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Dj
Dj, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Toyota
Satisfied Customers: 1910
Experience:  ASE Master Tech, 30+ years in automotive repair.
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Toyota 4runner: , I have a 1994 4runner, V6, 4wd, automatic

Customer Question

Hi, I have a 1994 4runner, V6, 4wd, automatic with 226,000 miles. When I bought it did not run so I was not able to drive it. When I got it running I put it into gear and it acted like it was in neutral, it did nothing in drive or reverse. After a few minutes I moved the 4wd handle into 4L and then back to 2H. After I did this I was able to drive the truck like normal in 2H. It shifted fine. I have owned the 4runner for about 5 weeks now and it has done this 4 other times. I now have the front differential out because I was resealing the oil pan due to a bad leak. I also have the exhaust off and other components. I am considering putting a new transmission in it while it is apart but I don't really know if it needs it. I know there are also 3 shift solenoids in there but I don't know anything about them. I also noticed that the front drive shaft turns freely by hand know matter where the 4wd lever is placed. I am not sure the 4wd even works. What are your thoughts?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Toyota
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Even with the 4runner in park I am able to turn the front drive shaft by hand. Don't know if this is normal or not.
Expert:  Dj replied 1 year ago.
Hello and thank you for trusting us with your question. I'm DJ.This doesn't sound like a transmission problem. There are three solenoids in the transmission. Number 3 is just for torque converter lockup. It doesn't do anything else.Number 1 and 2 determine which forward gear the transmission goes into. The ECU turns them on and off and that ultimately selects a gear. Here's the pattern.Number 1 engaged and number 2 not engaged equals 1st gear or low.Number 1 engaged and number 2 engaged equals 2nd gear.Number 1 not engaged and number 2 engaged equals 3rd gear.Number 1 not engaged and number 2 not engaged equals 4th gear or overdrive.If you put the transmission in low gear, it overrides the solenoids and gives you low.So you can see that the solenoids no matter what they do won't give you the problem that you have.Do you know if the front end has manual hubs or automatic hubs? Is there an actuator mounted on the differential? I expect the problem is in the transfer case. Even if the front driveshaft was gone, the truck should still move with the back differential.And since the problem is intermittent, the most likely cause is the transfer case lever not moving fully and allowing the gears in the transfer case to engage.These transmissions are the most reliable in the business. Except for the solenoids, they just don't fail. So I wouldn't replace it.My recommendation is to get the motor back together and do more testing on the transfer case and see if the front hubs are locked in or not. Then attack the transfer case.Please let me know if you have any additional questions on this or if there is anything more I can do to help you.DJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi DJ,
Thanks for the reply. I do have automatic hubs in the front (AUTOMATIC DISCONNECTING DIFFERENTIAL). I have tested the actuator on the front of the differential with vacuum and it does operate. I will take your advice and put everything back together and do some troubleshooting. I am not sure what you mean by the transfer case lever. Is there a test for this lever. You mean the mechanical lever? If the transfer case turns out to have an internal problem can it be replaced? I thought I read somewhere that the transfer case is a build in part of the transmission.
Mark
Expert:  Dj replied 1 year ago.
Mark,
There are two different transfer cases that were used by Toyota. Yours should be the planetary gear one.
With planetary gears, it takes a very small amount of movement to engage and disengage. So if the mechanical lever isn't moving fully or one of the forks is bent, it won't go into gear.
The transfer case can be separated from the transmission. I've never repaired the internal workings because it's much cheaper just to put in another used one. You can usually get them for $150-$200.

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