Ford Ranger 4 wheel drive problems

Hello everyone,
I have a 2006 Ford Ranger XLT manual shift 4.0 engine with 157,000 miles. This vehicle runs very well and is in near perfect condition except for the 4 wheel drive system. It binds up and the truck simply does not want to move. It overheats causing white smoke to appear. My mechanic whom I trust fully replaced the actuator with no improvement. When in 2 wheel drive the truck runs normally. He now wants to replace the transfer case with a rebuilt one from Jasper for $3,000. This is a huge sum which I am not willing to pay. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

I know this may sound really basic, but, are all 4 tires the same size, same amount of wear? Have the differentials been check for ring and pinion binding and/or unusual wear?

“your mechanic” is over his head. Don’t let him do any more. Even the dealer mis read the 4wd actuator problem I had and if I went with his advice, it would have cost me $2300 dollars to fix and it still would not have worked. And, I had an 04 ! I got it fixed for free eventually with the manufacturer footing the bill. Not that you can but at least, contact a manufacturer service advisor, get the contact numbers through a Ford dealer and if you have to, have the dealer examine it and with the manufacturer help. At least get a good reliable evaluation. Then, have whomever fix it, even an independent. Your mechanic could be your best buddie, but you need a team approach some times. Same with your health and doctors. Go to a team of experts. ( if you find the fix is too expensive, trade it or it’s now just two wheel drive) All are options.

PvtPublic: Thank you for your comment. All tires and wheels are the same with appropriate wear. I assume you are referring to the front differential? I don’t know if this was checked out. I will ask about it.


I got it fixed for free eventually with the manufacturer footing the bill.

What was the fix, if you don’t mind?

dagosa: Thanks for your help. I’m extremely reluctant to approach a dealer as I believe they are thieves. I will try reaching out to Ford but a “manufacturer advisor” is a new term to me. I’m not sure how to handle this but will try to follow your suggestions.

My truck had two actuators. One for the transfer case and one for the front differential . The position switch was faulty. The front actuator was the problem…maybe yours too ? But, when the actuator actually fails completely, it’s an easy thing to determine on a lift. I would doubt a mechanic got the two mixed up.

You DONOT have to have the dealer fix it…you can get it evaluated. Remember, you get what you pay for. You are already out $$$$money for a fix you didn’t need from someone you trust. What does that tell you ? You need to go somewhere else.

Try to get to a customer service representative and ask if your mechanic can communicate with a factory technician before he does anything else.

When you experience the binding you speak of, you aren’t trying to turn the vehicle on a hard surface (dry or wet pavement) are you?

FoDaddy, yes, I noticed the binding when at slow speeds turning into a parking spot. This did make me suspicious re the differential, but since I’m not a mechanic, I let my mechanic tell me. At this point I’ll go to the Ford dealership near me and discuss this with them. My knowledge of differentials is tiny, and I’m not comfortable with any of this.

Have you been running you truck in 4wd on dry surfaces regularly ? The binding Is “normal” for this type of part time 4wd system. It is only made to run on slippery surfaces and off road conditions. Running it engaged on dry or even wet pavement can damage it.

dagosa, I have used 4wd only in snowy conditions–here in NE Pennsylvania this winter has been severe and I have not used it on dry roads or in excess of 30 mph.

@galaxy If you’re on pavement, even wet pavement, and you’re in 4WD you’re going to get driveline binding when you make a sharp turn, all 4WD vehicles will do this, and it does not mean there’s anything wrong with the vehicle. If you’re experiencing driveline binding, that’s a hint that you shouldn’t be in 4WD on that surface at that time. If you force the vehicle into turning whilst experiencing driveline biding you can easily break something (U joints being pretty common).

If you’re only experiencing this binding when you’re turning in 4WD, I’m inclined to say that it may just be a case of user error, if you’d made a habit of doing this, then you may have done some damage already though.