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How to Clear Service 4WD Light (10 simple steps)

Discussion Topic: How to Clear Service 4WD Light (10 simple steps)

The Service 4WD light serves as a warning sign indicating potential issues with your four-wheel drive system. Ignoring this warning can result in severe problems and vehicle damage. Fortunately, removing the Service 4WD light is a relatively straightforward process that can be accomplished in just a few simple steps. Here are ten steps to help you through the process efficiently and effectively.

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What the Service 4WD Light Means

The Service 4WD Light, whether illuminated or blinking, serves as an indicator of potential issues within a vehicle’s 4WD system, identified by the onboard computer system. Prompt action is often required to address incomplete gear shifts, engine damage, or other concerns.

There are various factors that can trigger the Service 4WD light, including an overheated or malfunctioning transfer case, damaged wiring, or other problems with the 4WD system.

Common triggers include:

  • Low or contaminated fluid levels.
  • Worn-out or damaged components.
  • Damaged differential axles.
  • Electrical or sensor complications.

It is worth noting that a flashing Service 4WD light may not always necessitate immediate attention, especially for vehicles equipped with On-Demand 4WD layouts like those found in Volkswagen, Jeep, and Honda. This indicates that the 4WD system is functioning as intended.

How to Clear Service 4WD Light

To clear the service 4WD light, you need to turn it off or reset it. Follow this step-by-step guide for a simple and effective solution.

Step 1. Check the Owner’s Manual.

The owner’s manual is a valuable resource that provides crucial information on caring for your four-wheeler. It offers guidance on troubleshooting common issues, including the Service 4WD Light.

To ensure proper operation of your 4WD system, read the section on warning light indicators carefully. If you suspect any problems, follow the provided instructions to address them effectively.

Step 2. Inspect the 4WD System.

Before trying to clear the Service 4WD light, it is crucial to conduct a thorough inspection of the 4WD system to ensure proper functionality. To do this, engage the 4WD and assess the system’s response to driver inputs. If the system fails to respond accordingly, it could indicate issues with the wiring, switches, transfer case, or other components of the 4WD system.

Step 3. Disconnect the Battery and TCCM.

To effectively clear the Service 4WD Light on your dash, there are a couple of easy methods you can try. One option is to disconnect the battery, which will reset the onboard computer system in your 4×4 and clear the warning light in most cases. Another alternative is to unplug the TCCM (Transfer Case Control Module). You can perform these fixes in any order, although it’s recommended to start with disconnecting the battery before dealing with the control module.

To disconnect the battery, follow these steps for a smooth process:

  • Turn off the engine.
  • Using a wrench, remove the negative cable from the battery terminal.
  • Allow the battery to remain disconnected for 15 minutes to an hour.
  • Reconnect the cable once the waiting time has elapsed.

By implementing this trick, you should be able to eliminate the root problem causing the flashing Service 4WD light, provided it’s a minor issue.

Step 4. Remove the Knee Bolster and Dash Bezel.

If step #3 (a.k.a. soft reset) fails to resolve the issue, it is advisable to examine the knee bolster and dash bezel.

The knee bolster, an interior trim component usually situated beneath the steering column, and the dash bezel, the enclosure around the gauges and instrument cluster on your 4×4’s dashboard, can be removed to facilitate access to electrical components or switches that may require servicing or replacement.

Please consult your owner’s manual for detailed instructions on how to remove these components correctly.

Step 5. Check the Wiring and Switch Assembly.

To diagnose a 4WD service light issue, follow these steps:

  • Start by removing the knee bolster and dash panel.
  • Pull on the switch assembly and inspect the relevant wiring.
  • This will help determine if the problem is related to a switch/wire fault or if it’s more complicated.

Even if you take great care of your vehicle and drive responsibly, the wiring of your 4WD system can still get damaged or corroded over time. This can be caused by factors such as the vehicle’s age, improper installation, or other electrical faults in your wheeler.

Step 6. Check the Transfer Case and TCCM.

If the battery and electrical connectors pass the inspection, one common culprit for transfer case issues is the TCCM (Transfer Case Control Module). This module is responsible for the operability of the transfer case in a 4×4, ensuring proper power distribution to the front and rear axles. Additionally, it monitors inputs from various sensors and switches related to the transfer case.

