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Stiff Shifter

Old 12-17-2015, 04:02 PM
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Question Stiff Shifter

This is probably another newbie question, but I gotta ask.

When test-driving the '99 Grand Cherokee I helped my daughter get, I found that the automatic transmission works excellently. That, of course, is not the problem. When I put it into full-time 4wd to see how it sounded, the Selec Trac shifter was extremely stiff, and it took a pretty good tug to get it into 4 Full Time. Once in gear, it growled a bit as I drove down the (dry) road, but not anything I did not expect.

I probably should mention I have never previously owned a 4x4, and the reason for this purchase is that my daughter lives down a narrow country road that gets pretty dicey in the winter.

Since at the time I tested it I didn't know anything about Selec Trac, I shifted it into 4 Full Time at a dead stop, with my foot on the brake and the tranny in Park. I've since learned it's a shift-on-the-fly setup, but I haven't had a chance to try that. However, my girl's boyfriend tried putting it into 4wd a couple of days ago, and tells me it would only grind the gears. (He also complained the transmission shifted rough, but later admitted it was the way he was driving.) I don't think he got it fully engaged into 4wd.

I figure the works are gummed up because 4wd was never used, possibly because the first owner got the Selec Trac for bragging rights or with the help of a slick salesman. Either way, I don't think it's supposed to be hard to shift. Is this something I can spray WD-40 on to loosen up? (I haven't been under the car yet.) Or, is the linkage internal, and just needs to be reminded of what it's supposed to do?
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Old 12-17-2015, 06:16 PM
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The t/cases on the WJ shift by cable but the cable ends externally from the case and connects to a lever like the earlier ones. It has an accordion boot over the t/case end, but it's just like a parking brake cable. Don't use it, you loose it. What I would do is disconnect the t/case end and lube it as much as you can, working it back and forth, and see if it will loosen up. That end of the cable mounts in a bracket that can bend. It may have an adjustment, IDK because I've never looked at it well enough because I've never had a problem with it. If it won't loosen up, you may need to replace it.

When I said "shift-on-the-fly", that was an added feature but you can shift it anytime. Just let off on the gas to remove the torque and it should shift easily, EXCEPT to go to low range. There are several ways to do that, but I've found it's easiest for me to stop, put it in park with my foot on the brake, and shift it letting it roll a little to allow the gears to mesh. Some people say you can shift the trans to neutral, but I've found that allows the trans shaft to spin under internal friction and the gears will grind a bit.

There is a lever stop when you get to 4ft that requires pressing down on the lever to continue to neutral and 4lo. My cable is just a smidge out of adjustment because when I shift back to 2wd and drive, the lever pops back about a 1/4" to center the gears.

The way the 242 works is 4 part-time locks the 2 axles together to drive all the time, so you need loose surfaces to prevent binding. 4 full-time drives both axles thru a differential (sort of) in the t/case, so differences in wheel speed are allowed, like in turning. The only problem with this is if one wheel is on ice, only that wheel will spin. 4 low is part-time.

My WJ was owned by a soccer-mom in PA who put it in 4ft anytime snow was on the road and left it there most of the winter.
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Old 12-17-2015, 06:54 PM
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Maybe I should clarify: I assume that one would take the foot off the gas pedal to shift. That seems the natural thing to do. But, there are those....

