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Transfer Case Repair Cost: 2023 Price Comparison


If your transfer case is going out, it might be time to get a new vehicle.

The transfer case distributes power between wheels – whether you have a four-wheel or all-wheel drive.

But, replacing one will typically cost upwards of $2,000-$8,000. On the other hand, you may be able to repair your transfer case, greatly saving costs on parts, but adding to labor costs. 

So, what is the average cost of repairing a transfer case?

In most cases, it’s $200-$700 for simple repairs like replacing the output shaft seal or sealing holes. However, chances are high that your transfer case can’t be repaired, which means you may have to pay for replacement, at around $3,000 – averaging $2,400 in parts and $640 in labor. 

The table below shares a quick price comparison of transfer case repair cost estimates from reputable suppliers: 

SupplierFluid Change Output Shaft SealCrack Patch Replacement 
Walmart$9.66-$62.99 (Fluid only)$5.96-$66.95NA$435-$855 (Transfer case only)
Pep Boys $126-$190$170-$850$300-$450$2,100-$3,200
Amazon $8-$67 (Fluid only)$2.79-$95.76 (Seal only)NA$380-$1,590 (Transfer case only)
AutoZone $13.99 (Fluid only)$2.50-$103.99 (Seal only)NA$639-$5,209

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How Much Does Transfer Case Repair Cost?*

The cost of repairing or replacing a transfer case will heavily depend on the make and model of the vehicle in question.

Here, other factors like the part being repaired will also impact costs – which means the same “repair” job can cost anywhere from $100 to over $5,000. 

Vehicle Transfer Case Cost Cost of Labor 
Ford F150$677-$1,499.99$395-$770
Nissan Pathfinder $581.99-$2,880$477-$829
Ford Ranger $544.99-$1,294.75$376-$785 
Ford F250 $1,224.99-$2,266$389-$795 
Toyota Camry $656-$2,138.30$539-$941
Subaru Forester$422.99-$1,237$490-$1,225
Chevy Tahoe $1,699.95-$2,478$381-$500
Toyota Rav4$382.99-$2,522.40$394-$790
Chevy Impala $1,600-$2,100$460-$980
Jeep Grand Cherokee $1,190-$1,345$840-$1,980
Chevy Silverado $1,430-$1,601$345-$820

*Note: Prices are estimates and were correct at the time of writing in June 2023. Cost estimates may have changed since. Our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.

What Is A Transfer Case?

In a two-wheel drive car, you distribute force from the engine to the transmission and from there to a single axle. In a multi-wheel drive such as a four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle, you have to distribute force between more axles.

To do that, you use a transfer case to evenly distribute mechanical force from the transmission to the wheels. 

That becomes complicated with some setups, because you might drive from a specific wheel set or wheel based on needs; e.g., many modern vehicles leverage shifting mechanical force to assist with pulling, cornering, and moving through difficult terrain.

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That dynamic distribution of power requires complex and intricate machinery to make it work – and that’s all in the transfer case. 

No matter what kind of vehicle you have, the transfer case is housed on the drive shaft, typically between the transmission and the back wheels. This means it’s relatively straightforward to replace.

However, repairs can be costly – as parts can be expensive and replacing the full case is very expensive. 

4 Transfer Case Repair Pricing Factors

The cost of repairing a transfer case will mostly depend on the vehicle and the cost of parts.

However, the cost of labor will also play a part. 

1. Parts to Repair/Replace

A transfer case is a very complicated mechanism with dozens of parts. For example, you might have to replace the following: 

  • Switch ($12-$200 for the part)
  • Shifter linkage bushings ($5-$80)
  • Shifter control linkage ($50-$250)
  • Safety switch ($25-$120)
  • Gaskets ($12-$56)
  • Seals ($2-$280)
  • Relay Connector ($56-$320)
  • Motor ($130-$500)
  • Chain ($40-$180)
  • Fork ($34-$220)
  • Input shaft ($45-$220)
  • Output shaft ($45-$220)
  • Control module ($150-$600)
  • Position sensor ($120-$400)
  • Case Housing ($150-$600)

This means that the cost of replacement parts can vary greatly. In addition, if you take apart the transfer case, you’ll always have to top up the fluid, which can cost $20-$80. 

