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Discussion Starter #1
This morning I had a strange issue where I was able to move the AT shifter but the gears would not engage. A week back I had a different issue where for a few seconds the shifter seemed to get stuck for a second. I use 4L and 4H pretty often as we live a mile off the main road on gravel with lots of steep hills in the mountains so the tranny does get worked pretty hard I guess. Here is what happened this morning.

It is cold... about 30 degrees out. Started the truck. Shifted into neutral and went into 4L for the descent down my very steep driveway. Put it in 1 for the way down. The first bit of my driveway is very steep and this is what I've found works best. Once I got down the steepest part I stopped, put the car in N, switched to 4H and proceeded down the driveway to our first gate in 1. At the first gate after stopping the truck would not go into P... well, it would but there was a nasty clicking sound and it obviously wasn't enaging. Tried a few other gears... R, D, 3, 2, 1, would not engage and the gas behaved as if the truck was in neutral. Stopped, opened the gate with the truck in N and the parking brake up. Turned off the truck. Put it in park. Started up again. Still wouldn't engage in any gear. Put the car in N and coasted all the way to the first gate (it is downhill all the way). Opened the first gate. Coasted through. Stopped. Tried to change gears again. No luck. Turned the car off and put it in park for a minute. Started back up and everything was back to normal.

When all the weirdness was going on the instrument panel that usually shows the 4 tires and 4h, 4l, etc was completely blank.

Truck has 4k miles on it.. is pretty much brand new. I'm going to call the dealer and have them check it out. Searched and couldn't really find anything on these forums about this particular issue. Has anyone experienced anything similar and any recommendations on what I should do differently?
 

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Why would you need to use four wheel drive to go downhill? Why not just use a lower gear if you don't want to use the brakes all the way down. Only use four wheel drive if you are on a surface with loss of traction ice, snow, mud etc or you'll put an unnecessary load on the drive train.
Look at your owners manual and make sure you're putting it in four wheel drive according to how they want it done.

Clint
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Why would you need to use four wheel drive to go downhill? Why not just use a lower gear if you don't want to use the brakes all the way down. Only use four wheel drive if you are on a surface with loss of traction ice, snow, mud etc or you'll put an unnecessary load on the drive train.
Look at your owners manual and make sure you're putting it in four wheel drive according to how they want it done.

Clint
The mile long driveway is gravel and it can be slippery. The part where I put it in 4L is gravel with a 30+ degree slope in places. To get up the driveway the truck must be in 4WD as 2wd will not make it up the hill. We've had a few attempts from people who thought they knew better and none of them could get up in a truck in 2wd. All that happened was them tearing up my driveway and me getting out the rake to fix it. :). When it is dry I'll put is in 2wd on the way up until I get to the really steep part but if it is damp at all the tires lose traction. The grade is more than 10 degrees all the way up.

I put it in 4L-1 on the way down as that is the only gear which will successfully keep the speed below 5mph on the way down. 2WD-1 will require a lot of braking to keep the speed reasonable for that very steep part of the driveway. I'm open to using braking and 2WD-1 and will give that a shot but I think in this case that I'm operating the truck correctly. With my forester I put it in 1 and use the brakes because it doesnt' have low gears.

Did you have any thoughts on the weird transmission behavior? I am going to take it in to the dealer when I get home as I need an oil change anyway.

Edit:
Here is a vid of the first part of the driveway
 

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Are you waiting for the "click" before moving the gear selector back out of neutral? You need to give the transfer case time to shift back in to 4Hi. Wait for the audible thunk and the feel as well as the indicator on the dash to go back to 4hi.

There is a note about it on your sun visor. Something about the transfer case not in gear or something. I've had it happen a time or two when I didn't wait for the thunk.
 

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Thanks for posting that video, as the others said we have hill decent but never tried it so not sure how it works.

Clint
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I am waiting for the click when going in and out of 4H and 4L and am waiting for the indicator to stop flashing but maybe I didn't wait long enough yesterday.. I thought i did but I was in a rush so maybe not.

I have tried hill descent. It works fine but at a slower descent speed which is probably safer anyway.

I went down yesterday in 2WD with brakes only. It was ok since the road was dry but the truck did slide just a little even with low speeds (below 5mph). HDC works better because it keeps your speed very low. I'll definitely be using HDC and 4L when descending on snow.

Thanks all for sharing. So far I have been very pleased with the truck's capabilities. It handles our bumpy roads more comfortably than the forester and is a real pleasure to drive. I've managed to haul some logs for firewood up that driveway in 4L a couple of times and the truck had no issues going up.
 

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Before you spend part of your day at the dealer, I would make absolute sure you are waiting for the transfer case to click. Also, make 100% sure you are at a complete stop. It really sounds like every time I have been impatient and tried to rush things.

Also, one thing to consider is if you are using engine braking to slow down the steep driveway there is a chance that the transfer case is getting a little warm. Not to the point of damage, but, when things are worked hard, it could cause it to need an extra second or two to switch between hi and lo.... Just a thought.
 

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Hill descent also works in 2wd and reverse. As for the transfer case issue, it might be an issue with the transfer case motor. Chevy's had (and might still) a major problem with it. The little motor that engages and disengages the transfers case gears generally uses a reluctor ring to know where it is, these little rings can wear, and then the computer doesn't know where it is. Cheap part to replace on the chevy's. But being a under warranty should not be a problem. I did mine a couple of times on the Avalanche, and if I have the same issue in the Fronty I will drop in an atlas, or some other manual transfer case. I don't really see how a fiddly knob and computers and a motor is easier than or less complicated than a big stick.
 

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Understand the video skews the real picture but my humble opinion is that 4WL is big time overkill on that hill, it's not worth the extra wear and tear on the drivetrain. You can get the same result on a grade like that with other combinations HDC 4WH 2nd gear or take your choice. Maybe, maybe, going up if it gets real slippery, and yes the cold temp with delay the solenoids..
 
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