
The Jeep Cherokee transfer case is an important part of the wheel drive system. The transfer case is separate from the transmission and can be easily removed for service or replacement. Here’s how I ended up changing one.
I started by draining the fluid by removing the bottom drain plug. Then I support the transmission. Next I removed the front and rear drive shafts. An 8MM hex wrench and a pry bar are all you need.
I then unbolted the transmission mount using a 13MM socket. These nuts are on the cross and are accessed through holes. Then I dropped the cross member by removing the 15MM bolts and nuts that hold up. That gives me access to the transmission mount that is held to the transmission by two 18MM bolts. These bolts have a thread locking compound and are difficult to turn. I checked the mounts which are often broken on high mileage vehicles like this, but it was fine. Next I removed the muffler from the tab.
Instead of messing with the shift linkage bushing in the cold, I unbolted the shift lever from the transfer case. I chose 2wd and used a 9/16 wrench to remove the nut and washer. I carefully lowered the linkage out of the way. Usually I press the linkage from the bushing. Unbolting the lever is easy so I can start using the method as a standard practice.
Next I removed the speedometer drive by unbolting the 13MM retaining bolt and removing the clip. I left the sender attached to the cable harness. I pulled the belt away from the mounting tab at the top of the case. I removed the mode light switch and moved the cable out of the way.
Next, I unbolted six 9/16 nuts that hold the case to the transmission. Five are accessed using a box lock key. The latter is behind the transfer case shift linkage bracket and must be accessed using a 9/16 socket and a long extension. The two near the exhaust pipe take some patience to come down unless you remove the exhaust pipe. Since this one is in good shape and welded in place, I leave it alone. Lowering the case helps gain access to the two nuts.
With six dead nuts, the transfer case easily kills the transmission. I then prepared a replacement case to go back to 4wd. This allows me to rotate the front yoke and make the input splines turn to line up. With the replacement case in place I started the nut to hold it there.
Next, I tightened all six nuts. I then reinstalled the shift linkage, wiring harness and speedometer drive. I put the case on the 2wd to make the linkage line up with the lever. I then reinstalled the front drive shaft as it was easier to access with the cross member out of the way. I filled the transfer case with fluid before putting up the rear drive shaft as it was easier to get the bottle in place with the drive shaft out on the road. 231 holds more than one liter of ATF.
I then put up the exhaust bracket and transmission mount. Again, this bolt is difficult to turn due to the thread locking compound. I then put up the cross member and bolted it to the body before lowering the weight of the transmission to the cross member. I then reinstalled the four tools that hold the transmission mount for the cross member.
Then, I reinstalled the rear drive shaft. I checked for leaks and loose bolts and then lowered the Jeep for a test drive. The replacement transfer case works great and shifts into all gears without adjusting the linkage. If linkage adjustment is required, loosen the 13 MM bolt on the linkage and slide it to the proper position.
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