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Assuming yours is the 2 gear stick layout this is roughly how it works.
ONLY CHANGE BETWEEN 2 AND 4 WHEEL DRIVE WHEN STOPPED, IN NEUTRAL AND WITH THE PARKING BRAKE ON!!
The smaller gear shift should be to the left of the normal gearstick.
It should be in the fully forward position. This means it is in 2 wheel drive, high ratio, for normal road driving. (Rear wheels).
Pulling the stick back ONE notch engages 4 wheel drive, high ratio. Used for snowy, icy, slippery conditions as well as light off roading. (Keep the speed under 50mph).
Pushing down and back another notch engages neutral in the transfer box. This means ALL drive is DISCONNECTED even if you use the normal gearbox.
**Try to avoid this one**!!
Pulling the stick back the last notch engages 4 wheel drive, LOW ratio. This is for the more extreme off roading conditions such as VERY steep hills. Not usually used in normal day to day driving.
The two fully forward positions, (2High and 4High), will be the ones used the most.
Check for power to the front differential actuator. This actuator slides a gear in position to lock the differential to drive the front wheels. If you have power and ground to the actuator when in the 4HI position, the actuator has gone bad.The 4LO is only engaging at the transfer case, but the front wheels are still not engaged if it is not working in 4HI.
The actuator under the battery runs the engagement of the front Diff .If 4 - wheel low is working and high is not then that is a linkage adjustment problem at the transfer case or a internal problem with in the transfer case not the transmission . Those transfer case are not that expensive from a salavage yard if that ends up being your problem and they are not that hard to change ... Alot easier then the transmission
What do the lights on the 4x4 selector switch do when you switch to A4WD or $HI or 4LO positions? Do they blink and revert to previous selection? Has the Transfer Case fluid been changed at 50K intervals? There are actuators on the Transfer Case and Front Differential that control the application of power to the front wheels. These actuators are controlled by the TCCM (Transfer Case Control Module). It takes a qualified 4 wheel drive technician to diagnose these systems.
The hi/lo is a function of the 4 wheel drive on the vehicle. The hi ratio would be used when negotiating sand or mud for instance and the lo for steep inclines where more power is needed. This is like having a gear with better pulling ability than first gear. You will find driving in 2nd gear lo will give you the same speed as 1st gear high. Do not engage the four wheel drive system when driving on hard surfaces ie tarmac or concrete. Use it only on surfaces where additional traction may be needed. It is a good idea to use the 4 wheel drive system at least once a month in order to lubricate those parts of the 4 wheel drive system that would otherwise be "dormant" when in 2 wheel drive. If you have diff lock funtion on the vehicle it would be a good to idea to engege this as well but once again only on a soft surface. The reason being that the centre diff lock tends to bind and stay engaged due to it not being properly lubricated. If it does bind(dash indicator stays lit) find a patch of grass or sand, engage reverse and drive a couple feet. If this does not disengage the lock turn the steering fully left or right and drive in a circle. This should then disengage the difflock.
there are 2 systems.
one is a part time system only.the 4x4 locks and is for ice mud and snow.Driving full time will damage the transfer case.The other system is a full time system and the selector says 2wd,4wd part time ,4wd full time and 4 lo. if in full time,it can be driven all the time even on dry roads.The full time is really an all wheel drive system.
the 4low is a very low gear and the main shifter has to be put in neutral and then the transfer case put in 4 low.attempting to put it in 4 low while in "drive" will make a gear grinding noise.
getting out of 4 low is the opposite.shifter to neutral and then put it in 2wd and then in drive.The newer durango has an electronic transfer case with a dial on the dash.The 2002 was available with 2wd,4wd,awd and 4 lo on a switch.The 1999 has the lever on the floor .
Having 4 wheel drive is not actually the case unless you have limited slip on both axles. Do you know if one wheel will spin on both axles. If you can't get either wheel to spin on the front axle and one will spin on the rear then I would agree your not getting front wheel drive. Since you can tell a difference between hi/lo the transfer case is definitely engaging
Just to clarify, the "transmission" is not stuck in 4-Lo. It is the "transfer case" that is attached to the transmission that actually engages the 4-Hi and 4-Lo modes. To properly shift your vehicle into 4-Lo, you know that you have to shift the transmission into neutral and slow down to less than 5 mph. Once your vehicle slows down to this range, your can switch your transfer case into 4-Lo mode. Due to the inner workings of the transfer case, the actual shift into 4-Lo may take a few seconds to complete. This is normal and does not signify that there is an issue. All transfer cases that have 4-Lo mode will act this way regardless of the make or model. To make a long story short, to shift out of 4-Lo you must follow the same steps that you took to shift into 4-Lo, just in reverse order. Switch the transfer case to 4-Lo mode if it isn't already there. Slow down to less than 5 mph (your vehicle must be moving, though). Then, shift your car into 4-Hi or 2WD. Give your vehicle several seconds to complete the shift. The transfer case indicator light will flash until it is complete. When it does complete the shift into the new gear mode, you will most likely hear a "clunk" (the range sleeve inside the transfer case disengages from its mating spline) from under your car. Again, any transfer case with 4-Lo (regardless of make or model) will exhibit this same noise. This should help you get out of 4-Lo. It is good practice to shift your car into and out of 4-Lo at least a few times each year to keep all of the splines free of corrosion and build-up. Based on the age of your vehicle, your transfer case may also need a complete flush and some new transmission fluid. Hope this helps.
I have to stop, engage 4H or 4L, and shift into nuetral and then the front gear box will then engage and you can hear it from nuetral and the engine at idle, it will slip into gear, if not, in gear go slow with 4x4 light "on" and while rolling slip into nuetral and then back into D, Some transfer cases will not engage in Overdrive, the D with a circle around it so shift into 3rd gear the one to the right of the D with a circle around it. 4 H has a speed limit, and do not shift into 4L while on pavement or you can do some damage.