Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Front Axle Engagement Switch

The clutch engagement switch is a component that is commonly found on four-wheel drive vehicles. As its name implies, it is the switch that controls the engagement of the front axles. When the switch is activated, the front differential is engaged, giving power to the front wheels. Depending on the specific setup of the vehicle, the axle engagement switch may either be a dash mounted electrical switch or a mechanical lever. While most four-wheel drive components are built for a long service life, they can be prone to issues over time. Usually a bad or failing clutch engagement switch will produce a few symptoms that can alert the driver of a potential issue.

1. Difficulty engaging four-wheel drive

One of the first symptoms of a potential problem with the front axle engagement switch is difficulty engaging the vehicle’s four-wheel drive system. A faulty switch may require the knob or button to be pressed or jostled several times before the four-wheel drive system comes on, and even then, it may have difficulty staying engaged.

2. Four-wheel drive becomes stuck

Another symptom of a potential problem with the front axle engagement switch is a four-wheel drive system that becomes stuck. A bad switch may cause the four-wheel drive system to be stuck in the permanently engaged, or disengaged mode. This is an issue as a permanently switched on four-wheel drive system will cause accelerated wear on the components, while a permanently switched off will leave the vehicle without four-wheel drive.

3. Four-wheel drive mode does not activate

Another more serious symptom of a problem with the front axle engagement switch is a four-wheel drive system that is unable to activate. If the axle engagement switch fails it will leave the driver without a means to turn the four-wheel drive system on or off, resulting in an inoperable system. The switch will usually have to be replaced to restore proper functionality to the four-wheel drive system.

While front axle engagement switches are not found on all vehicles, they are very important to the vehicles they are found on - those with four-wheel drive capability. When the switch fails, it can cause all sorts of performance issues with the system. If you suspect that your front axle engagement switch may be having an issue, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic, to determine if your car is in need of a front axle engagement switch replacement.


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Paul

25 years of experience
261 reviews
Paul
25 years of experience
Suzuki XL-7 V6-2.7L - Car is not starting - Las Vegas, Nevada
Paul was friendly and professional. He got to the job on time, and had all of the tools needed to do a comprehensive diagnostic. He even had a lift on his truck. He had no problem explaining what he was doing while he worked. I did need service this time because my engine block is cracked, but to have someone come to the house and diagnose the problem for only $70 instead of getting towed somewhere was a great deal and very convenient.
Ford F-150 - Drive Belt Tensioner - Las Vegas, Nevada
got me back on the road in less than half an hour, really great customer service

Richard

35 years of experience
96 reviews
Richard
35 years of experience
Mercedes-Benz CLS550 V8-5.5L - Vehicle Drivetrain Inspection - New Port Richey, Florida
Came out on time took 40 min test drive found problem and ran scan to show the problem and I would recommend him highly knows his job well ! Thanks you Richard !

Eliud

23 years of experience
200 reviews
Eliud
23 years of experience
Ram 1500 V6-3.6L - Vehicle Drivetrain - Snellville, Georgia
Eliud was punctual and knowledgeable about my vehicle. Solved the issue within the half hour

Kevin

24 years of experience
532 reviews
Kevin
24 years of experience
Honda CR-V L4-2.4L - Vehicle Drivetrain Inspection - Lilburn, Georgia
I'm glad we got the 50 point inspection because the actual issue was different than what I thought.

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