I'll try to get a look at it tomorrow. We aren't due for any bad weather yet here in Kentucky, so I'm going to make use of the good weather while I can to fiddle around with it.
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Old 12-17-2015, 07:08 PM
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Let us/me know what you find. I only get sneak-peeks under my jeep when it's up on the lift because my buddy is afraid I'll get hurt and sue him, LOL. Actually, it's not him, but his daughter who runs the scheduling and parts ordering for the shop. When I first got it, I put it up in jackstands and lay under it for a hour just eyeballing it to compare it with my 97 ZJ. That was 3 years ago.
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Old 12-17-2015, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by dave1123 View Post
Let us/me know what you find. I only get sneak-peeks under my jeep when it's up on the lift because my buddy is afraid I'll get hurt and sue him, LOL. Actually, it's not him, but his daughter who runs the scheduling and parts ordering for the shop. When I first got it, I put it up in jackstands and lay under it for a hour just eyeballing it to compare it with my 97 ZJ. That was 3 years ago.
My daughter is bringing it over tomorrow afternoon for me to work on it. I suspect I'll be doing the same thing. (I once fell asleep underneath my '59 Chevy one balmy afternoon, when I was checking out something underneath.)
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Old 12-17-2015, 07:37 PM
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LMAO! Been there, done that! Usually the morning after the night before. Women can wear you out.
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Old 12-17-2015, 10:13 PM
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Dave is right its probably stiff from not being used,Most wj i have seen are mall crawlers and probably used 4x4 once in a long time.What i do with every 4x4 i had once a month shift it in to 4x4 and drive a block or two to get everything moving and working.And if any problems show up you can fix them now and not find out your 4x4 don't work when you need it the most.
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Old 12-17-2015, 11:44 PM
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Originally Posted by andrewmp6 View Post
Dave is right its probably stiff from not being used,Most wj i have seen are mall crawlers and probably used 4x4 once in a long time.What i do with every 4x4 i had once a month shift it in to 4x4 and drive a block or two to get everything moving and working.And if any problems show up you can fix them now and not find out your 4x4 don't work when you need it the most.
If I know my daughter, if she gets the chance, she'll go mudding in it, and really tick off her boyfriend, who seems to want to baby it. As for me, if it will keep her away from the tree she hit in the snow in her Saturn a couple of years ago, it will be worth every penny.
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Old 12-18-2015, 12:04 AM
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Anyone who owns a 4x4 should get it into the rough a little to learn how it handles. Just bumpy dirt roads with whoopty-doos and potholes is good practice. Of course, you'll need something better than all season street tires. I've used General Grabber AT2s, BFG Rugged Terrain ATs, and now have Cooper Discoverer AT3s on it. They are all like cat's claws in snow and pretty good in mud as well.

BTW, the WJ is pretty good in water also. I hit a flooded section of road at 40 mph one night because I didn't see it. I threw water very high in the air and almost came to a stop, but the engine never skipped a beat!

Last edited by dave1123; 12-18-2015 at 12:09 AM.
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Old 12-18-2015, 09:37 AM
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AS it happens, my daughter has a few acres, and you have to ford a small stream to get to the pasture area.
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Old 12-18-2015, 01:09 PM
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Cool! I would recommend a 2" lift just for tire clearance with the regular tires. Iron Rock Offroad has a nice 3" that maintains normal roadability and ride quality, I'm told. It uses springs and not spacers. I took a wilderness trail with my Stock WJ and dragged my muffler a couple of times. I wound up with a broken muffler clamp and a cracked primary pipe where it crosses under the engine. I was just driving a nice dirt road that got steadily worse until I couldn't turn around, so had to continue. I was not prepared for the large pools of water that had been lined with rocks and a small stream. This was my first experience off-road with my WJ. My ZJ would have laughed it it!
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Old 12-18-2015, 01:20 PM
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You know....

I have a '65 Mercury Comet, which I haven't driven in some time, which has surprising ground clearance for an ordinary car. I've taken that car down roads a sane man wouldn't have tried in another car, and didn't drag a thing. Of course, those roads would have been a piece of cake for Jeep.
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Old 12-18-2015, 02:42 PM
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Okay, maybe, just maybe, I shouldn't think this is funny.

The boyfriend asked a couple of his buddies (one of whom was a student of mine a few years back) if they could work on the Jeep instead of me. They told him he needed to get me, because they didn't know what to do. It seems I have a way of bringing cars back to life.

Of course, I am not smug. It would never occur to me to suffer that weakness of character.
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Old 12-19-2015, 01:37 AM
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So where in kentucky are you from ?
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Old 12-19-2015, 06:10 AM
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I'm amazed at his buddies response! That's a good thing because I've been in the situation where I've had to fix the screw-ups of "backyard mechanics" for my wife's friends. I, too, am not blowing my own horn, but I'm good at figuring out what's wrong BEFORE replacing parts. Or at least I used to be!

You know? We probably need to get back on topic.

Last edited by dave1123; 12-19-2015 at 06:18 AM.
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