What is the transfer case recall?

Similar Questions:
What is wrong with the transfer case?
What kind of problem is it?
Will I get a new transfer case under the recall?

There is nothing wrong with the transfer case - there *is* something wrong with the brass plug in the centre of the transfer case yoke.  This plug can leak.  If enough lubricant is lost out of the transfer case, it will wear out and lock up.  Leakage may cause premature wear on the transfer case even if it does not seize up.  The Transfer Case Leak page is a must read on the subject, as are Paul Lyons' definitive posts on the transfer case recall.

There is a safety recall on this problem for all model year AWD DSMs from both Mitsu and Chryco, up to and including mid-1998 models.  The wording of the recall is such that:

  • the dealership will inspect the transfer case yoke to determine if there is a leak or not.
  • upon evidence of a leak, the dealer will replace the yoke and yoke seal at no charge.
  • if, in the dealer's opinion, the transfer case has undue wear on it, it will also be replaced at no charge.

Because of the wording of the recall, transfer cases are not automatically replaced.  All the crying and bitching in the world won't change that.  However, the transfer case and yoke are warrantied for the life of the car. This is because the recall is a safety recall.  Future leaks will be covered under the terms of the recall notice.  These terms are not within the discretion of either the dealer or the manufacturer - thus spake the NHTSA, and so mote it be.  Do not be afraid to stand up for your rights on this crucial point.

Many DSMers have been happy with the recall work.  However, there have been several reports of owners who have not received satisfactory service from the dealerships performing the recall.  The causes include:

  • no parts available.  At one time or other, all the involved parts were reported as backordered.
  • dealerships not recognizing the transfer case leak for what it is; it is sometimes misdiagnosed as engine oil or U-joint oil.
  • a DIY repair of the transfer case yoke, which fools the dealer into believing the yoke is not leaking.
  • dealerships not believing that the transfer case has experienced undue wear as a result of the leak.

Owners who do not get decent service should do the following:

  • phone the Mitsu/Chryco and NHTSA telephone numbers, listed on your recall notice, to report the difficulty.
  • Have them intervene on your behalf with the dealer.  Dealers and Mitsu/Chryco do not have the power to deny you in this matter.  Remember that the NHTSA does not have to guarantee you a replacement t-case!
  • contact Todd Hayashi regarding your bad experience - he is putting together a list of people who have had problems with the recall.  Include your name, your car (year/make/model) and the name and address of the dealership with whom you had problems.

The phone number for Mitsubishi is 1-800-222-0037, for Chrysler it is 1-800-521-2777 (or perhaps 1-800-992-1997).   Canadians phone Chrysler Canada at 1-800-465-2001. The NHTSA is at 1-888-327-4236. (Note: Troy Davis reports that one of these numbers may have changed to 1-800-853-1403.)

Mitsubishi owners who have already had the transfer case repaired, either by a dealer or a third party, apparantly have the option to get reimbursed from Mitsu.  Details on this are sketchy.

Club DSM members can thank Dallace Marable and Paul Lyons; they are the reason why this recall is in place. You can read all of Paul's recall posts to the Digest here; do so before asking questions. I'm sure that a thank-you note would be well appreciated.

The Last Word: Good things are not meant to last. Unfortunately, the recall is unlikely to be honored by any dealership at this point in time.

Despite the information above, the idea that the transfer case safety recall would be honored indefinitely was somewhat naive. These days it seems difficult to get any dealership to honor any TSB or recall, no matter how legitimate, and a semi-official repair like this one is way, way down the list. Even the NHTSA has been saying that the recall is only good once, and if the problem reappears it is up to the owner to fix it.

Some people were lucky, and managed to get their cases repaired or replaed multiple times - presumably on the dealerships in-house service warranty, which sometimes holds for one year. Other people had a struggle getting it replaced or even repaired once.

An independent mechanic, given the proper information, should be able to repair and/or replace your transfer case. Fortunately, there have been very few reported incidents of transfer case lock-up. Unfortunately, those few I've heard about have sometimes involved injury or death.


More to the story.....

I wrote all of the stuff in the original post more than 2 decades ago. Here is what I've learned over the years. NHTSA recalls are not for the life of the car. They are for 10 years. Sorry folks but this one is long gone. I had the unique experience of dealing with this subject again when I found a very pristine low mile 2gb Talon that needed recall work but they would not honor it. As of that time period(2011) the recall parts kit were still available and inexpensive. Sadly if you trash a transfer case as a result of this issue you are out of luck. A little back story about what I found from the original conversations. There were supposedly two machines manufacturinig the yoke for the driveshaft. It is a broach process and then a plug in the end to seal the fluid. Well apparently one of them had issue so many cars had a problem but there was no way to know which ones. As a result Mitsubishi did not want to just replace all of them so instead the original recall was to get an inspection. If there were signs of leakage you got a new yoke kit and if the transfercase made noise you got one of thsoe too. The problem is the defective parts were in the newer cars also. Some of them didn't have enough miles to exhibit a problem (my 97 included) so many cars got the "recall" but didn't actually get anything done. Informed owners sometimes got the service performed but from a legal standpoint I don't think they had to if they have record of service at some earlier date. The links above are probably dead but it likely doesn't matter as the information is old anyway.  If anybody wants to banter about this or ask me further questions my email is pauleyman@hotmail.com. I'm also on Dsmtuners as pauleyman.

Paul Lyons


QA #173

Last Updated:
2019-02-07 07:12

Cam Dorland | 95 Eagle Talon

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