Transfer Case Explained: Why It is Used in Vehicles

If you have purchased a new vehicle for yourself for the first time, it is natural that you might not have knowledge about how it works and what are the different components used in it. But it is important that you understand the basics of your vehicle so that when the need arises, you are ready to get the minor repairs done yourself and get going.

If you own a four-wheel-drive or an all-wheel-drive vehicle, then you might have definitely heard about transfer cases. However, if you do not understand what a transfer case actually is, and why it is used in vehicles, we will help you understand this in detail.

What is a Transfer Case?

Transfer Case is devices used in four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicles to transmit the power generated by the engine from the transmission to all the wheels of the vehicle.

As you might expect, the transfer cases equally divide the power generated by the engine among all the wheels of the vehicle. For example, if a vehicle has four wheels, the transfer case divides the engine brake power by four and distributes it equally among all four wheels.

How Does It Work?

A transfer case is a part of the drive train, and as already mentioned above, it transfers the power from the transmission to both the front and the rear axles of the vehicle. This is made possible by using driveshafts in the system.

Apart from that, the device also synchronizes the difference between the rotation of the front wheels and the rear wheels. It contains at least one (or more) sets of low-range gears for off-road applications.

The transmission of power is done using either gears, hydraulics, or chain drive. In some high-end off-road vehicles, the control for the functioning of the transfer case is given in the hands of the driver in the driver’s cabin.

A driver can put the transfer case into either four-wheel drive or two-wheel drive mode, in accordance to the need while driving. In some all-wheel-drive sports cars, the transfer cases are not selectable, in which cases it is permanently locked into all-wheel-drive mode.

The best use case of a transfer case is to lock either the front or rear driveshafts mechanically. For example, if you are using your vehicle off-road, and if one of your axles are stuck in the mud or on a slippery surface, you can mechanically lock the axle to gain better traction and get your vehicle out easily.


While every automotive component has its specific use, the transfer case is a part of the drive train and is used to share the engine power equally among the front and rear axles of the vehicle.

The device also helps in synchronizing the rotation of the front and the rear wheels and is typically used in vehicles meant for off-road use. In some high-end off-road vehicles, the driver of the vehicles can use this device to switch between four-wheel drive or two-wheel drive, depending upon the need.

News Reporter