The Ultimate Guide to Fix Land Cruiser Transfer Case Problems

According to the Land Cruiser Club, there are several possible causes of transfer case failure in a Land Cruiser. Some common problems include oil leakage, lack of maintenance, and low fluid levels.

Through this article, we are going to cover the Land Cruiser transfer case problems and what types of symbols you may encounter if you have problems with your transfer case.

So, if you need to get rid of the Toyota Land Cruiser transfer case problems, you have come to the right place. Here we will walk you through all the possible solution actions for the transfer case failure.

Land Cruiser Transfer Case Problems- 5 Are Most Common

We know that the transfer case is a vital part of the drivetrain, and its responsibility is to allow the driver to switch between two-wheel drive (2WD) and four-wheel drive (4WD), depending on the driving conditions.

Moreover, the transfer case is used in vehicles with 4WD and AWD (All Wheel Drive).

So, over time, the transfer case can stop working for several reasons. When it’s detected that you have a bad transfer case in your Land Cruiser, you may experience some common symptoms of a bad transfer case switch.

For more details of the bad transfer case symptoms, a user described it on Land Cruiser Forum as follows-

So first it was a loud clanking noise like mud tyres hitting the arch or like a chain slipping on teeth sort of noise and now if I drive easy as soon as I go above 5mph it will sound like there’s something in the transfer box is scrapping in circles a bit like calipers grinding on inside of the wheel sort of noise when I slow down to around 5mph it’s gone again

Since we have described earlier that there are a few symptoms of a bad transfer case switch, as a result, we have given below a chart of all possible problems and reasons.

ProblemsReasons/ Symptoms
Oil LeakageDamaged gasket, worn seal, and wet fluid under the transfer case
Low Fluid LevelLoud noises, gear shifting problems, unexpected switching between 4WD and 2WD
Worn GearsWeird noise, worn gears, bearings
Gear Shifting IssueErratic or jerky shifting, grinding noises when shifting, unusual vibrations
Faulty SealFluid leakages, noises

Oil Leakage

It is a common issue with the Land Cruiser transfer case. Several problems, such as worn-out seals and gaskets or worn-out bearings within the unit, can cause it. It can result in overheating and even damage the drivetrain and other components.

If you observe fluid leaking beneath your transfer case, you may need to replace the seals, gaskets, or bearings. If the leak is caused by a more serious issue, such as a broken part, you may need to replace the entire transfer case.

Low Fluid Level

You may encounter several problems if you have a low fluid issue with your Land Cruiser’s transfer case. The most common symptom is a grinding or whining sound when shifting into four-wheel drive.

It is due to the gears in the transfer case not being properly lubricated. Other symptoms may include difficulty shifting, jerking while shifting, and vibration or clunking noises while driving.

While many transfer case issues can be resolved by simply topping off the fluid, in some cases, it may be necessary to have the fluid replaced, or the transfer case serviced.

Worn Gears

It can usually be caused by low fluid levels, worn gears, loose chains, and lack of fluid and bearings. As a result, all these issues may result in the bearings failing or the gears grinding, which may produce a loud, irritating noise.

It is essential to regularly inspect and maintain the gears and bearings of your transfer case in Land Cruiser if you hear some weird noise coming from the transfer case.

So, to eliminate the gear worn issue, you need to replace the chain, bearings, and fluid with an expert if you cannot deal with it.

Gear Shifting Issue

A bad transfer case also may create problems while shifting gears in your Land Cruiser. It can usually be caused by either an improper fluid level or a lack of fluid in the transfer case. Fluid levels too high or too low can cause the gears to slip or grind.

We suggest you ensure the right direction of operation of the transfer case from the owner manuals before assuming that you have a problem with the transfer case in your Land Cruiser. Otherwise, you might make a great mistake.

If you think your transfer case is creating gear-shifting problems in your Land Cruiser, check out that the chain is loose and the planet carrier is broken.

Faulty Seal

In your Land Cruiser, seals play an important role in the operation of a transfer case. Without them, dirt and debris can easily enter the case and cause it to malfunction. Additionally, the seals help to keep the lubrication in the case, which is necessary for proper operation.

You may experience fluid leakage around the transfer case area if these seals become worn or damaged. Moreover, the transfer case will no longer be appropriately lubricated. As a result, it could cause the parts inside the transfer case to wear down faster, resulting in excessive noise and vibration. Over time and use, the internal components will deteriorate and get overheated.

If you experience a faulty seal in your transfer case, you must replace it as soon as possible to avoid further damage. It is also important to use the proper lubricant for the transfer case and keep it clean and free of dirt and debris.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What causes transfer case failure?

Although a transfer case may fail for several reasons, some common causes are poor maintenance, oil leakage, and low fluid level brought on by leaks. Other potential causes include debris or contamination in the transfer case fluid, improper lubrication, and mechanical damage.

Is it worth replacing the transfer case?

Yes, you should replace it immediately if you have a faulty transfer case. And the worst case is a bad transfer case can even damage your transmission, leading to costly repairs. If you drive with a defective transfer case, you will risk further damage to your transmission and other drivetrain components, leading to an even more expensive repair bill.

How much does it cost to replace a transfer case?

The cost to replace a transfer case can vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle. The cost of parts and labor can range from $1000 to $2,500. When considering the price of a transfer case replacement, it is important to ensure a qualified and experienced mechanic is repairing and the parts used are of good quality. It will help assure the repair is done correctly and prevent future repair costs.

What happens if a transfer case goes bad?

If a transfer case goes bad, it can cause various vehicle drivetrain issues. A failing transfer case can cause the vehicle to switch in and out of the four-wheel drive without your input, produce strange noises, or become difficult to shift. In some cases, it can cause the vehicle to become stuck in four-wheel drive mode as reviewed by mechanic Richard from Car Parts.


Throughout the article on Land Cruiser transfer case problems, we have discussed all the potential problems and symptoms you may encounter if your transfer case malfunctions.

You have to get to know some relevant answers that will help you analyze the issues in more depth.

Overall, proper maintenance is the key to preventing transfer case failure in the Land Cruiser. Regular fluid changes and checking for leaks can ensure that the transfer case lasts many years.

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