Transfer case won’t disengage


New member
Nov 10, 2019
I have a 1989 Ford Bronco 5.8L XLT with a BW 1356 manual transfer case and manual locking hubs . I was taking it for a test drive after having sat for a while( I changed the fluid before I drove it) and as I was driving I heard a thud which sounded like the transfer case going into gear. Now the transfer case although having the shift point showing 2H and no 4wd light on appears and sounds to be in 4H.

Please if anyone knows what is causing this and what to do let me know, I am truly stumped.

Thanks in advance



96 Bronco 5.0
Staff member
Oct 18, 2005
Coronado, CA
Yo DL,


1356 Electric Shift Operational Test; "... (engine off, hubs disengaged), crawl under the truck with the transfer case in 2HI, you should be able to grab the front drive shaft and turn it by hand. Also with the hubs disengaged you should see the front axles turning freely. Now engage the hubs and you should not be able to turn the drive shaft by hand. Jack the front wheels off the ground with the hubs engaged, turn the drive shaft by hand, the wheels should turn. The 4x4 light should not be on in 2HI, when in 4LOW you may have a low range light on, (not all trucks have that light) at least mine doesn't..."
Source: by Seabronc (Rosie, Fred W) at Ford Bronco Zone Forums

See 1356 Electric Shift Troubleshooting & Repair - BEST PROCESS!
Source: by Dustin S (Dustball, Mellow Yellow, Mr. Laser Boy) 

Start at "To check if the transfer case motor is actually functioning (because it may be hard to hear it in a noisy shop) attach a voltmeter to A4 and A5. Have someone activate a shift and look for a brief (one second) increase in voltage and listen for the relay to click on, then off.

If there is power present, then the control module is trying to run the motor. At this point, unbolt the motor and have someone activate a shift again. If the motor doesn't actually turn, it is malfunctioning and must be replaced.

If there is no power to the motor, check both the power circuits again and the sensors. If there is incorrect sensor data, the module won't power the motor."

Check Transfer Case Motor:

1356 Electric Shift Motor Typical Failures & Prevention; "...Most units fail because of water or mud intrusion. Carefully inspect motor boot or protective coverings. Be sure connector seals can keep water and debris out. Check wiring harness and connector. Replace or repair wiring as necessary. After installation, periodically select 4-wheel drive mode to ensure operation when needed..."
Source: by CARDONE®

1356 Electric Shift Motor Troubleshooting & Repair (motor travel stops)
Source: by Richard C (Bigric, Money Pit) @

Here are the 1989 EVTM, Emissions & Pre-Delivery Manuals, Partial via mrnewland1 in Google Drive @
Slow scrolling so download for the table of contents, etc.

1989 Bronco Dealer Brochure @ 1989 Ford Bronco

Free registration for some wiring diagrams (86 through 96) and Technical Service Bulletins, (80 through 96), same as by Ford @ BBB Industries- Premium Alternators, Starters, Power Steering Products | TSB's & Wiring Diagrams




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