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88 Chevy K1500 front diff takes a long time to lock in, whats up with that???

Discussion in 'Chevy Trucks' started by Robhollar, Jan 30, 2004.

  1. Robhollar

    Robhollar Senior Member
    Messages: 766

    I have a 88 K1500, when i shift into 4 hi or low it takes some time for it to lock into 4wd, so whats up with this?? I heard a rumor that there is a fix for this, whats is it and how hard is it??
  2. Plow Meister

    Plow Meister PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,174

    I think that diff takes trans fluit. Check to see what kind is actually in there. Some diffs take 80-90 weight. Someone may have goofed and put the wrong stuff in there. In this weather 80-90 weight is incredsibly heavy and thick. It takes a while to warm up and thin up. This may be causing the gears to take longer to mesh. Kind of a shot in the dark, though.
  3. badranman

    badranman Senior Member
    Messages: 265

    Your front diff acuator is probably shot. When you put your truck in 4wd your acuator heats up a gas which pushes against a rod which locks in your 4wd. These units are crap and are really slow when cold. I replaced my '95 with a factory updated one and now it engages in about 1-2 seconds, alot better!
  4. Bolts Indus.

    Bolts Indus. PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,176

    Try this.

    Put tranny in neutral;
    Put transfer case in 4wd
    Put tranny in reverse
    Then through neutral to drive
    Step on gas.
    That sounds like a long time but it's not.
    The system requires the neutral no load position to mesh.
    No need for this when moving as front axle is rotating at same speed as rear. I might add that 4wd should be used before you need it ,not after you need it. Easier on truck and you are not stuck. There is no reason while plowing not to be in 4wd all the time. It is easier on the vehicle, easier to push snow and at low speed it won't burn more gas. Even if it did, tranny and transfer repairs cost a lot more than gas.
  5. Robhollar

    Robhollar Senior Member
    Messages: 766

    What happens is as i pull up to a job i stop and put my truck into neutral, pull it into 4wd and then like you said rev then back to drive. I may have to do this 5 times before it will engage. Its seems to be allot to me.

    If it is the actuator whats involved on replacing it? And an idea on the cost?...Rob
  6. Bolts Indus.

    Bolts Indus. PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,176

    You missed the put in reverse step. Don't rev engine. Then Drive, and drive forward. If it doesn't lock in then, your actuator is bad. Not a huge expense item. Try it this way. Just before you arrive at the job you need 4wd for, put it in 4wd then. That gives it time to engage. Just get to know your truck's finicky things and work with it. Or make the repair or up-grade.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2004
  7. badranman

    badranman Senior Member
    Messages: 265

    Replacing it isn't hard if you have any mechanical blood in you, it just unscrews. The new one does have an extra wire you hook up to the wire coming from the transfer case but that's no biggie either. The cost is roughly $150 us. :drinkup:
  8. Robhollar

    Robhollar Senior Member
    Messages: 766

    Ya Ive got a shade tree bone or two in my body. I just wasnt sure if i was getting myself into major project.

    Well heres what i figured out today. It seems if i sit in drive or reverse and engage the 4wd it takes 15 to 20 seconds to engage. I did this several times today. Time after time it acted the same way. Im starting to belive badranman that my actuator is the offending part. I think this will be a warmer weather project...Rob
  9. Bolts Indus.

    Bolts Indus. PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,176

    15 to 20 seconds to engage? That is normal. I'm beginning to believe you are in neutral when you are engaging and not seeing the light come on. Is this correct? That does not mean it is not engaged. If so, the light will not come on untill you put it in drive or reverse and start to move.
  10. Crash935

    Crash935 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,377

    Rob, I'm able to shift my 88 into 4wd without stopping and usually put it into 4 wd as i'm slowing down to pull into an account. As long as i'm not "mashing" the gas it usually drop right into 4wd.
  11. Robhollar

    Robhollar Senior Member
    Messages: 766

    I can drop in into fwd while still in gear BUT i have to compleatly stopped in order to to pull out of 2wd. While in drive and without moving anything I just have to sit there for the fwd light to come on. Yes you rite im waiting for the light to light up till i assume that its in 4wd. I have a buddy who has a newer Chevy truck that he doesnt have to stop to shift and his is almost instant.
  12. 68bullit

    68bullit Member
    Messages: 36

    the theraml linear switch appears to be the culprit here.you shoud also notice if you splash in water it disengages as well because the fluid in the switch cools down and has to rehet again.

    there is a kit out that replaces the switch with a cable operated fully engaged rod that you put in manually.this is a sure fire way to GUARENTEE you are in 4wd

    warn makes a kit and maybe a few others and the price is comparable with buying a new gm switch but will never fail again