1994 command track shifter stuck - North American Grand Cherokee Association
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Old 04-22-2009, 06:27 AM   #1
Steve in Chicago
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Default 1994 command track shifter stuck

1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo with Command Track
(NP231 I believe)

I've just recently purchased this vehicle used and I'm beginning to get it into usable condition.

I can't move the transfer case shifter. I've read the owners manual and it says I should be able to shift it while the vehicle is in motion. I've tried pulling on the shifter much harder than I think would be necessary to move it (I don't want to bend something). I've tried while moving in gear, while moving in neutral, stopped in gear, stopped in neutral, engine off... no shifter movement at all. As soon as weather and time permit, I'll crawl under and inspect. Right now it's stuck in two wheel high.

What should I be looking for?
Is this a common problem?
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Old 04-22-2009, 07:06 AM   #2
WXman
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Sounds like the linkage is rusted and frozen stuck, probably due to lack of usage and salty roads. Get under there and lube up all the linkage connections with WD-40...you might even tap the linkage with a hammer next to the t-case to unfreeze it (with the vehicle off and emergency brake set of course.)
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Old 04-22-2009, 06:50 PM   #3
Steve in Chicago
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I had an opportunity to crawl under today and take a look. It's just as WXman speculated, all rusted. I hit everything with Liquid Wrench spray and let it sit a while. (I'm not a fan of WD-40. PB Blaster and Liquid Wrench are much better penetrating oils in my opinion.) After some soak time I sprayed everything again and tried moving linkages. Some of them had a bit of movement, but the floor shifter is still stuck. I'm going to spray the linkages down several times tomorrow, then try tapping with a hammer later in the day.
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Old 04-22-2009, 09:23 PM   #4
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I had to run out on a late service call and figured... It's been soaking in penetrating oil for a while now, lets see if it moves. IT MOVES!! I was able to work the shifter all the way down to 4-low. It's still not free as it should be, but at least it moves now. I had some clunking from the front when making a turn in part time 4 wheel drive. Not sure what's up with that yet.
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Old 04-23-2009, 01:24 PM   #5
swervegarden jr
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if the pavement was dry, i believe 4x4 part time is a 50-50 lock, if so then that would be normal.
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Old 04-23-2009, 07:12 PM   #6
Steve in Chicago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swervegarden jr View Post
if the pavement was dry, i believe 4x4 part time is a 50-50 lock, if so then that would be normal.
After work today I found a gravel parking lot and shifted to each of the Command Track modes. Anything other than two wheel drive produces some grindy/clunky noises from the front end. I'm hoping it's just some torn up U-joints and not the front axle. I'll have to find time to look. The good thing is, it appears the transfer case is working in all modes.

When I select a 4x4 mode, the display in the center shows the change immediately, but the mechanism seems to take some time to actually engage. Same goes for when I shift back to Two wheel drive. What all is happening mechanically when I shift from mode to mode? I assume the shift handle physically moves things around in the TC to engage the front drive output or the reduction gear set. What about the hubs? How are they locked in/out? Is anything else happening under there?
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Old 04-24-2009, 07:10 PM   #7
swervegarden jr
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it has 2 wheel hi, 4x4 part time hi and 4x4 lo? i don't have experience with that t-case but make sure your moving slow when you shift, not parked and not fast (like 5 mph) cuz that momentum is what mechanically engages the 4x4 and what not. ask others with that case but i think both those 4x4 modes are locked front and rear and only for snow and mud and stuff. but i could be wrong... it depends on what it's doing and how bad it is. i needed my front diff rebuilt with the np249 all time 4x4 on my old jeep... it was doing what you described
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Old 04-24-2009, 07:24 PM   #8
Steve in Chicago
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Now I'm hearing clunking even in two wheel drive. I took a peek under the front end today and could see the passenger side U-joint is bad. I don't think there are any needle bearings left in there. I also noticed the passenger side wheel is still locked to the front drive shaft. When I turned the bad U-joint to see how much play it had, the front drive shaft moved along with the passenger side axle. Aren't the hubs supposed to unlock so as not to be spinning the front drive train when in two wheel mode?

It's the Command-Track NP231 case I believe. 2-hi, 4-hi part time, neutral, 4-low part time. 4-hi and 4-low are a 50/50 torque split which I assume means the T-case locks both front and rear drive shafts together.
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Old 04-25-2009, 04:19 AM   #9
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Steve, to know what you have for a TC, climb under and look at the TC. It should have a silver round metal tag screwed to it. The first line will tell you. The second line (so I was told) is the "DNA" of the unit which really doesn't mean anything to us, just the people who make it or rebuild them. It does sound like a -231. Or poss someone did a swap and didn't change the bezel.
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Last edited by MaineMan; 04-25-2009 at 05:34 AM.
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Old 04-26-2009, 08:56 AM   #10
Steve in Chicago
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I went to pull the axle so i could replace the U-joint and I couldn't even get the lug nuts off the wheel. The folding style lug wrench snapped before the lugs turned. Sooooo I hit EVERYTHING under the front end with PB Blaster and I'm letting it sit for a while (because It's now raining ).

It appears that the hubs do not unlock from the front axle. The front drive train turns whenever the vehicle is in motion (even when in two wheel drive). That makes no sense to me. The whole point of Part Time Four Wheel Drive is to allow the front wheels to free-wheel when not needed. Less drag for better fuel economy, less wear on driveline components. They should have included hub locks of some type, or simply made it Full Time 4x4 with a locking transfer case mode. This design is somewhere between the two with the benefits of neither and the detributes of both. Weird.

Last edited by Steve in Chicago; 04-26-2009 at 02:08 PM.
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