Click for Coverage
  • JP Magazine
  • Dirt Sports + Off-Road
  • 4-Wheel & Off-Road
  • Four Wheeler
Subscribe to the Free
Newsletter
X

How to Buy a Junkyard Transfer Case

Posted in How To on August 1, 2001
Share this
Contributors: Wendy Frazier4-Wheel & Off-Road Staff
Photographers: 4-Wheel & Off-Road Staff
NP203. NP203.
NP208. NP208.

Transfer case genealogy began, as early as we can tell, in 1898 with Latil of France, who began making power packs that could replace the front axle, shaft, and horse of carts. In the ribbon of time spanning from four-wheel drive’s inception to today, transfer case technology has developed beyond any foreseeable stretch of the imagination. Large transfer case companies these days are designing chaindriven, shift-on-the-fly, magnesium cases that can withstand up to 7,890 lb-ft of torque like in the Ford Super Duty series.

The momentous last 20 years have been wrenched (OK, we mean drenched) with massive transfer caseage. This guide will help you sort through the mass and find that special transfer case that belongs to the year, make, and model for your buildup. Don’t be afraid to recline on a spare tire, lie down in the grease puddles, and get the real dirt! You’ll be at a junkyard after all, so enjoy the adventure. We did on our fieldtrip to our local Pick-Your-Part, and we definitely got down and dirty. What follows are the transfer cases you are most likely to find when you lie down under that 20 years of transfer case genealogy. Get ready to play a good ol’ game of I Spy.

’73-’79 Dodge, Ford, and GM trucks

What you’ll find: NP203

Type: Full-time four-wheel- drive, cast-iron, chaindriven case

Low range: 2:1

Why you want it: It’s full-time and easy to find, and its housing is made from heavy-duty cast iron.

Why you don’t: It weighs 170 pounds. The components may need to be replaced due to overuse. Over time, the full-time four-wheel drive could wear out other components.

'69-’93 Dodge, ’77-’79 Ford, and ’69-’91 GM trucks

What you’ll find: NP205

Type: Part-time, cast-iron, geardriven case

Low range: 1.96:1

Why you want it: One of the burliest transfer cases ever built. Made with both right- and lefthand outputs, and divorced versions. It is heavy-duty, geardriven, and relatively easy to find. The 205 is available in six different versions.

Why you don’t: The low range is an anorexic 1:96.1. The 205 may not be shift-on-the-fly for some, and confusion may exist because there are six versions. Additionally, some have a slip-yoke on the rear output.

80-’93 Dodge, ’80-’86 Ford F-series and Bronco, ’81-’88 GM trucks, and ’81-’87 Jeep fullsize trucks

What you’ll find: NP208

Type: Part-time, aluminum, chaindriven case

Low range: 2.61:1

Why you want it: The 208 is lightweight, the chain- drive operates quieter, and it is shift-on-the-fly. Two additional perks are that the case is inexpensive and easy to find.

Why you don’t: Weak slip-yoke design, aluminum housing may crack, removing the rear driveshaft causes an oil waterfall (Dodge and Jeep versions have bolt-on yokes), and several versions exist.

’88-to-present Jeep Wranglers and Cherokees, ’94-to-present Dodge ½-ton Ram pickups, ’87-to-present Dakotas, ’98-to-present Durangos, and ’89-’93 S-10 Blazers, pickups, and S-15 Jimmys and pickups

What you’ll find: NP231

Type: Part-time, aluminum, chaindriven case

Low range: 2.72:1

Why you want it: The upgrades and low-range gearsets available for the 231 are abundant. The case is lightweight and small and utilizes a fairly low low-range, and some have a true Neutral for flat towing. Additionally the slip-yoke rear shaft can be eliminated for improved driveline angles.

Why you don’t: The transfer case was designed for the lightweight vehicle and generally can’t handle big torque (or big tires). It has a weak aluminum housing, a rear slip-yoke, and a weak three-pinion planetary gearset.

’88-2000 GM pickups, ’89-2000 Blazers, Suburbans, and Jimmys, ’88-’93 Ramchargers and pickups, and ’94-to-present Dodge ¾-, and 1-ton trucks.

What you’ll find: NP241

Type: Part-time, aluminum, chaindriven case

Low range: 2.72:1

Why you want it: Strong and available in a heavy-duty version in the Ram 2500 with the snowplow prep package

Why you don’t: Watch carefully because two versions exist: an IFS version with the front output on the driver side and a solid axle version with the front output on the passenger side. The NP241 could use either a mechanical or electronic drive for your speedometer or vehicle speed sensor.

’98-to-present Dodge Durango, Dakota, Hummers, ’87-to-present Jeep Cherokees

What you’ll find: NP242 & NVG242

Type: Part-time/full-time, aluminum, chaindriven case

Low range: 2.72:1

Why you want it: Far better than the 231, the 242 allows you several options as far as routing power to your wheels. Slip-yoke eliminator kits are readily available. The Hummer uses a version of this case called the NVG242 HD AMG that has an external transfer case cooler.

