Question about 1990 Chevrolet K1500

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I have a 1990 K1500 4X4 Chevy pickup that wont engage into four wheel drive. I bought the truck from a friend who had just replaced the actuator on the front end but that did not cure the problem. The shifter in the truck will put the truck into 4 low and 4 high but the front end does not engage, seems to be an elecrical issue as the console doesn't light up when shifting the transfer case. Is there another solenoid or relay on the transfer case that engages the actuator on the front end?

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I had the same problem on my 90 K1500, it was the 4 wheel drive actuator unit itself. Bout it at the local parts store for 30 bucks and installed it in 10 minutes or less - and vavoom! 4 X 4 back in business.

Posted on Sep 28, 2009

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Shifter vibates when engage but does not work

Posted on Jul 14, 2011

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I have the same problem with mine i checked my acuator and it did work. took it back to Orileys and the guy said it was a switch in the transfer case that triggers it, but of course he gave me the wrong one. UGH

Posted on Jan 23, 2010

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Check the fuse for the actuator, this burns out when the actuator fails

Posted on Sep 27, 2009

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1 Answer

1990 GMC suburban actuator and fuse location. There is not one on front differential and no place for fuse in fuse block. 4 wheel will not engage. No owners manual


The actuator will not be on the front differential or drive line, it will be on the transfer case, which is mounted behind the transmission. Follow the front drive shaft back from the front differential, and the component at the rear of the driveshaft is the transfer case. That is where four wheel drive is engaged/disengaged.
I'm not familiar with your vehicle, but if you have a separate lever to engage 4wd, there will not be a fuse for the actuator - it is a manual system. If the 4wd is selected electrically, check that all wiring and connectors on the transfer case are in good condition.

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1-1/4") and two wires coming out of it. Usually they short out and blow the fuse but, I've also seen where they just quit working and sometimes they just get slow to work. The "actuator" has a heating element in it and it warms up, some sort gas, causing it to expand thus engaging the front wheels. In cold weather it may take a minute or so for it to engage, so put in four wheel drive and wait for a bit and see what happens.

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Oct 29, 2009 | 1990 Chevrolet K1500

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Front axle stuck engaged


w9fro..In1995, and other model years, the actuator used to engage the transfer case into four wheel drive is oil filled with a heating element.
When you select four wheel drive the element heats up, the oil expands and engages the transfer case. Unfortunately if the actuator fails, the truck remains in four wheel drive. GM has an improved actuator so the problem does not repeat.
As always, check the basics, power, grounds and switch at floor select before replacing the actuator.
Also, if the truck is truly stuck in four wheel drive, you can tell by turning the truck in a tight circle. If the front end wants to "bunny hop" it is definitely engaged.
Best of luck, let me know.
Regards,

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1 Answer

1993 Chevy 1500 pickup 4-wheel drive


I replaced the malfunctioning “thermal actuator” with the “Warn” Vacuum actuator setup, it’s been working great for about 7 years now, simple install, if I remember correctly, it was about $150.
That’s what engages the front diff into 4wd.

Nov 24, 2008 | 1993 Chevrolet C1500

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