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sense it seems to slip only when the fluid is cold and thick..
the first thing to try here is a new filter
it sounds as if it is clogged up
with it being clogged,it would be hard for the cold thicker fluid to go through a clogged filter
after the trans warms a little,,the fluid gets much thinner
thus,letting it go though the filter better,giving it more pressure
letting this trans shift better
though it does bother me that it is slipping going into 3rd
allot of people never change the filter till its too late
and it is somewhat common for the 3-4 clutches to burn out from neglect
so,,change the filter and the fluid
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well....the way you check this is to see if it holds in park
if it holds in park,,then you know the transfer case is connecting,,and the transfer case isnt the problem
if it dont hold in park,,then,it may be the case