To troubleshoot, begin with a visual inspection of the transfer case. Check the fluids, search for leaks, and carefully examine the linkage between the transfer case and the 4WD control lever.

Next, locate the fuse box and verify if any fuses associated with the 4WD system and TCCM have blown and need replacement. If so, replace them with fuses of the same amperage.

Inspect the wiring and connectors leading to the TCCM for any signs of damage, corrosion, or loose connections. If any issues are found, repair or replace the compromised wiring or connectors accordingly.

*Fault Codes:

To resolve any fault codes detected in your vehicle’s TCCM or 4WD system, follow these steps:

1.Using a diagnostic scanner like the Autel MaxiSys MS906 Pro-TS Diagnostic Scan Tool (view on Amazon), read the stored fault codes.

2.Here are some examples of fault codes you may encounter:

  • P1867: Transmission Transfer Case Contact Plate General Circuit Failure
  • P1875: Transmission Automatic Hall Effect Sensor Power Circuit Short To Battery / 4WD Low Switch Circuit Electrical
  • P1860: TCC PWM Solenoid Circuit Electrical / Transmission Transfer Case Contact Plate ‘D’ Short Circuit To Battery
  • P1887: 4-Wheel Drive Control Solenoid Circuit Failure

3.Resolve the diagnostic trouble codes in the order they appeared on the scanner.

4.Test the control module by commanding it to engage and disengage the transfer case while monitoring the system response.

5.You may use the same diagnostic scanner or a TCCM-specific tool for monitoring the transfer case to ensure it is functioning correctly.

6.If troubleshooting fails, consider replacing the TCCM. However, it is recommended to involve a qualified mechanic for this task, especially if you don’t have sufficient mechanical expertise. The replacement process may also require programming the new module.

Step 7. Check the 4WD Control Module.

If the battery, wiring, and transfer case are in good condition, the next step is to check the 4WD Control Module. You might be wondering, “Why check it again if I’ve just finished this step? Isn’t the TCCM the 4WD Control Module?” Well, not exactly. While all TCCMs are 4WD control modules, not all 4WD control modules are TCCMs.

Depending on your vehicle type, this step might be necessary or not. Typically, most electronically-controlled 4x4s have a dedicated TCCM that controls the toggle of the transfer case.

However, in this setup, the TCCM could be integrated with the PCM or BCM, depending on the vehicle’s design.


To ensure the optimal performance and reliability of your 4WD system, follow these professional steps:

1.Perform a thorough visual inspection of the 4WD system and its related components. Look for any visible signs of damage, wear, or corrosion. Pay special attention to loose connections or wiring issues.

2.Utilize a diagnostic scanner to scan your 4×4 and check for error codes, similar to how you would do it for the TCCM.

3.Test the power supply of the control module by measuring voltage and resistance using a reliable multimeter. Consult your owner’s manual for the recommended values.

4.Evaluate the input and output signals of the 4WD control module using a diagnostic scan tool, multimeter, or oscilloscope. Ensure that the signals are flowing without interruption, while also verifying voltage, resistance, and inspecting the wiring and components.

5.Conduct a comprehensive functional test of the 4WD system. Engage and disengage the system while monitoring the control module inputs and outputs.

Here are some popular vehicle brands that commonly use separate TCCM and 4WD control modules, although always refer to your owner’s manual for accurate information:

  • Ford
  • Chevrolet/GMC
  • Dodge/Ram
  • Jeep
  • Toyota
  • Nissan

Step 8. Reinstall Interior Panels.

Please follow these steps to reinstall the knee bolster and dash panel:

  • Carefully secure and tighten all vacuum lines, fasteners, and electrical connectors.
  • Depending on your vehicle, ensure that these panels are placed back in their designated positions.
  • Proceed to test the transfer case and 4WD control modules.

Step 9. Perform a System Reset.

The blinking Service 4WD Light should have stopped by now. If it hasn’t, you may need to perform a system reset using an OBD-II or DRB-III diagnostic scan tool.

