Pickup Truck’s 4WD Transfer System is an Easy Fix

December 11, 2010/Steve Tackett


Dear Doctor: I own a 1998 Ford Ranger 4×4 with a 3.0-liter engine and five-speed manual transmission. I bought it used with 115,000 miles on the odometer. The problem is the truck will seldom go into four-wheel Low, and when it does it takes a lot of trying to get it back out. It will switch from two-wheel to four-wheel High and back with no problem. Any suggestions on how to fix the problem? Mike
Dear Mike: The 4×4 transfer system is not complicated. There is a switch on the dash that operates a small electric motor on the transfer case. The small electric motor is a common problem. The technician will take the motor off and manually turn the transfer case in all positions to verify there is no binding. A fluid change is also a good idea.
Dear Doctor: I have a 1997 BMW 528i in Orlando, Fla., with the 2.8-liter six-cylinder engine. I’ve been told it needs the head. I wish to keep the car. Can you inform me of any place I can contact that rebuilds, remanufacturers or has the head to replace? Jose
Dear Jose: This is a common problem with this engine. The cylinder head replacement is not an inexpensive repair. the best advice I can give you is that if you are doing the job yourself, then start your search online, contacting all of the salvage yards in your area. If you are having a shop do the cylinder head replacement, then let the shop get the head and do the job. They will have to warranty the job parts and labor. If, however, you get the parts, then the shop is off the hook for the warranty. I have had some customers actually buy a complete used engine. Price out your options. There are some machine shops that can actually repair the cylinder head.
Dear Doctor: I have a minivan with a problem with the passenger side window. The power-operated switch sometimes does not work on form either the driver’s side control or the passenger’s. I’m very handy and would like to fix it myself, but I don’t know what the problem is. I recently replaced a switch on my son’s 1997 Buick Century. I bought a switch from Switch Doctor Online. Saved a lot of money. Can you diagnose my problem? Larry
Dear Larry: You’ll need to remove the door panel and check for power at the switch (when the window does not work).

The driver’s master power window switch is the power and ground for all windows. A master switch with a fault will cause your problem. Do not jump to conclusions, rather follow the test procedures. Check the Alldata web site for step-by-step troubleshooting and color wire diagrams.
Dear Doctor: My 1993 Honda Civic has over 212,000 miles. About a month or so ago I started to hear some kind of noise from the steering column. A few days later I lost my power steering. My mechanic ordered a new pump, reservoir and a pulley to replace the old ones. While I was waiting for the parts to come in I drove the car and noticed that the noise has gone away and the power steering is working fine, except that I have noticed a few drops of some kind of fluid on my garage floor leaking (minor) from the engine. I have been driving the car without any problems for three weeks. Now I have $500 parts, which the mechanic said that he will not be able to return. I would appreciate your recommendations. EK
Dear EK: There should be a way to return the parts, even special order parts should be returnable for a restocking fee. I would contact the place the parts were purchased from. For your Honda to lose the power steering means a possible air pocket is likely. Older Honda vehicles had a problem with air entering the system from a poor sealing o-ring at the power steering pump. I would not replace any parts at this time. As for the small leak, you do need to identify the source of the leak.
Dear Doctor: I have a 2003 Ford Explorer 4×4 with the 4.0L V-6 and five-speed automatic transmission. There are currently 38,000 miles on the truck. When driving in two-wheel-drive there is an intermittent bumping, slipping, stuttering coming from the drivetrain. When I slow down for a red traffic light to about 4 mph, and the light turns green and I accelerate, these noises occur. My mechanic says it might be the transmission and to change the fluid. Is there a problem with these trucks? Bob
Dear Bob: There have been some transmission issues with the five-speed automatic on those early model year Explorers and Mountaineers. We actually had one with 75,000 miles with the transmission that acted up. After a discussion with our transmission shop, I was convinced to have the transmission rebuilt and all the updates done. A year later the transmission is still perfect and gas mileage has even increased. The cost of an overhaul with the updates will cost around $2,000-plus. Before the overhaul, I would perform a complete transmission fluid change and use the correct Ford fluid. — Junior Damato, Motor Matters

Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician.

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Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010