Re: 96 chevy tahoe, transfer case making noise such as...
Fluid Should Be Checked Just The Same As Engine Oil. Should Be Changed At Least Once A Year For Proper Service & Reliability. Should be Driven 10 Miles A Month In 4 Hi To Keep Lubricated. I Drive A 1975 Chevy K10 PKP FullTime 4X4 NP203 & A 1980 GMC Jimmy Lock-Outs 4X4 NP205, And I Drive Them Once A Month At 55 MPH For 10 Miles (On Pavement). Keeps The System Lubed Up & Moving. Have Done This For The Last 15 Years I Have Owned Them. KEEP THEM SERVICED. Low Oil Is A Transfer Case Killer. Also Put The Correct Type Of Fluid In, Each Transfer Case Takes A Different Type Of Fluid, Call Dealer Shop For Correct Fluid Type. Some Take Dextron III Or 10-40 Engine Oil Depends On Transfer Case.
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inspect for worn components from output of transfer case to front diff input. If everything is tight and solid from those two points, everything else points to being transfercase internals. Make sure your actuator isn't faulty causing a "4x4 to 2x4 shift on/off"
It sounds to me like your gearbox is knackered, but just to be sure get underneath & check all the linkages, get yourself a workshop manual as linkages are easy to fit even for a novice, solenoids are relatively inexpensive so if you don't feel like doing this yourself then try this route first.
What you may be hearing is the wheel bearings instead of the transfer case. I had this problem with GM before and found it to be the wheel bearing was bad. I know it is not what you think, but it would be an easy thing to check first.
The transfer case is a chain driven unit and if the chain wears and gets slack or if some other component related to the chain fails it will "slip" over the sprocket teeth under a load making a banging sound as the chain binds. Find a flat blacktop parking lot, while in 4WD and in drive idle the vehicle slowly (at about 5 MPH) straight ahead. No noise? Now trun the vehicle as sharp as you can either dirrection (you may have to give it a little throttle to maintian speed) Now is it making the banging noise? If so it more than likely is the transfer case. Small debris can lock the transfer case in 4WD also. Hope this helps.