A transfer case is a specialized component that is used on four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles. It is essential on vehicles that use both front and rear axles to drive. And in the case of 4x4s, each of the four wheels need to be powered.
In the simplest of terms, a transfer case will split up the engine power and send it to all four wheels using the front and rear axles. It is the center of the drivetrain system on all-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles. Off-road vehicles may utilize a transfer case that contains one or more sets of lower gears. This is to handle the most demanding terrain.
Transfer Case – Different Types
There are many different types of all-wheel and four-wheel drive configurations, and each will require a different type of transfer case. For instance, a vehicle that is always in four-wheel drive will have the simplest type of transfer case. This is compared to a part-time 4WD or a more modern “Active” 4WD. Which will have more complex systems to run the vehicle in different drive modes.
A transfer case receives power from the engine and diverts it to the front and rear axles. The differential(s) will also aid in disbursing the power so that the car handles as well as possible. Some transfer cases will use chains, some will use hydraulics and some will use gears.
AWD and 4WD Transfer Case
Transfer cases on AWD and 4WD vehicles are just one example of the complex drivetrain system that powers your car. Power goes from the engine to the transmission. And then the transmission sends power to the rest of the components that actually move the car. Driveshafts, differentials, transfer cases, drive axles, and wheels all must be working in perfect unison for your vehicle to perform well.
Married – Transfer cases are also classified as either “divorced”/independent or “married”. Married transfer cases are bolted directly to the transmission, usually between the transmission’s output shaft and the rear or main driveshaft. Sometimes a married transfer case is an integral part of the transmission and the two components share the same housing or “case”, as is commonly found on recent Subaru products and some other all-wheel-drive cars.
Divorced/Independent – A divorced or independent transfer case is completely separate from the transmission. It is located further down the driveline than a married transfer case and connected to the transmission output shaft by a short driveshaft. Independent transfer cases are used on very long wheelbase vehicles, such as commercial trucks or military trucks.
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