That’s before considering the cost of labor, which can also be considerable. 

2. Condition of Part

In some cases, your technician may recommend that you simply replace your transfer case with a secondhand part. That may also be the case if you’re replacing something specific internally like the linkage or the motor. 

Buying replacement parts secondhand can cut the total cost down to about a third for mechanical parts. For example, secondhand transfer cases normally start at around $350-$500.

On the other hand, it may not be the best idea to choose a secondhand transfer case. For example, if you still have a warranty or if you expect the vehicle to last for more than 10 years – opting for a secondhand option may mean that the transfer case does not make it to the end of lifespan of the vehicle. 

Therefore, it’s always a good idea to discuss options with your technician. 

In addition, not all manufacturers will even sell new transfer cases fully assembled for their vehicles. In this case, you’ll have to build the transfer case from parts or simply rebuild your existing one. 

3. Cost of Labor/Time to Repair

On average, you can expect it to take about 5 hours of time to replace a transfer case or a part in it. If you want to repair a crack, or disassemble and rebuild the full case, you’ll need more time. However, you can typically calculate about 5 hours for the job.

At the national average of $50-$75 per hour for a general mechanic, that’s a minimum of $250 in labor. Chain shops like Midas, Pep Boys, etc., normally start at around $95, so you’ll pay a minimum of about $480.

On the other hand, if you go to a dealership, rates usually start at about $150 and sometimes over $200. 

  • Repairing a seal – 2-4 hours 
  • Replacing the motor – 2-4 hours 
  • Replacing the case – 2-4 hours 
  • Rebuilding the case – 4-8 hours
  • Replacing the chain – 3-8 hours 

Labor costs normally average between $350 and $500 for a repair job. They go up to $600 for a replacement job. And, if you’re paying for a rebuild, you might spend up to $1,600 on labor. 

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In addition, if you’re taking your vehicle to a shop, you’ll pay $5-$25 a day in lot fees plus a 5-20% fee in shop fees. This means that if your bill could look like this: 

  • 5 hours of labor – $425 
  • Replacement motor – $378
  • Replacement link shift bushings – $12.78 
  • Fluid – $52.99
  • Lot fee – $5 
  • Shop Fee: $131.06

Total: $1,004.80

4. Make and Model of Vehicle 

The make and model of the vehicle will impact the cost of parts and the cost of labor. For example, if you buy a Jeep transfer case, it’s usually priced at under $1,500 new – but the cost of labor can be $1,500 at a Jeep dealership.

On the other hand, GM charges up to $2,700 for a new transfer case – but labor is likely to be around $370. So, costs vary a lot depending on your vehicle. 

Symptoms Of A Bad Transfer Case 

If your transfer case is going out, it will be very similar to any other drivetrain or transmission issues.

Therefore, you’ll likely need an inspection to verify that the issue is a transfer case problem and not the transmission, flywheel, drivetrain, etc. 

1. Trouble Shifting Gears

One of the most common transfer case issues is a fluid leak. When this happens, the system loses pressure and you’ll need more mechanical force to shift gears. That could mean that you have trouble or cannot shift gears.

Of course, this problem could also be anything in your gearbox, transmission, or shift linkage system – so you’ll need an inspection to rule out other causes. You can also inspect for fluid leakage or low fluid to see if that’s the issue. 

2. Grinding or Rattling 

Your transfer case should not make noises. But, if you’re hearing whining, grinding, or humming from the back of the vehicle, it’s very likely to be a transfer case issue.

These sounds mean that a gear is worn down, the chain is damaged, the fluid is low, or there’s a fluid leak – which can result in high-pitched sounds because of the fluid pressure. 

In each case, you’ll want to take the issue very seriously, as switching to 2WD or 4WD with the transfer case in this state can severely damage the vehicle. 

3. Slipping Out of or Stuck in 4WD

If your vehicle is slipping out of the four-wheel drive or it won’t engage/disengage with the four-wheel drive, to begin with, it’s likely a gear issue inside the transfer case. However, that could be because of the shift mechanism or low transfer case fluid.

