Operationally vacuum shifts the front axle between 2WD and 4WD mode. The GEM ( Generic Electronics Module ) applies ground to the solenoid needed for the mode selected on the switch ( for ESOF ) or when the transfer case shift lever is moved ( MSOF ).The contact plates in the transfer case signal the GEM that the transfer case is engaged, and the Vacuum solenoids need to be activated ( either 2WD to 4WD or 4WD to 2WD ).
Lift and support the front of the truck so the front wheels are off the ground ( take safety precautions, chock wheels, jack stands, etc )
Key on, engage 4x4 and try to turn the front drive shaft.
- If it turns it is a problem with the transfer case.
- If it doesn't it is a front axle engagement problem ( this is what you seem to have, the transfer case is engaged and will drive the front shaft mine was a key on engine off test ).
- If the front drive shaft does not turn :
•With the truck running ( with front wheel back on the ground ), switch from 2WD to 4WD and back again, the vacuum shift motor should move the lever on the front axle.
-- If the vacuum shift motor does not move:
1.Check for vacuum on the lines while shifting between modes. Pink vacuum line is 2WD mode, Light Blue vacuum line is 4WD.
2.Check the fuses for the 4WD system and the solenoids.
3.Check the vacuum lines from the vacuum shift motor to the solenoids on the firewall.
4.Check the vacuum lines from the solenoids to the vacuum reservoir box behind the battery.
5.Check the vacuum reservoir box for cracks.
6.Typical solution is the vacuum lines ( to the solenoids or to the vacuum shift motor ) are cracked or the vacuum shift motor has a cracked diaphragm and has water in it.
7.Could be the shift plate contacts in the transfer case are corroded / not making good contact, and not activating the solenoids.
Usually the case is cracked vacuum lines from the solenoids, the next common is a cracked vacuum reservoir box, and 1 time I have seen the mount for the vacuum disconnect motor broken ( motor floating free so it could not push against the axle )