To address the trigger and severity of the issue, you may need to do a simple reset of the 4WD system and affected control modules, or opt for a complete onboard computer reset.

Step 10. Take Your 4×4 to a Professional.

For even the most mechanically-savvy vehicle owners, navigating steps #1-9 can often prove to be a challenging and time-consuming process. And in unfortunate instances where the outcome falls short, there’s no shame in seeking assistance from experts. You can hold your head up high, knowing that help is just a call away.

How To Check 4wd System By Yourself?

The 4wd system may present challenges, occasionally appearing normal while the front wheels fail to engage. That’s why it’s beneficial to possess the knowledge and ability to diagnose the system independently.

Step 1: Park The Car

To effectively diagnose issues with the 4WD system, it is recommended to park the vehicle in a suitable location. A parking lot can be chosen for this convenient and simple DIY test.

Step 2: Engage 4wd System

To effectively engage the 4WD system, start by keeping your vehicle neutral. As the system activates, you might hear a noise. Then, move your car approximately 10 to 12 feet forward from its initial position to ensure proper engagement of the front hub.

Step 3: Turn The Wheels And Check For Resistance

To check the 4WD system, perform the following steps:

  • Turn the wheels towards one side (either side will suffice) after driving forward.
  • Note any resistance while driving, which indicates that the system is functioning correctly.
  • If there is no resistance, it may signify an issue that needs attention.

Can I Still Drive with Service 4WD Light On?

It is strongly advised against driving with the Service 4WD Light illuminated, as it can result in significant issues. As previously mentioned, this warning light indicates a problem with the 4WD system, which can negatively impact a vehicle’s handling, stability, and safety.

Continuing to drive with the warning light on not only poses a risk of additional damage to the drivetrain but also jeopardizes the safety of you and your passengers.

FAQs About How to Clear Service 4WD Light

How much do I need to pay for servicing 4wd?

The cost of 4WD servicing varies depending on the car model and the servicing company. It includes both parts and labor costs. On average, the service cost ranges between $800 to $1300. It is recommended to have your car serviced every 30,000 miles to maintain optimal performance and longevity.

What is done when servicing a 4wd?

During a 4WD servicing, the mechanic will conduct three essential tasks to maintain optimal performance. This includes draining and replacing the transfer case fluid, front differential fluid, and rear differential fluid with fresh, clean fluid.

Why is my vehicle’s 4wd system not working?

The four-wheel-drive system can experience malfunctions due to issues with the electronic system. Common causes include a faulty 4wd switch, corroded wires, poor lubrication, leaks in the vacuum hoses, or a faulty transfer case module. Ensuring proper functioning of the 4wd system requires addressing these potential problems.

Can I drive with the 4wd light on?

When the 4WD light illuminates, it indicates a system malfunction. If you observe the 4WD alert light continuously flashing, it is advisable to park the vehicle in a safe location. However, if the light turns off after a period of time, it is safe to continue driving.




What Does the Service 4WD Dash Light Indicate?

This light is telling you that there is an issue with your 4WD system that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. It is not safe to continue driving with this issue, and you must take your vehicle to a qualified mechanic or dealership as soon as possible.

What Causes the Service 4WD Light to Illuminate?

There could be a few different reasons why this is happening, but one of the most common is an incomplete shift in gears, which can cause damage to your engine and result in the 4WD service light flashing continuously.

There are several other possible triggers for the Service 4WD light, including low or contaminated fluids, damaged components, and electrical problems.

How To Clear Your Service 4WD Light?

How to Clear Service 4WD Light (1)

1. Turning The Ignition on and Pressing the Gas Pedal

One method is to reset the light by turning the ignition on and pressing the gas pedal three times. However, if the issue lies with the 4WD switch on the dashboard, resoldering the connections on the board may be a quick fix to avoid purchasing a new switch.

This issue is often caused by microscopic cracks due to corrosion in the soldered connections on the board, which can be resolved with the use of a soldering iron.

2. Disconnect the Battery and TCCM

This method resets the onboard computer system in your 4×4 and clears the warning light, although it may not work in every case. If you want another option, you can also unplug the TCCM (Transfer Case Control Module), but it’s generally recommended to start with disconnecting the battery first.

