Dodge Ram 4×4 Won’t Disengage – What to Do?

Have you been facing problems with your Dodge Ram transfer case shifting from high to low? You might get overwhelmed trying everything in neutral but couldn’t find any solution yet. Then this one’s for you. 

Even after you’ve switched the transfer case back to 2WD, the car can stay in 4WD mode. This may happen if the tires are worn excessively, the frontside axle hub connections don’t disengage, or perhaps the reverse spring doesn’t provide enough power to reset the lock-up fork to the 2-wheel state.

Your Dodge Ram’s four-wheel drive system may need maintenance from you at some point. This might be as little as the 4WD indication being on when you switch it off or as severe as your truck being permanently trapped in 4WD mode.

Thankfully, most of these problems are easily resolved by turning off the engine or putting it into reverse for a short while. But, if these issues continue, it may indicate a deeper problem.

Why Is My Dodge Ram 4×4 Won’t Disengage?

A four-wheel-drive Dodge Ram is an excellent option for traveling on dirt roads or in extreme weather. The Dodge Ram 4WD drive system involves different settings, such as 4×4 Low and 4×4 High, to provide you with varied benefits when facing diverse terrains or overcoming a variety of driving situations.

4×4 Low enables all four tires to be transmitted with engine power simultaneously while driving on hard off-road paths, swampy terrains, thick snowy roads, or flooded regions or waterways.

Another set- 4×4 High- allows all four wheels to receive engine power while running at high speed but in low traction, such as on sand, dirt roads, or slippery roadway. 

Since both settings put excessive tension on the drivetrain, transmission, and engine, you shouldn’t leave the truck in this state on a constant basis.

Malfunctioning the four-wheel drive system prevents disengaging from 4WD high or low, which should be avoided wherever possible.

While in the 4×4 low range, Ram’s wheels will move considerably slower than in the high range. So, you will need to reduce the speed and increase the torque. Some whining or clunking noise may come from the drivetrain. 

On the other hand, you will hear a grinding sound while spinning the wheels. Controlling your Dodge Ram will be hard if trapped in a 4×4 High. This occurs because the front and back wheels are locked simultaneously, preventing them from turning at different rates.

There might be a number of reasons why your vehicle is locked in 4wd low or high mode, from a faulty part to a user mistake. 

01. Failed Actuator

The failure to downshift from 4wd Drive High is indicative of a defective actuator in the Dodge Ram. This is due to the fact that the 4×4 system, with its multiple settings, is engaged and disengaged through the actuator. So, the actuator must be in good functioning order for the truck to disengage from the 4×4 system.

Many options exist for dealing with a potentially broken actuator in your vehicle. Changing out the actuator is the first thing to try. Since this would resolve the issue and restore regular operation of the four-wheel drive system, it is clearly the best option.

The second option is to outmaneuver the actuator, although this is not recommended for those with little experience altering trucks. To do so, one must remove the actuator’s cables and attach them straight to the 4WD system. This permits the 4×4 system to activate even if the actuator is absent.

Another possible option is to eliminate the actuator entirely. For this to happen, detach the wires attached to the actuator and remove them from the truck. As a result, the 4×4 system will be disabled completely. However, consider it a last option or a temporary fix if nothing else works out.

02. Problematic Transfer Case

Another culprit that prevents 4WD from being disengaged is the faulty transfer case. The transfer case control module is another potential culprit that might leave your vehicle mired in the 4×4 low gear.

For instance, if the computer in the transfer case is damaged or is not functioning regularly as it ought to, this might prohibit your vehicle from disengaging 4WD low. 

First things first, if you think anything is wrong with the transfer box, inspect the fluid volume. If the amount of fluid in the container is insufficient, more should be added to bring it up to the appropriate level.

If the transfer case is still giving you trouble even with an average fluid level, it’s probably due to a worn or broken internal part that requires it to be changed. 

Bearings, gears, and chains are some gearbox components most prone to breaking down. Complete transfer case replacement may be required in some circumstances.

While having trouble changing out of 4×4 high, the probable reason could be the broken or jammed shift rail, shift fork, or switch, which has to be replaced.

03. Worn-Out Differential

An essential part of the 4WD system, the differentials can cause 4×4 high mode stuckness if broken. You can identify a differential starting to fail with a grinding noise from the axle part or increased tire wear due to extra pressure.

Whenever you detect either of the above scenarios, you should have a professional technician check the differential immediately. 

04. Dodge Ram 1500 4WD Checking

The Dodge Ram 4×4 won’t disengage- the issue often occurs when there is a significant decrease in fuel efficiency or severe tire wear. Both of these issues might be avoided with routine 4WD inspections and maintenance, as well as regular 4×4 truck checks.

Before embarking on a journey that may include driving through mud or snow, the initial thing that anybody should do is ensure that their four-wheel drive system is operational.

Checking your Dodge Ram four-wheel drive system should be done as follows:

  • With Dodge Ram on any asphalt or concrete road. Performing this action in an open space is safer and more straightforward.
  • Activate the 4×4 system when the Dodge Ram is stopped and in neutral or park gear. As the four-wheel drive transfer case interacts, there should be a noticeable “clunk” audible or felt by the driver.
  • Drive the truck ahead in a straight line for approximately 10 feet so that the front hubs may engage and secure.
  • Proceed ahead while turning your wheels entirely to the left or right. It should feel as if the car is binding or resisting moving forward effortlessly. Your 4WD system is broken if you do not feel any resistance from the Dodge Ram when you turn.


Is it possible to disengage 4WD while driving?

While driving, you shouldn’t ever apply 4WD low or switch to 4WD high from the low range. Only transition from two-wheel drive to high-range four-wheel drive. Otherwise, you run the risk of damaging your Dodge Ram.

How long does it need to disengage 4X4?

When switching from four-wheel drive to two-wheel drive, the truck will sometimes disengage quite fast, but at other moments You will have to slow it down or almost stop before the four-wheel drive disengages.

For more recent vehicles, shifting into four-wheel drive may be accomplished in a split second. On the other hand, disengaging 4WD might take anywhere from 30- 60 seconds until it is totally engaged.

And, for earlier models, disengaging might take 1-3 minutes. It takes some time for the mechanical engagement mechanism to move the transmission out of 4 low gears.

Will 4X4 ruin Dodge Ram transmission?

The gearbox of a 4WD vehicle is subject to greater wear and tear than that of a 2WD vehicle because it must exert more effort to deliver power to each of the four wheels.

Nevertheless, it only sometimes means driving with a four-wheel drive will damage the gearbox. Changing the oil and checking it regularly may reduce the possibility of transmission failure. 

What if you leave the truck in a 4X4 drive?

A vehicle’s powertrain may have been harmed if it was left in 4WD for an extended period of time at high speed on paved surfaces.

Tires, ball joints up front, bushings up front, and either axle and the transfer case are the possible parts to be damaged in such a situation. 

Final Words

Your vehicle’s current condition, the conditions to which it is regularly exposed, your typical routes, the frequency with which you do maintenance, and other variables may all play a role in causing the 4WD “not disengaging” issue. Act quickly if your Dodge Ram 4×4 won’t disengage.

The more time you spend driving in this manner, the more irreparable harm you will cause to the transmission and other parts inside your vehicle.

If you have followed the instructions in this article and your vehicle still will not disengage from the 4WD system, you need to contact a qualified technician for assistance.