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Could be a bearing. If so could be expensive. If its a straight 6 could be a host of things, head crack that has over heated engine makes it sound like a diesel, bad lifter, you need a mechanic to look before real damage is done
First I was going to say the valves were damaged from the heat or lack of oil, but that would not make sense if the steering wheel is turned. The power steering is about the only thing affected by the steering wheel. I would take a piece of heater hose and use it as a stethoscope to listen around the pulleys for the noise with someone turning the wheel.
Sounds like the fluid coupler inside the transfer case failed. In my opinion using those is a great idea on paper but they just do not last as well as the older direct engagement units used in Cherokees and wranglers. I own many Jeeps and will not have a GC for that one reason. The transfer case needs to be removed and rebuilt. There is no external repair or temporary fix.
Sounds like it is in 4 wheel drive mode. If you have a switch to disconnect the 4 wheel drive it may not be working. If the vehicle is full time 4 wheel drive or computer controlled 4 wheel drive you have most likely a locked in full 4 wheel drive mode situation. Not good on dry pavement.
Has this Jeep been modified at all? It sounds like the shifter cable was reinstalled backwards.
Specifically the 4-Low "Not Climbing Well". 4-Low should give you the best torque and hill climbing ability.
Do you feel any "Binding" in the steering wheel (difficult to turn)?
Remember a Jeep uses real driveshafts and differentials to give you 4WD - you cannot engage 4WD or 4-Low on dry hard surfaces. It needs a little bit of slip between the wheels for turns.
Check you're fluids too.
check your linkage bolt first. if it has came loose you will need to make sure it is set to be in 2 wheel drive.first make sure your shift lever is in the 2 wheel drive postion then crawl under the jeep loosen the nut move the lever all the way forward (front of the jeep) this is 4 low , move it back one notch and this is netural, move it back one more and this is 4 high, move it one more notch this is 2 wheel drive. tighten the bolt. this should get you back on the road.