So, your first step should be to check the fluid level. Then, check for leaks and ensure that you don’t have a broken seal or a ruptured case. 

4. Warning Light

If your 4WD warning light is on, it normally means that something is wrong with the drivetrain, including the transmission, the driveshaft, or the transfer case.

Taking your vehicle in for a checkup is a good follow-up step. 

5. Fluid Leaks

If your transfer case is leaking fluid, it’s going out. This will always mean you have to either repair a hole, replace a gasket or seal, or replace the case itself.

Fluid leaks can damage your transfer case by reducing pressure, meaning that gears and chains experience too much mechanical pressure when shifting.

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Driving with a fluid leak can mean replacing your entire transfer case, which will cost significantly more than stopping and repairing the issue. 

How Do You Repair A Bad Transfer Case? (12 Steps)

There are dozens of things that can go wrong with a transfer case. However, the output shaft seal is one of the most common issues.

This guide will talk you through removing the transfer case and then replacing the seal. 

Things You’ll Need: 

  • Allen wrench set 
  • Hammer
  • Breaker bar
  • Drain pan 
  • Box wrenches
  • Jack stands
  • Floor jack 
  • Lubricant 
  • Gloves 
  • Ratchet and socket set (to match your vehicle) 
  • Torque wrench 
  • Wheel chocks 
  • Replacement fluid 
  • Penetrating fluid 
  • Seal installer tool 
  • Replacement seals for your engine (check that it’s for your transfer case, any generic part is not good enough) 


  1. Park your vehicle and chock the front wheels. Set the car in 1st or in Park and turn the car off. Remove the key from the ignition. 
  2. Jack up the back of the car and stabilize it with at least two jack stands.
  3. Spray the bolts attaching the drive shaft to the transfer case with penetrating fluid. Let them sit for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Use a breaker bar to separate the drive shaft from the rear axle. You’ll need a large screwdriver or a prybar to get the axle out of the yoke. Be careful not to lose the caps to the universal joint. 
  5. Use a piece of chalk to mark the slip yoke and housing for timing so you can put it back the same way. Putting it back differently will result in vibration.
  6. Insert a drainage pan under the slip yoke of the drive shaft, then unbolt the driveshaft from the transfer case output shaft.
  7. Pull the seal out of the housing. Most mechanics prefer to use a seal removal tool. However, you can also use two flat-head screwdrivers to pop the seal back up.
  8. Clean the housing and ensure that there’s no residue or debris.
  9. Use silicon grease to put a fine film on the outside area of the new seal.
  10. Put the seal into place and use a seal installer and a hammer to pop the seal into place.
  11. Put the system back together in reverse order.
  12. Top up the fluid levels.

Related Questions 

If you still have questions about repairing your transfer case, the following answers should help. 

Can a transfer case be replaced?

Yes. However, it may be difficult to find a replacement transfer case for your vehicle.

In most cases, the transfer case is intended to last the lifetime of the vehicle. This means that it’s much easier to get small parts like seals, motors, etc., that are more likely to wear down.

Replacing those means taking the transfer case out, opening it up, and swapping out the parts. 

Is it cheaper to rebuild or replace a transfer case? 

It’s normally cheaper to rebuild a transfer case than to replace it. However, depending on the local cost of labor and the cost of parts, they could be about the same price.

A new transfer case is usually about $2,500. On the other hand, you could get a full rebuild for about $1,000. 

Can you drive with a bad transfer case? 

You should not drive with a bad transfer case because it can damage your 2WD or 4WD, resulting in much higher repair costs.

However, if you keep the fluid topped up, you can technically drive the vehicle. 


If your transfer case is leaking or making noise, you’ll have to repair or replace it. Depending on the issue, either option might be the best. In addition, not all cracks and tears can be repaired, because often, the case is under a massive amount of pressure. However, you can expect about $200 and $700 for most repairs, including labor. On the other hand, you can often expect to pay $2,500-$4,000 – but as much as twice that – for a replacement. 

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