89 toyota truck 4x4 will not go into gear and started smoking while being towed!

Hi there, a few weeks ago I had my truck in 4wd and was reversing, I stopped and tried to go into first gear. I found that the shifter would not engage, I can move the shifter around 360 degrees with nothing catching. I checked under the shifter boot and thought it may be the bushing that is shot. To feel safer anyway I decided to have a friend tow me to pavement and have AAA tow me into town, as I live 7 miles down a curvy mountain road off grid. As i was being towed out today the truck started spewing black smoke from about where the shifter is underneath the truck. Freaking out, we stopped the tow and i coasted back down the hill into the driveway. what gives?! I’m stuck out here in the wilderness. any help or advise would be appreciated.

The shifter forks inside the transmission probably broke, leaving the truck in gear. NO TOW TRUCK OPERATOR SHOULD HAVE TOWED THIS TRUCK REAR WHEELS DOWN WITH THE DRIVESHAFT ATTACHED TO THE REAR AXLE! PERIOD!

Now that the smoke has been let out of the transmission, it probably has suffered serious damage. Just unbolt the driveshaft from the rear axle flange, four bolts and nuts, strap the axle to the undercarriage without removing it from the transmission, and you can tow safely.Leaving the driveshaft in the transmission prevents gear lube from running out.

damn, well this was not a tow truck driver, just a buddy of mine who was trying to help. as I live 7 miles from the pavement and no tow truck driver could make it to where I am. I will try this, thank you.

I could just hear that transfer case screaming, "WHAT THE HELL IS GOIN’ ON!!!


Well, I apologize for my tone. From the way it read, I thought it was being towed by AAA. Yeah, you may have just had an expensive lesson. When you let it roll, did you need to push in the clutch to get it to roll, or does it roll on it’s own?

I know, i love this truck, and freaking nearly cried when it started blowing smoke. I hope I did not completely blow the tranny.

Did you have the transfer case in neutral? I used to have a 4x4 that was designed to tow behind an RV. The transfer case had a neutral gear that can be locked in place to disengage the driveshafts from the transmission. The transfer case would circulate the gear lube to prevent wear as the output shafts turned.

At this point you need to attempt to turn the crankshaft to verify that the engine isn’t locked up. If the tow truck pulled the pickup with the transmission locked in 1st or 2d gear and reached highway speeds the engine might be trashed. Once locked up, the clutch would be the weakest link and begin to spin and get toasted. Have you attempted to start the engine since ending the towing effort?

it rolled on its own.

and she starts up no problem and purrs. i stopped as soon as i saw the smoke…

With the unknown transmission/ transfer case condition, I’d like to amend my previous advise, and tell you to also disconnect the front diff using the same method. Better safe than sorry. But, the transmission will need to be removed, most likely. Best not to damage it further.