You have no items in your shopping cart.
Back to All Blog Posts

What is A Transfer Case and What Does it Do

Advance Adapters sells a large assortment of transfer cases and accessories to go off-roading. But if you’re new to customizing an SUV or truck, you might be wondering what a transfer case is and why you need one for your vehicle. In this guide to transfer cases, we’re looking at how they work and the importance of installing one. Whether you prefer exploring trails, jumping dunes or crawling over rocks, we’ll help you get the best performance.

How a Transfer Case Works

As part of the vehicle’s drivetrain, a transfer case is a crucial component — not just in four-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive rides, but just about every vehicle. It’s what transfers engine power and torque from the transmission to the driveshafts. In turn, the driveshafts carry that power to the axles. A transfer case also coordinates the front and rear axle rotation to keep it uniform and reduce the chances of wheel spin.

In some ways, transfer cases function much like differentials. The difference is that the transfer case sends power to the entire axle(s) while a differential sends power to two different wheels on the same axle. It is common for modern off-road vehicles to have both a transfer case and differentials to control torque.

Off-Road Transfer Cases

When choosing a transfer case, you’ll often have a choice between a chain-driven or gear-driven case. Most modern transfer cases are chain-driven because they are quieter and lighter. Although this is typically fine for everyday driving, many off-roaders still prefer the older gear-driven transfer case design. They can handle more torque and won’t stretch like chains sometimes do.

In addition to the drive design, the transfer case for an off-road vehicle can have many other configurations. Some four-wheel-drive transfer cases can lock the front and rear driveshafts to make sure the torque for both is equal. You may also have the option to purchase a multi-speed transfer case. These let you change to a lower gear ratio so you have extra torque when climbing mountains or pulling trailers.

A transfer case can have a married or divorced/independent housing. Married transfer cases are directly bolted to the transmission and are sometimes even in the same housing. Independent transfer cases are further down the driveline and have their own driveshaft to connect to the transmission. This arrangement is common for long-wheelbase vehicles; it also makes swapping engines and transmissions easier in a modified 4x4 vehicle without altering the 4WD setup.

Finally, if you have an on-the-fly transfer case that can switch between two-wheel and four-wheel drive, there is the choice of a manual shift or electronic shift selector.

Get the Best Transfer Case

If you want to upgrade or replace the transfer case on your vehicle, Advance Adapters has a solution. We sell heavy-duty Atlas transfer cases and Orion transfer cases along with parts, accessories and gearing options. Use our search options to find a transfer case that is a perfect match for your vehicle transmission and engine package.