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2011 4wd isn't engaging.


Wheelwright

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I have a clean 5s 2011, with ~90k on it. I've put about 20k on it in the last year, almost all highway driving.
I noticed after I got it, that the 4wd didn't really want to engage. It did when I test drove it, but changed its mind after I got it home.
The switch made the 'click' that it should, but it would take several tries to get the 4wd light to come on, and sometimes it would get the light, but not be enagaged. Along with this comes a sound behind the dash that I can only describe as a 'crackling'. it happens a heartbeat or so after I move the switch, almost every time. it's exactly the sound that a wire makes when it's coming apart and has a lot of little tiny arcs at the joint. It's very audible, and my '08 didn't do anything similar.
It's now reached the point where the 4wd doesn't engage at all, crackling or not, 4H or 4L.
I pulled the fuses for a bit to clear any cache memory that might exist, and the system worked as it should for about an hour. It worked when I tested it, and next day it didn't.
The lights don't flash, and a code pull shows nothing.

Is there any way to diagnose this without crawling on the ground? I read that the transfer case motor is a possibility, but there's snow on the ground, and my garage is full of motorcycles.

My inclination is to throw a used transfer controller at it, and maybe a switch, just to se what changes. I know that those are ridiculously specific, but I found one with exactly the same part number and vendor code.

-HR
 


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RonD

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There are 3 parts to 4WD control system in 2001 and up Rangers
Dash switch
4x4 module
Shift motor

Dash switches rarely fail, they have 3 resistors inside, the 4x4 module sends the switch a steady voltage with key on, module then gets back a reduced voltage depending on which of the 3 resistors the steady voltage is passing thru, so pretty simple set up.

4x4 module from 2001 to 2005 were a known issue, 2006 and up were better but could fail

The shift motor is the most common issue because of disuse, its an electric motor with two brushes and a rotor that need to stay clean and in contact or the motor can't start/move when needed
There is also a worm gear and reduction gear that needs to stay lubed
Sitting in the driveway and shifting from 2WD to 4low and then back to 2WD once a month helps keep brushes working a lube spread out
Just a heads up, "use it or lose it", :)

Pictures of shift motor disassembled here: https://www.explorerforum.com/forums/index.php?threads/how-to-rebuild-4x4-shift-motor.123542/

In the shift motor are 5 contacts, they detect the position of the transfer case shift rod
The 4x4 module sends 12v to the motor using 2 internal relays, both relays are Grounds when off
The 4x4 module activates one relay to turn the motor clockwise, and the other relay to turn the motor counter clockwise, so works just like power windows.
The relays are the only "moving parts" in the 4x4 module

The 4x4 module moves the motor until the 5 contacts are in correct position for selection made by driver, 2WD, 4high, or 4low.
If the module sends power to shift motor and contacts do not start to change immediately it will start to Flash the 4WD light on the dash, indicating a problem in the system.

You didn't mention any Flashing 4WD lights which would indicate an issue with the 4x4 module.
But just a guess, if shift motor was not responding/moving then 4WD light should Flash

Its possible the dash switch is shorted and voltage is not changing when you turn the knob, odd way to fail but is possible, if connection was broken inside 4WD lights would Flash
 
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AveI

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I'm following up to this because I'm currently in a similar situation with a 2011 automatic v6. When I try to engage 4lo or 4hi I hear a clicking in the dash but no lights are flashing. The lights turn on when I fire up the truck but they never turn on aside from that. So since my lights are not flashing does that mean its an issue with the module, or the shift motor?
 

RonD

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Welcome to the forum

Whats the history?
Have you had this Ranger for awhile and the 4WD worked fine the whole time, until now?
Or did you just get it and 4WD doesn't work?


With Key on, all bulbs in the dash should come on, this is a "Bulb test" to show if a light bulb is burned out, so not related to any "system", and then most go off except the ones that should be on with key on/engine off

In 2011 the 4x4CM is behind the radio, and that's where, and what, should "click" when you change 4WD dash switch
So switch is working

You can check Fuse #27 in ENGINE fuse box, that powers the shift motor on transfer case
Then check Cab fuse box fuses #10 and #28, these power the 4x4CM

4x4CM looks like this: https://getusedparts.s3.amazonaws.com/PartImages/0078/78_591_693174_1.jpg

Just a circuit board with 2 relays inside, but expensive, wrecking yard maybe, 2007 to 2011 needed, earlier won't work

The shift motor on the transfer case is far more likely to be the problem, its the ONLY moving part of the system, so only thing that can "wear out"

I would tap on the shift motor with a hammer a few times and see if it starts to work, if so rebuild it or replace it

Yes, if 4WD lights flash then problem is shift motor for sure, but it seem Ford may have changed things, for the worse, lol, and that no longer happens in later models
 

AveI

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I’ve had the truck for a little more than a year. The man that had it before barely drove it. It only had 45,000 miles on it when I bought it and he was the only owner before me. Yesterday was only the second or third time it’s been in four wheel drive since I’ve purchased it, and considering how the previous owner babied it, I highly doubt he used the 4x4 at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was the first one to use it to be honest.

So that being said, yesterday was (probably) the third time the 4x4 has ever been used since it’s been purchased, all three times in the span of a year.


I think its either the fuses or the shift motor, but I’m hoping it’s an easy fix, regardless.
 
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RonD

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Shift motor would be my guess as well with that history

Disuse is the main reason they fail
They should be shifted from 2WD to 4low and back to 2WD, once a month just sitting in the driveway, that keeps the electric motor's brushes and rotor clean

Tapping on the motor may get it working again, it can free up a stuck brush so it makes contact with rotor
 


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