PLEASE SEE UPATE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE ORIGINAL POST
I recently started to experience erratic transfer case problems with my 04 Armada LE while taking my family out of town for Thanksgiving (of course it couldn't happen while I was around my house but had to wait for me to be hundreds of miles away from anything
). I read about several similar issues on this site but with one difference. Here are the symptoms:
1) 4WD mode comes on erratically while the car is in 2WD.
2) Switching to "Auto" shifts the mode to all wheel drive all of the time.
3) While driving at lower speeds (40 mph or so) the transfer case occasionally tries to switch between modes with clunking and jerking sounds and motions.
I was able to reset the controller by shutting the engine off in neutral with no brake engaged, putting the shifter to park, waiting 10 seconds, and then starting the car up again. After resetting, I've kept the car in 2WD and haven't seen the 4WD light up since (yet). No clunking, either.
From what I've read, it appears that the relays on the transfer case may be bad. Because I'm far from my tools and jacks, I can't lift the car to get underneath and look or replace relays. The transfer controller may be bad, too, but I can't determine that until I get back.
1) What are the steps needed to get the transfer controller to flash codes?
2) Am I on the right track with my initial hunch regarding the cause of the problem?
I will go through a full investigation when I get home, but I'm 500 miles away now and need to make sure the drive train will get me home on Sunday.
UPDATE: -- SUNDAY
DAMN, THINGS WENT TO HELL TODAY!
My worst fears came true...after two days of no problems (resetting the transfer controller had been working), today everything went down the toilet while in the middle of nowhere. We were halfway between Knoxville and Asheville when the 4WD, VDC, ABC and SLIP lights came on, bucking at the transfer case, right front wheel locking up and grinding the pad to a smoldering mess. I had to pull over and let the brakes cool and then decided to limp the car back to Knoxville. Towing was not an option as we were in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE! Once we got back to Knoxville, my family rented a car one way so they could get back home for school, etc., and I will deal with the car service here until it's fixed.
The intermittent ABS braking on the front right wheel and the grinding/jerking of the transfer case in the mountains as we headed for level land made for the most frightening drive of my life. I've driven in some very dicey situations, but this one takes the cake by far. There is nothing worse than when the computers crap all over themselves and create such a dangerous situation.
Tomorrow, I will take the car a few miles from my hotel room to a Nissan dealership because I have no choice. I suspect that the BCM and front right wheel sensor are shot as well as the T/F and VDC relays and perhaps the whole transfer controller box. The front right pad and rotor are certainly fried beyond all hope and will need to be replaced. I'm hoping/praying (perhaps futilely
) that the transfer gears are okay, but I really don't know at this stage.
ANYONE WITH POINTERS, SUGGESTIONS, ETC., PLEASE PM ME OR REPLY TO THIS THREAD. I'M NOW STUCK AND NEED TO GET THIS REPAIRED AND BACK HOME. THANKS!!
UPDATE: -- MONDAY
Initial assessment from Twin Cities Nissan in Alcoa, TN: Right wheel hub began to disintegrate internally and took out the wheel sensor with it. Because of the gradual collapsing of the hub initially (and then very rapidly at the end), the wheel began to cant inward and outward and the rotor rubbed against the pads at an angle (with no brake pressure applied) and then rubbed a good 1/4" - 1/2" off of the brake caliper mount itself. CV boot was shredded from the flying metal shards coming off of the broken hub. What I thought was an ABS failure with the calipers grabbing the rotor was actually the rotor rubbing furiously on the pads and brake mount. The ABS, VDC, SLIP and 4WD lights were on due to the failed wheel sensor that either burned up from the intense friction or was taken out by the metal flying from the wheel hub itself.
the plan is to replace the caliper mount, BOTH front wheel hubs with sensors (I asked that the left one be replaced, too, since it might also fail with similar miles on it as the right one), rotors/pads, CV boot, diagnostics on the transfer case controller and BCM (just to be sure they're good), brake line flush and bleed.
Had I driven the car much further, the wheel hub would have completely failed. Since I was nearing the mountains of Western NC, such a failure would have been catastrophic. Anyone who has been on that stretch of I-40 knows what I'm talking about.
I would like to thank Kooshtaka
, and ntrddragn
for responding and trying to help with this problem. You guys are good in my book!