I want to know if I’ve done damage

I have a 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe all wheel drive. It’s a V6 3.0 liter. I recently towed my all wheel drive on a tow dolly. I had the front wheels loaded on the dolly. I drove no more than 3 miles and the rear wheels locked up. I immediately stopped the vehicle. I moved the vehicle onto a flat bed tow to my house. I’ve not driven the vehicle long distances since this happened. I took it on a short test drive and it’s shifting fine. I can also put the car in reverse. I just want to ask if there is any precautionary things I should address immediately in regards to my Hyundai Santa Fe? I want to make sure it’s ok before I drive it. I appreciate any information.

Since it seems to be working now, good chance no serious damage. But what does your owner’s manual recommend about towing? AWD, towing can be a little tricky.

Hard to say from out here on the internet whether you damaged anything… Just keep an eye and ear on things and never, ever tow an AWD with 2 wheels on the ground again.


I believe the problem would be with the transfer case not the transmission. That is what sends power to the rear differential. I don’t know how you would test if 4 wheel drive still works or not. Might try changing the fluid but I think a dealer would need to inspect it and the differential.

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My guess is that you trashed your transfer case and a chunk of metal got wedged, causing the rear wheels to lock up. If so, that could easily happen again. Do you have power going to the rear wheels now?

I think the viscous coupling in the transfer unit overheated and locked. This caused the rear wheels to operate at the same speed as the front; stopped.

After this event, you may not have the same AWD grip as you had before.

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Maybe have the fluid changed and inspected for bits of metal and stuff. Either way, if it got hot enough to do this, the fluid may be broken down and should be changed no matter what.

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Yes, change the fluid, with factory fluid.

What fluids would you suggest I change?

The fluid in the center differential or viscous coupling.

It’s called the transfer case. You have the transmission,transfer case, and the differential. I have them all changed every 30k.

But I think they should pull th cover off the transfer case if there is one and look for broken pieces and damage. Probably do the same to the differential. Locking the wheels up couldn’t have been good for it.

From what I can find out, the AWD coupling containing the clutch pack that apparently overheated is at the front of the rear differential. I don’t know if the fluid can be changed in that, but it’s worth a try. Change the other fluids, just to be sure (transfer case and front differential). Check your owners manual to see what fluids can be changed.

fyi, when all four wheels are powered by the engine the vehicle design has to allow for a little drive-train slippage between the front and rear wheels. On full-time 4WD vehicles, this is done w/differential gears in transfer case. Part time 4WD configurations, no xfer case differential gears. Instead the manufacturer would direct owner to not use vehicle on paved roads in 4WD mode; use 4WD only on dirt roads, where the dirt allows the wheels to slip, 2WD mode on pavement.

Your full time AWD vehicle doesn’t use transfer case differential gears. It uses something called a viscous coupler instead. Less weight, smaller, so fits the available space better. A viscous coupler uses something akin to a fluid-coupled automatic transmission torque converter. Not exactly the same, but similar idea. Allows mechanical power to transfer from fore to aft and still provide some slipping.

Bet it doesn’t have a 3.0L V6.

Uh oh

Sounds like the center diff oveheated and/or possibly failed

This isn’t going to affect the transmission. It’s likely fine. What happened, happened to the center differential, it’s responsible for shifting power to and from the rear axle/drivetrain.

Put the vehicle in a situation where it needs to send power to the rear wheels and see if there are any problems.