Why you don’t: You do. Keep it.

’41-’71 Jeep

What you’ll find: Dana/Spicer 18

Type: Part-time, cast-iron, geardriven case

Low range: 2.46:1

Why you want it: It’s small, strong, lightweight, abundantly available, and relatively inexpensive, and you might even find one with a twin-stick shifter.

Why you don’t: The Dana 18 gears constantly spin, thus they wear out sooner, and the output uses a weak 10-spline output shaft.

’66-’77 Ford Broncos, ’72-’79 Jeep CJs except Quadra-Tracs, ’63-’72 Jeep Gladiator pickups, ’63-’64 Jeep Cherokees and Wagoneers with manual transmissions, and ’67-’73 Jeepsters/Commandos

What you’ll find: Dana 20

Type: Part-time, cast-iron, geardriven case

Low range: 2.03:1 (for Jeeps), 2.46:1 (for Fords)

Why you want it: Both Jeep and early Bronco versions have a strong housing, are small and lightweight, and can handle a fair amount of torque. The Jeep version is available practically everywhere.

Why you don’t: The Dana 20 for the Jeep contains poor low-range gearing and a low 10-spline output shaft. The Bronco versions may be difficult to find.

’80-’86 Jeep CJs and ’80 Scout II

What you’ll find: Dana 300

Type: Part-time, cast-iron, geardriven case

Low range: 2.61:1

Why you want it: Of the Dana series of transfer cases the Dana 300 contains a lower low range than most, and the round-bolt pattern allows you to clock it for better driveshaft angles. Moreover, the helical-cut gears allow for quieter and easier operation and you can sneak a peek at them by removing the removable oil pan.

Why you don’t: The Dana 300 needs to be internally modified to allow for flat towing. It has a weak output shaft, which can be upgraded, and an aluminum tailhousing.

Other Sightings

’80-’86 Ford F-Series and Broncos

What you’ll find: Borg-Warner 1345

Type: Part-time, aluminum, chaindriven case

Low range: 2.74:1

’83-’93 Ford Bronco II, Explorer, and Ranger

What you’ll find: Borg-Warner 1350

Type: Part-time, aluminum, chaindriven case

Low range: 2.48:1

’87-’93 Ford F-Series, and Broncos

What you’ll find: Borg-Warner 1356

Type: Part-time, magnesium, chaindriven case

Low range: 2.69:1

’89-’93 GM 1-ton dual rear-wheel trucks

What you’ll find: Borg-Warner 1370

Type: Part-time, aluminum, chaindriven case

Low range: 2.69:1

When You’re the Lucky One When You’re the Lucky One

While late-model stuff is out there (due to the unlucky drivers with their new vehicles) it is a little difficult to find these components at a junkyard. Perhaps your best bet is to hook up with someone who has the inside scoop on when totaled new 4x4s come into the yard if you do in fact want or need a later-model transfer case. Here’s what you can put on your do-you-have-this-part list.

’98-to-present GM ½- and ¾-ton pickups, Tahoes, Suburbans, Yukons, Denalis, and Escalades

What you’ll find: NVG246

Type: Autotrac part-time case that always spins the front driveshaft, aluminum, chaindriven

Low range: 2.72:1

’99-to-present ¾- and 1-ton GM trucks

What you’ll find: NVG261

Type: Part-time, magnesium, chaindriven case

Low range: 2.72:1

’01-to-present ¾- and 1-ton GM trucks

What you’ll find: NVG263

Type: Part-time, magnesium, electric shift, chaindriven case

Low range: 2.72:1

’99-to-present Ford Super Duty and Excursion

What you’ll find: NVG271 (manual shifter) NVG273 (electronic shifter) Type: Part-time, magnesium, chaindriven case

Low range: 2.72:1

’98-to-present GM ½- and ¾-ton pickups, Tahoes, Suburbans, Yukons, Denalis, and Escalades What you’ll find: NVG246 Type: Autotrac part-time case that always spins the front driveshaft, aluminum, chaindriven Low range: 2.72:1 ’99-to-present ¾- and 1-ton GM trucks What you’ll find: NVG261 Type: Part-time, magnesium, chaindriven case Low range: 2.72:1 ’01-to-present ¾- and 1-ton GM trucks What you’ll find: NVG263 Type: Part-time, magnesium, electric shift, chaindriven case Low range: 2.72:1 ’99-to-present Ford Super Duty and Excursion What you’ll find: NVG271 (manual shifter) NVG273 (electronic shifter) Type: Part-time, magnesium, chaindriven case Low range: 2.72:1

Connect With Us

Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to the Magazine

Browse Articles By Vehicle

See Results