Question about 1999 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

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1996 S10 4x4 4x4 does not engage manual shift for transfer case

I can not get the 4x4 to engage. I can shift to neutral and when shifting back to 4x4 high or 2x4 I hear the grinding so I know it works. the light comes on but it never locks into four wheel what is the problem? the tranmission on the pickup is automatic.
I pulled and replace both the tranmission fuse and the 4x4 fuse and that was not the problem.

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  • lyradjones Dec 29, 2008

    I have the same problem with my 1996 Silverado. The 4-high light just keeps blinking no matter how far I drive forward or reverse. The same thing happens when I move the gear selector to neutral and try to engage 4-low. I can hear a clunking sound coming from underneath the truck whenever I try and shift to 4X4, but the front wheels just won't engage.

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I figured I'd write a followup in case it helps somebody else.

Per @ccn7's information I did some troubleshooting and determined that the problem was the thermal linear actuator (TLA) [GM# 26013495). I ordered an aftermarket replacement (600-100) from Amazon.com cheaper than I could get wholesale from a parts store.

It worked except that I had to remove the electrical connector from the new unit and attach the connector from the old unit. Apparently the one I ordered is for trucks manufactured before 01-02-1996. Instead, I should have ordered the newer design (600-101) and my connector would have fit. (Or so I'm lead to believe.)

I've also discovered that you can get a replacement kit that eliminates the TLA altogether. It's more expensive and more work to install, but apparently it provides additional benefits over the standard TLA. Google Posi-lok if you're interested.

Thanks for stearing me in the right direction ccn7!

Posted on Jan 21, 2009

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Sounds to me like the selanoid that locks in the front axels in is not working. might be a place to start. easy chk. unplug it and take it out put 12 volts to it and see if it moves. you can also chk. to see if you got power to that plug. test with testlight. hope this helps.

Posted on Dec 30, 2008

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Just taking a stab in the dark..your transfer case is more then likely the culprit.

Posted on Dec 29, 2008

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Electronic Shift On the Fly (ESOF) Operation
The ESOF system is an electronic shift 4x4 system that allows the operator to choose between two different 4x4 modes as well as 2-wheel drive. The operator can switch between 2WD and 4WD HIGH mode at speed. To engage or disengage LOW Range, the vehicle speed must be less than 5 kph, the brake depressed, and the transmission must be in NEUTRAL.

The transfer case is equipped with an electromagnetic clutch which is located inside the case. This clutch is used to spin up the front drive-line when shifting from 2WD to 4x4 High mode at speed. When the control switch on the instrument panel is turned, the generic electronic module (GEM) recognizes that a shift has been requested and activates the electromagnetic clutch and the relays which power the transfer case shift motor. When the shift motor reaches the desired position as determined by the contact plate position inputs to the GEM, power to the shift relays and motors will be removed. When the transfer case front and rear output shafts are synchronized, the spring loaded lockup collar mechanically engages the main-shaft hub to the drive sprocket. Finally, the front axle collar is engaged and the electromagnetic clutch is deactivated.

Shift Between 2WD and 4x4 HIGH:
Shifts between 2WD and 4x4 HIGH can be made at speed. Listed below are the inputs and outputs needed by the GEM to execute a change between any of these modes.

Feature Inputs:
*4WD Mode Switch (Various resistances).
*Contact Plate Position Inputs A, B, C, D (grounded when closed, open circuit when open).

Feature Outputs:
*4x4 Shift Motor Relay Outputs
*Transfer Case Clutch Relay (grounded when relay is on, open circuit when relay is off).
*4x2/4x4 Vacuum Solenoid (grounded when activated, open circuit when deactivated).
*Cluster Indicators (ground when activated, open circuit when deactivated).

Shifting Into/Out of 4WD LOW:
When shifting into or out of 4WD LOW, the GEM requires that the vehicle speed be less than 5 kph, the brake is applied, and the transmission is in NEUTRAL.

Feature Inputs:
*4WD Mode Switch (Various resistances).
*Contact Plate Position Inputs A, B, C, D (grounded when closed, open circuit when open).
*VSS Sensor (Sinusoid Signal: 0.7V-20V, 2.2 Hz/mph).
Brake Input (battery voltage when brake is depress, open circuit when not activated).
*Transmission Range Sensor (grounded when transmission is in NEUTRAL, open circuit otherwise).
8Start/Clutch Depressed Input

Feature Outputs:
*4x4 Shift Motor Relay Outputs
*4x2/4x4 Vacuum Solenoid (grounded when activated, open circuit when deactivated).
*Cluster Indicators (grounded when activated, open circuit when deactivated).

