One of the questions that we get asked all of the time is "how do you shift the Atlas?"
Shifting an Atlas:
Shifting from High range to Low range:
Verify that the "FRONT" lever is in NEUTRAL.
Bring the vehicle to a speed of about 3-5mph and place the transmission into neutral.
Shift the "REAR" lever into NEUTRAL. As the vehicle continues roll forward, smoothly apply pressure to the "REAR" lever toward the LOW position and continue to apply pressure until the Atlas drops into REAR LOW. Depending on which low range ratio is installed in your Atlas, the shift will usually complete just before the vehicle rolls to a stop.
Place the transmission back into gear and resume driving.
If 4WD LOW is desired, then shift the "FRONT" lever into the LOW position while the vehicle is moving straight forward.
Shifting from Low range to High range:
Bring the vehicle up to a speed of 5-20mph and shift the transmission into neutral.
Shift both transfer case shift levers into neutral.
Apply pressure to the "REAR" lever toward the HIGH position until the Atlas completes the shift into REAR-HIGH (2wd high).
Put the transmission back into gear and resume driving.
If 4WD HIGH is desired then shift the "FRONT" lever into the HIGH position.
Once the above process is learned, it will take you about 3 seconds to complete the shifting sequence.
What to do if the moving vehicle shift was not successful (shifting while stationary):
Manual Transmission: Put the transmission into gear (with vehicle still stationary) and feather the clutch while re-attempting the desired shift by holding steady pressure on the shift lever. Repeat as needed.
Automatic Transmission : Shift the transmission from drive to reverse while maintaining pressure on the desired transfer case shifter lever. DO NOT SHIFT THE TRANSMISSION INTO PARK. If unsuccessful, turn off the engine with the transmission still in neutral. Now shift the transfer case into gear and re-start the engine.
General notes on Shifting:
1. The Atlas Transfer Case is a Synchronized gear box. This means that in order for the case to shift easily and smoothly the vehicle must be moving in a forward direction. This will allow the synchronizers to function properly. Note that when the transfer case is shifted when not in motion, the teeth may or may not be aligned. If the teeth are aligned, then the unit will slip into gear easily. If the unit does not slip into gear easily, then no amount of pulling on the lever will cause the unit to shift, under these circumstances. Once the transfer case is allowed to rotate slightly, or the binding is relieved it should slip right into gear.
2. The Atlas transfer case will not allow the unit to be shifted into front wheel drive high range. This dictates the sequence of shifting the front and rear axles in and out of high range. One way of thinking about this can be that Rear-High is the path to/from low range. When shifting into high range, the rear axle must be shifted first and when shifting out of high range the front axle must be first.
3. The Atlas is classified as a Part-Time Transfer case. As with all part-time transfer cases, 4wd should be used in low traction conditions only. Anytime the unit is in 4wd low or 4wd high, the rear output and the front output are locked to each other and can only spin at the exact same speed. This characteristic is essential for extreme off road usage but becomes a hindrance on dry pavement.
When a vehicle turns a corner, the front driveshaft spins at a different speed than the rear driveshaft. This creates a binding in the drive train if the tires cannot slip to relieve this torque. How does this relate to shifting an Atlas? When being operated in high traction conditions, the Atlas will not shift to its potential, especially when shifting out of 4wd. If the transfer case becomes stuck in 4wd, try driving at least half of the vehicle onto a surface that will allow the tires to slip before re-attempting to shift out of 4wd. Deactivating locking differentials (if applicable) will also help in this situation.
Follow the instructions above, and with a little practice you will be shifting like a pro in no time.