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Summary
  • The transfer case position sensor is a component that communicates the transfer case’s position to the vehicle’s computer.
  • Your vehicle’s transfer case is located in the undercarriage, on top of the transfer case. To access the sensor properly, you might need to remove the vehicle’s driveshaft.
  • For your vehicle’s 4WD modes to work properly, your vehicle’s transfer case position sensor needs to function. Diagnosing transfer case position sensor issues can be difficult, especially for a DIY mechanic.

The transfer case is responsible for allowing four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicles to have different modes that change their drive wheels and transmission characteristics. 4WD vehicles have different modes to adapt to the different terrains over which they are driven. For example, 4WD low is for traversing steep gradients or towing at low speeds, while 4WD high mode is great for driving on slippery or muddy roads. A critical component for any transfer case is the transfer case position sensor or transfer case range sensor.

What Is a Transfer Case Position Sensor?

The transfer case position sensor is a component that communicates the transfer case’s current position to the vehicle’s computer. This information is critical because the vehicle’s computer needs information on the transfer case’s selected gear.

The transfer case is essentially a second gearbox that can offer gear reduction. This helps vehicles carry heavy loads by generating more torque at the cost of traveling slower. For the two gearboxes to function properly, the computer needs to know whether the transfer case is set to 4WD high or 4WD low.

The sensor typically has electrical contacts that correspond to different transfer case positions. When the driver picks a specific transfer case mode, the switch detects the transfer case’s position and sends a signal to the vehicle’s computer.

A faulty transfer case position sensor might prevent you from switching between 4WD modes.

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Tips on Replacing the Transfer Case Range Position Sensor

The Transfer Case Range Position Sensor’s Location

Your vehicle’s transfer case is located in the undercarriage, on top of the transfer case. Remember that the transfer case’s position can vary depending on the vehicle. Most transfer cases are located somewhere between the transmission and the rear differential. The rear driveshaft is directly connected to the transfer case, so following this component typically leads to the transfer case.

To access the sensor properly, you might need to remove the vehicle’s driveshaft.

Carefully Removing the Transfer Case Position Sensor

On some vehicles, you’ll need a wrench or ratchet to remove the transfer case position sensor from the transfer case. The sensor is bolted securely, so you’ll need a lot of torque to pry the sensor from its mounting point. This can be challenging since the transfer case position sensor is mounted near other components, making it difficult to access. You might need to use a long wrench or another tool like a pry bar to unhinge the sensor.

On other vehicles, the transfer case position sensor is easily accessible and can be removed using screws. Remember that the sensor is connected to a wiring harness. You should disconnect the sensor before unscrewing the sensor from its mounting point. If the sensor is located in a tight space, you need to be patient when unscrewing the sensor. The last thing you want is to bump your hand and get hurt.

Check the Transfer Case Wiring

The transfer case position sensor’s wires that lead to the computer are located outside the transfer case. Regular exposure to the elements can damage the wires, so sometimes the transfer case position sensor’s wiring is to blame.

Installing a New Transfer Case Position Sensor 

Reinstalling the new transfer case position sensor can be challenging if your sensor is located in a tight space. That said, installing a new transfer case position sensor is as simple as installing the new one in the same slot. On some vehicles, you’ll observe that the transfer case has a slot that specifically matches a notch on the sensor. You’ll need to ensure these two faces are joined properly before screwing the new sensor onto the transfer case. 

For your vehicle’s 4WD modes to work properly, your vehicle’s transfer case position sensor needs to function. Diagnosing transfer case position sensor issues can be challenging, especially for a DIY mechanic. If you think a vehicle’s 4WD system is malfunctioning because of a suspected failed transfer case position sensor, you shouldn’t be afraid to give the task to an experienced mechanic.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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