4WD Mode Switch
A rotary switch allows the vehicle operator to choose between 2WD, 4WD HIGH, and 4WD LOW modes of 4x4 operation.

GEM Module
The Generic Electronic Module (GEM) controls the operation of the 4x4 system

Vehicle Speed Sensor
The vehicle speed sensor (VSS), mounted in the rear of the transfer case, informs the GEM of the vehicle speed.

Transfer Case Shift Motor Sense Plates

The shift motor sense plate, an integral part of the electric shift motor, informs the GEM to the positions of the transfer case

Transmission Range Sensor
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Electric Shift Motor
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4x4 Shift Motor Relay
A module containing two relays which under the control of the GEM, shift the transfer case shift motor between the 2WD, 4WD HIGH, and 4WD LOW modes.

Transfer Case Clutch Relay
An electromechanical relay is used to activate the transfer case clutch within the transfer case.

Good luck and hope this helps,but start with the simple and check the fuses and wire harness. Both white/light blue stripe wires should have 12V in run. The GEM will ground the left side (closest to engine) solenoid to disengage the front axle. It will ground the the right side solenoid (closest to fender) to engage the front axle. If the GEM doesn't see Neutral it will not let the truck come out of 4Lo. If the GEM had water leaking on it it may well be the root of the problem. The shift motor only has power when the GEM sends it a signal to move the shift lever. Once the shift is completed the motor shuts off. There are 2 wires that control the shift motor. A yellow and an orange. The GEM alternates between 12v and Ground to these wires to control which way the motor turns. The GEM uses the transfer case shift relay module to control the power to the motor. There are contact plates inside the shift motor assembly that indicate the position that the shift lever is in. This is what the GEM used to know what the T-case is doing. Any one of these components can fail.







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I love driving 4x4 jeeps, especially in 4-wheel drive. First, a list of when you should and should not use 4-wheel drive.

2x4 Hi is for normal driving in most weather and anytime you are driving over 50mph.

4x4 HI is for getting you unstuck from mud or snow and can be used up to 50mph but is not recommended for much faster. It is only designed to get you moving and unstuck, it will NOT make it any safer to drive faster on slick surfaces like rain, snow, or ice. Always drive slower on these kinds of surfaces.

4x4 lo (low) is for extreme 4x4 driving like trail riding and mud bogging to get over steep inclines and deep mud without burning up the clutch. 4x4 lo should never be used to drive faster than 25-35mph and should only be used in off road situations.

Neutral (on the 4x4 shifter) is mainly used if you are towing your jeep with any of the wheels on the ground. It completely disengages the transmission from the drive train so you can tow it without damaging the trans.

Now, to shift from one to another. My jeep may be different than yours and I haven't driven my jeep in a while (I had to sell it) but it should shift the same way.

First, make sure you are parked and the wheels are not moving. Put the main gear shift (5-speed) into Neutral, hold down the clutch and move the selector from 2x4 to 4x4 by first pulling the shifter to the side then moving it up or down. Some jeeps (especially older ones) may have a wheel lock on the outside of the wheel hub (AKA hub lock). This must be in the "LOCK" position for 4x4 and "UNLOCK" for normal 2x4 driving. Make sure it is fully engaged in the slot before shifting into 1st. Then you can drive normally, following the guidelines above.

The regular 5-speed transmission will shift just the same as before but you will notice that the jeep will drive much slower in 4x4 lo and it will have much more torque for those really sticky situations.

Good luck! Have fun! And if you do plan on doing some real 4x4'in or mud boggin' make sure you buy a winch for the front of your jeep or bring a friend who has a winch on their truck to get you unstuck from the worst of the worst! Don't forget to rate!

P.S. if you have problems with one or more 4x4 settings you can always shift back to 2x4. Make sure that if you are driving on the highway or in normal driving conditions, you are always in 2x4.

P.P.S. If you are near the Columbia, MO area send me a PM, I'd love to find some new friends to do some 4x4 driving with in the area so I can get back into the sport. I miss it.

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