To do so, ensure your engine is turned off and use a wrench to remove the negative cable from the battery terminal. Wait for 15 minutes to an hour before reconnecting the cable.

3. Check the Wiring and Switch Assembly

One option is to check the wiring and switch assembly. By giving the assembly a gentle tug and inspecting the wiring, you’ll be able to determine if the issue is a simple switch or wire fault or something more complex. Unfortunately, even the most careful drivers can experience wiring issues due to age, poor installation, or general electrical malfunctions.

4. Check the Transfer Case and TCCM

Take a few moments to visually inspect it and check the fluids while you’re at it. You’ll also want to scrutinize the linkage between the transfer case and the 4WD control lever to ensure everything is connected tightly.

After that, take a look at your fuse box. Are there any fuses related to the 4WD system and TCCM blown? If so, replace them with fuses of the same amperage. Finally, examine the wiring and connectors leading to the TCCM for any damage, corrosion, or loose connections.

5. Using an OBD-II or DRB-III diagnostic scan tool

If your vehicle is equipped with an OBD-II or DRB-III diagnostic scan tool, use it to read the trouble codes displayed on the dashboard. This will give you a better understanding of what’s wrong with your 4WD system and lead you in the right direction when troubleshooting the issue.

Once you’ve located and fixed any problems, clear out the stored codes from the onboard computer using your scan tool before turning off the engine.

How much does it cost to fix a Service 4WD light issue?

The cost of repairing a Service 4WD light issue can vary depending on the root cause of the problem. However, basic troubleshooting steps such as inspecting the wiring and fuses can typically be performed for a relatively affordable price range of $88 to $111.

Conclusion – How to Clear Service 4WD Light?

The Service 4WD Light is an indication that something is wrong with your 4WD system, and it should not be ignored. If the light persists after confirming that you’ve shifted into gear correctly, have a qualified mechanic or dealership take a look at your vehicle’s transmission.

There are various ways to reset the Service 4WD Light ranging from simple instructions like turning on the ignition and pressing the gas pedal three times, to more advanced steps such as using OBD-II or DRB-III diagnostic scan tools. However, if all else fails, disconnecting your car battery may be the answer you’re looking for.

Timothy Ballard

I’m Timothy Ballard, owner of a used car dealership in Springfield. I love just about everything automotive, but I have a special place in my heart for trucks. I’m an ASE Certified Master Technician, so I know my way around a car. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling with my family and hiking new trails.

4 thoughts on “How to Clear Service 4WD Light (10 simple steps)”

  1. How to Clear the Service 4WD Message:
    Step 1: Check the Owner’s Manual. …
    Step 2: Engage and Inspect the 4WD system. …
    Step 3: Visual Inspection. …
    Step 4: Disconnect the Battery and TCCM. …
    Step 5: Remove the Knee Bolster and Dash Bezel. …
    Step 6: Check the Transfer Case and Transfer Case Control Module.

  2. I’ve heard that if you turn the car on, but don’t start it up, and rapidly push in the gas pedal 5 times it will reset the lights. Or maybe it was the brake pedal. Try both.

  3. The service 4wd light has been intermittently coming on for a while since reaching approximately 70,000 kilometers. Usually, after turning the truck off and on again, the message disappears. Recently, I replaced the passenger side axle seal, necessitating the disassembly of the front left side of the differential. This involved removing the electric actuator, pulling the axle tube, replacing snap rings, and installing the new seal. After reassembling everything, the system seemed to be functioning correctly, but during today’s commute, the service 4wd light reappeared. Initially, I didn’t think much of it since this has been happening for some time. However, on my way back home from work, the light came on again. I attempted to resolve the issue by restarting the truck, but the light reappeared about ten minutes later. When I got home, I tested the 4wd in auto, 4H, and 4L modes, and it seemed to be working properly, engaging and disengaging as expected. Currently, the truck has accumulated 97,500 kilometers.

  4. The 4wd selector switch is neither illuminated, nor can I engage 4wd. I have inspected all known fuses and even replaced the switch, to no avail. Does anyone have any additional suggestions or troubleshooting steps that I can follow?


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