5th Gen 4Runner Transfer Case (T-Case) Knob Threads Stripped or Loose?

If Your Transfer Case Knob is Stripped, Loose and Over-Rotating – We have the fix for you

We got an email the other day from a user with the following comment:

I purchased a new 2023 4Runner TRD Offroad trim in January 2024, and per the owner’s manual, I am supposed to drive in 4WD-High for 10 miles every month to keep the front gears lubricated. Upon doing so, the factory knob atop the manual transfer case shift lever suddenly rotated 1/4 turn clockwise, thereby over-rotating the 4WD High/Low diagram towards the driver-side door instead of the vertical position. That factory oem transfer case knob appears to be a design defect and it has a white plastic threaded insert (screws down onto the steel shift lever, not a smart combo of materials), which is allowing it to continue to rotate further clockwise than it is supposed to. It’s simply the factory knob on top of the manual transfer case shift lever which was initially installed in the proper/normal orientation continues to rotate clockwise as I put it into 4H from 2H. That threaded plastic insert inside the factory knob is obviously too soft and allows the additional rotation on the threaded metal lever. I spoke with my independent Toyota mechanic yesterday and he had not heard of that happening before, so it may be a one-off situation particular to this factory knob. Your one-piece aluminum solution with the magnetic J-disc diagram is the best option I found.

Factory T-Case Shifter Plastic Insert

To show you guys what’s going on inside of the knob, we cut it in half to get a better look inside.

The factory transfer case J-shift knob on the 4Runner features a soft plastic female threaded insert wrapped in a leather-like shell. We have heard people say the threads are stripped, but they are not. The reason why the shifter becomes loose over time is due to consistent pressure from the metal shifter rod threading over the chamfer causing the plastic to bow. As the metal rod reaches height and threads against the soft chamfer, it widens the chamfer and ultimately the threads just below it. The more you rotate the knob, the more the internal diameter (ID) of the plastic insert increases.

Over time, the plastic female threaded insert will begin to widen thus causing the entire knob to over-rotate. The more you tighten the knob, the more the ID of the threaded insert will increase. You can fix this by simply putting some PTFE tape around the metal shifter rod which will add to the outside diameter of the rod thus making up the difference. However, the plastic insert will continue to bow (red lines pictured in the image above) the more you put pressure on it. PTFE will temporarily fix the issue and also make it worse by putting even more pressure on the plastic insert, causing it to bow even more.

TrailMade T-Case Shifter

The TrailMade Transfer Case shifters are made of 6061 machined billet aluminum and OEM 8mm X 1.25 threads with a slight chamfer towards the top of the threads that stop the shifter from threading. On the top of the shifter, we feature our patent pending toolless removal cap system. The cap system features a beveled floor for easy cap removal with a machined-pressed black epoxy-coated neodymium magnet. Our TrailMade caps feature an epoxy-filled, custom-designed, steel cap that snaps into place on the neodymium magnet. After the cap is placed onto the magnet, you can freely rotate the cap in any direction. Perfect for any OCD-driven person who wants the perfect design placement. 

We offer full sets for the Transmission and T-Case as well.

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